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NESLI is supporting the next generation of Catholic school leaders

NESLI is helping to quell Catholic schools’ emerging leadership crisis

An education leadership initiative targeting Australia’s Catholic schools is taking aim at the sector’s rapidly declining school principal numbers. Developed by experts at the National Excellence in School Leadership Institute (NESLI), the Catholic Schools Middle Leadership Program addresses the fact that Australian Catholic schools will soon be in crisis if a new generation of school leaders are not adequately developed.

As the sector’s aging cohort of principals moves towards retirement, fewer Catholic school teachers are stepping forward to take up the challenge of school leadership. According to Professor Mike Gaffney, Academic Director of NESLI, it’s an issue that directly affects the future viability of Australia’s entire Catholic education sector.

“Australia needs a new generation of Catholic school leaders. These leaders will need to reconcile important issues around what quality education in the Catholic tradition really means. Our current era is politically and economically fraught in terms of funding and enrolments, and the next generation of Catholic school leaders are charged with a very significant mission. It’s vital that we give them the appropriate training and support they need,” Professor Gaffney said.

Initially piloted in South Australia, the Catholic Schools Middle Leadership Program is a game-changer for how Catholic schools around the world think about their succession planning. Delivered over a ten-month period, it offers a blended program delivery that focuses on the critical dimensions of effective, collaborative leadership within the Catholic schooling context.

“The work we’re doing here is truly ground breaking. It’s a robust, state-of-the-art approach to Catholic leadership succession which goes far beyond what traditional online or face-to-face programs can do. We integrate real time conversations and video with authoritative research and literature, and most importantly, we bring future school leaders together in an environment that supports them in their leadership aspirations,” said Professor Gaffney.

Susan Young, Assistant Director of Leadership Development at Catholic Education South Australia (CESA), has praised the Catholic Schools Middle Leadership Program for shedding much-needed light on leadership distribution and succession planning within the Catholic education sector. “The Catholic Schools Middle Leadership Program helps us to target future professional development to support middle leaders in their current roles and aspirational leadership pathways. It has also enabled us to construct a leadership program that finds deep connection with our Catholic context, our leaders and our unique system of schools,” she said.

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