Over 400 school leaders gathered in the Hunter Valley this week to Encounter New Horizons

Catholic school principals from across NSW came together Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (24 – 26 May) at the Crowne Plaza in Pokolbin for the 2017 Association of Catholic School Principals (ACSP) State Conference.

The bi-annual conference theme, Encounter New Horizons, saw principals, directors and education officers take on the challenge of extending the focus of the conference from new horizons in 'how' they educate, to new ways of thinking about 'why' they educate, to develop a deeper sense of purpose with the concurrent need to develop better practice to support this.

ACSP Primary representative and Chair of the Primary Principals' Association in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, Mr Peter Treloar, who is also Principal of St Joseph's Primary School, Merewether, says that through the event, principals explored Pope Francis' challenge from Laudato Si, Care for Our Common Home.

"In paragraph 215, Pope Francis says, "Our efforts at education will be inadequate and ineffectual unless we strive to promote a new way of thinking about human beings, life, society and our relationship with nature," which is key to progression in our schools," Mr Treloar said.

One of the conference's Keynote and Masterclass presenters was Finnish educational leadership and teacher education expert and former director general of CIMO at the Finland's Ministry of Education and Culture, Dr Pasi Sahlberg.

"Over the years, thousands of school leaders from around the world have travelled to Finland to learn from the successful Finnish education system, so we are very excited to have Dr Sahlberg with us to help our school leaders to craft usable new ideas for their own school," Mr Treloar said.

Joining Dr Sahlberg at the conference were Keynote speakers and Masterclass presenters Cardinal John Dew, Bishop Edwards, Dr PakTee Ng, Professor Stephen Dinham, Professor Chris Sarra and Professor Louise Stoll. These experts were all selected to encourage varying learning experiences to ignite thought and discussion.

The conference is one of the most significant educational gatherings of the year with 86% of principals from the Diocese of Armidale, 79% from the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and 48% of principals from the Archdiocese of Sydney to attend. Representatives from the New Zealand Catholic Primary Principals' Association were also in attendance.

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Alyssa Faith Image
Alyssa Faith

Alyssa Faith was the Communications Manager for the Catholic Schools Office, Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle from 2016 - 2017 and a regular contributor to Aurora and mnnews.today.