RAY COLLINS: A Vision for Catholic Schools

A number of years ago I was enrolling my eldest daughter into a school and, with all the enrolment material with which we were provided, I was struck by the words of the school’s Vision Statement.

What the statement said about the aspirations the College had for the girls (it was a girls only school) caused me to say to the Principal that if the school achieved that vision for my daughter I would be a very happy parent.

Four years later, on the day of my daughter’s graduation, I was happily able to say to the same Principal that in my mind the school had certainly achieved for my daughter the aspirations stated in its vision statement.

I recounted this story at the launch of the new Vision for Catholic Schools that was launched last Wednesday by Bishop Bill.

To me that is what a vision statement is, it is an expression of aspirations, of what we want to see in a school or in our case a system of Catholic schools.

In drafting a Vision  for Catholic Schools the Catholic Schools Office is stating very clearly, in consultation with the Catholic Schools Council, our school communities and finally with Bishop Bill, that this is what we want our schools to be. In a way this is our dream for our schools but it is a dream that we expect to be fulfilled.

At the centre of this vision statement are the words “At the heart of everything is Jesus Christ”. This forms the core of our aspirations for all of our schools, that they be communities in which Jesus is the focus of all we do.

The statement goes on to emphasise that with Jesus as our core we commit to being faith communities, places of excellence in learning and focused on a rigorous, creative and critical pursuit of truth.

In carefully drafting and examining the words of this statement we are raising an expectation for our schools with regard to what our core business is.

Each of the words has been deliberately chosen to signify the nature and purpose of our schools and determines our commitment to our students and their parents.

It will also be the measure by which we are held to account.

I would like to thank the members of the Vision Statement Working Party for the dedication, persistence and hard work that has gone into the preparation of this new vision for our schools. In particular I would like to thank Ms Kathryn Fox who chaired the committee and also Sr Lauretta Baker from the Catholic Schools Council who is renowned for her guidance to vision statement writers. A special thank you goes to Mr John Burland who worked with the Working Party to compose a song based on the words of the Vision Statement. It was performed at the launch by some of our ASPIRE singers.

In addition, I extend my sincere thanks to Br Robert Sutton, Principal of St Francis Xavier’s College, and the staff and students for the way in which we were welcomed, entertained and nourished. The hospitality students certainly demonstrated their culinary skills by preparing a variety of delicious foods for our consumption.

Thank you to all involved.

Ray Collins Image
Ray Collins

Ray Collins is the Director of Schools within the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. He is an authority on education issues.

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