Our strategy

As a system of Catholic schools, we are clear on our mission and mandate. We exist to create vibrant Catholic school communities where every student finds meaning and purpose in their life through experiencing continual growth in faith and improvement in learning.

When we set out to develop Lighting The Way, our system had a strong foundation thanks to the dedication and talent of our teachers, school leaders, and support staff, but we were not seeing the levels of improvement in student outcomes we knew were possible. School improvement goals were predominantly determined by system-level priorities, with school leaders and teachers often having limited autonomy regarding what needed improving in their school, or how that improvement should be achieved and measured.

The result was that the knowledge, expertise, and local insight within our school communities were not being effectively used to understand the barriers to improvement and design effective solutions at the local level. We needed a more school-centric approach, united by a commitment to common aspirations for our students, to ensure schools could focus their efforts on creating meaningful and sustainable progress, while supporting every student to grow in faith and learning.

Maximising growth and achievement through "systemness" and connected autonomy

In response, and in light of contemporary evidence and literature, we determined that the best way to realise our mission was for schools to lead the improvement process, with enough time, resources, and support to achieve real and lasting results. In other words, to foster “systemness” through connected autonomy.

In our five strategic focus areas—informed by engagement with thousands of students, teachers, families, and clergy—we have articulated what we want to improve. Connected autonomy provides the how. Achieving the student-centred outcomes in our focus areas depends on recognising and respecting the autonomy of every school, while finding common purpose in our mission and strategy, and promoting connectivity and collaboration across schools and the CEO. 

In practice, connected autonomy looks like:

  • School leaders, teachers, and support staff engaging in consistent school-led inquiry, planning, and improvement within the context of our collaboratively developed Continuous Catholic School Improvement Framework
  • CEO service delivery responding to school needs and improvement agendas, while prioritising and protecting the core work of teaching.
  • System-wide visibility and coherence of intent, planning, and delivery, through a commitment to our shared mission and strategic focus areas, and the use of a common digital platform to record and manage school and CEO improvement initiatives.

Embedding connected autonomy

A set of coherent actions, already underway, will embed connected autonomy as our way of operating:

Move from a centralised model of identifying issues and designing solutions, to distributed leadership and accountability at the school level.

  • Introduce a new framework for school improvement, underpinned by the ACER School Improvement Tool and our Catholic identity, and centred on regular cycles of school-led inquiry that result in targeted strategic priorities and improvement goals.
  • Build capability in school leaders, teachers, and staff at all levels to focus on student growth and achievement, diagnose and solve problems locally, and foster a culture that prioritises system connectivity and collective improvement.
  • Maintain accountability and relevance of strategic and annual planning across the system through regular evaluation of school improvement goals and CEO initiatives against Lighting The Way focus areas and health metric benchmarks.

Refocus our structures and service delivery to promote contextual literacy and leadership with, rather than over, others.

  • Reorganise schools into three networks supported by three new roles responsible for empowering and supporting principals to focus on instructional leadership and school improvement, while maintaining and promoting deep understanding of each school’s context.
  • Refocus CEO services to increase alignment and collaboration between key functions, including teams responsible for supporting student faith, learning, and wellbeing, and our corporate support services.
  • Establish a model of differentiated and equitable professional learning and support from “knowledgeable others” able to respond flexibly to evolving school needs and data-informed insights.

Optimise system collaboration and economies of scale, while maximising school-level flexibility wherever possible.

  • Launch ClickUp as our common digital platform for recording and managing school improvement plans and CEO initiatives, to increase visibility and enable greater collaboration and relevant support.
  • Establish communities of practice to support greater connectivity, collaboration, and knowledge sharing between schools.
  • Continue to standardise system policies, procedures, and tools to achieve economies of scale, while maintaining maximum flexibility for local application wherever possible.

These actions are complementary and mutually reinforce one another. When implemented together, they will enable and embed connected autonomy across our system of schools.

This is how we will ensure each of our Catholic schools can focus on improving faith, learning, and wellbeing outcomes for students in their local context, while taking advantage of system benefits that optimise collective improvement, sustainability, and growth.

This is how we will drive meaningful, sustained improvement in our five focus areas and bring our mission to life.

This is how we will light the way.​