Tuesday, 14 February 2023

Shining a light on MACS

As I grow and learn in my new leadership role, I aim to shine a light on the truly remarkable and inspiring work carried out by passionate and dedicated MACS staff who, together with the schools, leaders and communities that they serve, ensure all learners "reach their potential and be the best version of themselves" (MACS manifesto). 

The light of the new MACS logo and the accompanying manifesto "lighting their path" (see below) could not be more apt. 

MACS logo - I acknowledge the source of the image located at this link

MACS Staff Seminar October 2022

The dining room at the Catholic Leadership Centre was full to capacity with almost 600 staff from all Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS) offices (Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western offices and James Gould House headquarters).

This was the first in - person gathering of its kind post Covid; a golden opportunity for me to be immersed into a system undergoing deep change since the transformation from CEM (Catholic Education Melbourne) to MACS 24 months ago.

The purpose of the staff seminar was to provide a platform for staff voice in relation to the recently launched MACS Strategy 2030.

MACS 2030 Forming Lives to Enrich the World 

Purpose “why we exist” Forming lives of faith, hope and love in the light of Jesus Christ

Vision - “the impact we want to have” Every student is inspired and enabled to flourish and enrich the world.

You can access full details about the strategy at this link 

The energy in the room was tangible as colleagues from across Melbourne reconnected in person. Faces glowed with beaming smiles no longer hidden behind Covid masks.

Being invited along with 100 other newcomers (staff who joined MACS in the past few months) to stand up and be warmly welcomed to our first staff seminar was indeed a privilege. This was my first experience of interacting with all staff who contribute to Catholic education at the system level. Together MACS staff serve nearly 300 schools and 100,000 students from across Melbourne.

Three months into my new role as Regional Leadership Consultant (RLC) has meant a shift in mind set and culture for me. I have moved from leading one school to being responsible for supporting, coaching and mentoring principals & leadership teams across 15 schools. Together with my 4 RLC colleagues, our Regional General Manager and all 40 of the staff based in the Southern Regional Office (SRO), we support almost 80 schools.

Although I can draw from a toolkit of 25 years of leadership experience across 4 countries, I am still a novice in this exciting, new role. I am passionate about learning and keen to understand how I can adapt, develop and nuance my skills to best suit the diverse contexts of the schools and the MACS system. I am constantly asking questions as I continue to develop and grow in my role. I am fortunate to work alongside 40 talented staff where no questions is too difficult to answer.

During the seminar, we formed mini groups of staff from a wide variety of roles and were given the chance to discuss the questions below. Here is a summary of the responses from our mini group. All groups were invited to share with the wider group and were very appreciative of the chance to provide feedback and staff voice.

What do you find most exciting about MACS 2030 ? The strategy is fresh and broad enough for our diverse personnel to relate to. The timing of the strategy works well with the restructuring and change to the MACS governance model. The strategy connects and aligns the work for all of our groups through a shared vision and it encompasses all elements though such themes as flourishing learners, building capabilities, building relationships and a sense of community. The strong faith focus underpins our mission. Being given time today to focus on the strategy and understand it further, helps all of us to connect with it.

What changes do you want to see by 2030? We would particularly like to see equity for all learners so that they can all flourish. We want to retain high quality learning environments for every student and close the gap between privileged and underprivileged students. We want all students to become critical thinkers to prepare them to be active participants in the world beyond the classrooms.

How do we need to change by 2030 ? We want to see greater clarity for schools as a whole entity about the role that all MACS staff play for the greater good of our system. We want to ensure that we will work collaboratively across our offices and share consistent messages to all schools.

To help us achieve our Purpose and Vision, what suggestions or next steps do you have ?  The value in having more opportunities to collaborate like today where all MACS staff across regions & central offices can learn together and align their work would be beneficial. In summary, we conclude with the C's: role Clarity, Communication, Collaboration, Connection, Consistency and Courage for all of us going forward.

Following on from this activity, we were invited to celebrate mass together with Father Mark Reynolds. Fr Mark is the Episcopal Vicar to Catholic Schools. You can learn more about Father Mark's role at this link. Fr Mark reminded each of us to be God's flavour in the world. 

In November, after the annual thanksgiving mass for principals led by Archbishop Peter A Comensoli at St Patrick's Cathedral, Fr Mark presented the recognition awards to to new and retiring principals. 

At the Principal Celebration evening, Fr Mark Reynolds 
presented me with my certificate of recognition for principalship

I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the MACS system and be able to shine a light on the positive impact that passionate and dedicated MACS staff, together with the schools, leaders and communities that they serve, ensure all learners "reach their potential and be the best version of themselves"(MACS manifesto) so that we can all flourish.

The manifesto

Light is a powerful thing.

It can lift you up. Guide the way. Help the world flourish.

That’s why we shine a light on each and every one of our students.

One that fills them with knowledge, skills, care, respect and experience.

Our guiding principles helping them reach their potential and be the best versions of themselves.

Because when we do, it leads to brighter futures.

Those in which our students can become a guiding light themselves.

Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools. Lighting their path.

MACS system leaders and staff for their contribution to the staff seminar
MACS Manifesto and Strategy 2030 sites for the links
SRO staff for their leadership, guidance and constant support for the leaders and schools across the region and for myself as a new team member

Friday, 24 June 2022

Schools That Deliver 4 years on; a day to share and celebrate progress & successes

In a 'school that delivers', the principal carries the vision, sensitivities, and skill sets of cultural change and creates the conditions in which teachers become the leaders of instruction and students become the leaders of the future (Edwards, J. and Martin, B., 2016, p.xiii). You can read more about a school that delivers where students become the leaders of the future in a blogpost from 2017 at this link.

On a Monday in May, our staff came together for a professional learning day with the Schools That Deliver facilitators Mary and Lab Wilson. The day was about learning, sharing and celebrating our achievements. 

As I prepare to finish at St Patrick's and take up a new role supporting and growing the leadership capability at several schools, I feel a genuine sense of pride in the self motivated actions of the staff at St Patrick's. The staff are all leaders in their own right and with the support of their colleagues in the three faith teams: Faith and Community; Faith and Curriculum; Faith, Wellbeing and Diversity; teachers are engaging and motivating their students to become the leaders of the future.

Here is a reflection from the facilitators...

The team at St Patricks have been on a journey since 2018 to realise a shared vision that was created with listening respectfully to every voice. Through the last four years the team has stayed focused and developed aligned actions to deliver on their vision ensuring they stop regularly, review actions and their impact. From this point new actions have been developed and the journey continued. This has required strong focused leadership and time to deepen community trust and involvement. Alongside these actions has been the building of leadership capacity and capability school wide focusing on how to use their faith in all they do. This was achieved by all staff belonging to one of three teams ( Faith & Community, Faith & Curriculum, Faith, Diversity & Wellbeing). Last week the three teams presented their achievements to date, the data that has informed these actions and suggested next steps. We were blown away with the passion, depth and enthusiasm. The excitement, ownership and pride of what they have achieved was clearly evident. This showed how much each of them was invested in the process. Their ability to articulate what they had done, why they are doing it and the impact it had was outstanding. There was clear evidence of growth in them all.

 Mary & Lab Wilson May 2022

Here is some feedback from the staff...
  • As I was a staff member when the Schools That Deliver initiative was started at St Patrick’s it was so great to see all our progress over the years and celebrate our achievements. Notably how the core values which we came up with as a staff are so ingrained with all members of our school community. It was a really valuable day that allowed us to look back at how much we have done to move our school forward in a positive manner. The development of our school vision was such a wonderful process and I feel like all our voices were heard.“The knowledge is in the room” is a quote that I have taken away from the professional learning days as we all have so much to offer and a certain expertise that we can delve into it.“Less is more” We need to take our time and do things well. 
  • The day gave us an opportunity to share all of our hard work, and celebrate all the teams’ efforts. It's interesting to see where we started from and all the positive things we have achieved. I like the development of our vision and how we using our vision as our guide. Our vision is a working document that can be changed to suit our school.
  • Presenting to the staff helped me reflect on what we have achieved. Sometimes I feel like we haven’t achieved much as a team because it’s not always visible, but the process of collating everything and sharing it with the staff, as well as the feedback received, helped to reinforce what we have done this semester and where we are headed.
  • It was good to be able to present our team’s work. It was a great opportunity to reflect on all the hard work put in by every team... It was positive to come together as a staff and own the shared vision.
Below is a synopsis of the work of our 3 teams and a summary of their presentations to colleagues. 
The Faith and Community Team share their presentation

The Faith and Curriculum Team share their presentation

The Faith, Wellbeing and Diversity Team share their presentation

Here is a reflection from an impartial observer who visited St Patrick's on the day.

Dear Jenny,

It was an honour and privilege to be an observer at St. Patrick's, as you and the staff participated in a day of Professional Learning on Schools That Deliver - an internationally renowned initiative that St.Patrick's commenced four years ago.

From the moment I arrived I felt very welcome at St. Patrick's. Sincere thanks to all staff of St. Patrick's.

Listening and seeing the presentations of the three teams, Faith and Community, Faith and Curriculum, Faith, Diversity and Wellbeing, sent such powerful messages. The passion and commitment of each team was clearly evident as they shared what they have done and are doing; their goals, achievements, actions, community involvement, the ongoing growth of the pedagogical expertise of staff, building relationships, developing a safe and positive learning environment and so much more. 

The whole time I was at St. Patrick's I also saw and felt what I had read on the school's website, that "Catholic identity underpins all we do."

Throughout the day I was so aware of the active engagement and participation of each person in the room. The enthusiasm, the trust shown in sharing their experiences and ideas and the alignment evident in what they are doing; their goals and openness in moving forward and building on their learning as they continue to transform the research and practice based ideas and strategies of Schools That Deliver into action so constructively as they move closer to their shared vision.

Congratulations on all that St. Patrick's is doing.

Karin Morrison May 2022

In a 'school that delivers', the principal carries the vision, sensitivities, and skill sets of cultural change and creates the conditions in which teachers become the leaders of instruction and students become the leaders of the future (Edwards, J. and Martin, B., 2016, p.xiii). 

I leave St Patrick's assured that the teachers are the leaders of instruction. The staff are self motivated and they are creating the conditions for the students to become the leaders of the future.

The new principal of St Patrick's will receive the vision as a gift from the staff and together with the staff will ensure that all learners will continue to be engaged and motivated learners always faithful to a loving God and ....Learners will leave St Patrick's ready to make a positive impact on their world.

Mary & Lab Wilson from BATS Your vision your future
Karen Morrison Observer & colleague of John Edwards
The passionate and enthusiastic leaders and staff of St Patrick's for permission to share their photos, presentations and stories and be part of their incredible journey for the last 6 years.