Our Future Leaders – ACU by Professor Geraldine Castleton

///Our Future Leaders – ACU by Professor Geraldine Castleton

ACU’s mission statement clearly defines the kind of institution it is and what it aims to be. It also highlights the qualities of its staff and graduates, stating: “Within the Catholic intellectual tradition and acting in Truth and Love, Australian Catholic University is committed to the pursuit of knowledge, the dignity of the human person and the common good” See: http://acu.edu.au/about_acu/our_university/mission_and_profile

Staff and students within the Faculty of Education and Arts strive to exemplify the mission in all aspects of our daily lives, whether engaged in learning and teaching, research or working with our stakeholders and our communities.

One of the key roles of our Faculty is to prepare the next generation of education leaders through delivering our highly respected initial teacher programs as well as working with already qualified educators undertaking postgraduate coursework and research programs. We strive to explore, critique and address the various issues and challenges that are a part of the everyday lives of teachers, leaders, students and carers in educational institutions and communities. Like many educators, I regard the role of educator as affording us a unique privilege that provides opportunities to touch the lives of young people and play our part in enabling each young person to reach their full potential. In doing so, we prepare them for their future as educators and community leaders.

None of us would dispute the primary importance that education plays in the life of individuals and societies. Education is foundational to the social, economic and cultural well-being of any society. From earliest times, education has been about a quest for knowledge that can benefi t society by focusing on the common good and making a positive difference. At ACU, students’ capacity to ‘make a difference’ is greatly enhanced as the education experience is grounded in ‘the Catholic intellectual tradition’ based on the core mission to act in ‘Truth and Love’.

At ACU we carry on the best traditions of Mary MacKillop, a recognised leader in education in Australia. Her commitment to the intellectual, social and personal development of students, evidenced in the schools she founded, long before the beginnings of a formal public education system, is universally acknowledged and respected (Modystack (1985). ACU’s goal is to ensure that our graduates are effective and committed education practitioners who are similarly guided by Truth and Love. As leaders in their classrooms and contemporary education settings, they will provide an excellent education for, and act as role models to, the future leaders of our society.

Fundamental to our understanding is the significance of quality teaching in our students’ learning pathways. Our programs are underpinned by our belief in the role of teachers as leaders who provide this leadership through a wide range of roles that contribute to positive student outcomes and the success of educational institutions and their communities, including:

  • being excellent instructional and curriculum specialists;
  • providing leadership in content knowledge:
  • demonstrating a deep understanding of the inextricable links between curriculum, teaching and assessment;
  • deploying appropriate, differentiated teaching strategies and assessment practices that acknowledge and accommodate students’ different learning needs;
  • being expert in the identification and use of effective resources that aid students’ learning;
  • contributing to and encouraging peer mentoring and review through shared refl ective practice;
  • facilitating powerful learning opportunities with and for colleagues;
  • leading and engaging in data-informed practice; and
  • actively contributing to continuous improvement in their settings by acting as agents of change within their communities.

Finally, and most importantly, ACU’s Education programs stress the importance of educators being lifelong learners who constantly ask questions of themselves and of their practice to inform and improve their capacity to positively impact on students’ learning.

ACU is well-placed to work with educators aspiring to or holding leadership positions in Catholic educational contexts through the LaSalle Academy. This Academy, an exciting new ACU initiative, will have responsibility for the development, delivery and quality assurance of teaching and research programs. The primary focus is on the development and formation of teachers and leaders of religions education in Catholic Schools at undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral levels. The Academy will work closely with our Faculty of Theology and Philosophy and the Directorate of Identity and Mission to provide an integrated approach to curriculum development, course delivery, continuous assessment and formation, and be responsible for the delivery of faith engagement activities to our students and teachers in religious education.

A further example of ACU’s leadership role in working with current and future leaders in Catholic schools is the launch of the National Centre for Teacher Quality and Leadership, also housed within the Faculty of Education and Arts. This new Centre has a mandate to lead sustained high-quality professional learning and accreditation initiatives for principals, school leaders, teachers, academics and educational consultants. It will achieve these goals by building networks across our key stakeholders focusing on: teacher quality and leadership in the education and higher education; professional experience and workplace learning; and the revision and upgrading of policy, practice and community engagement with key industry partners.

Please visit www.acu.edu/au/education for news of these exciting developments.

History clearly demonstrates the importance of strong leaders and leadership in our society. Working with our partners in Catholic education, ACU is playing its part in building strong, visionary leaders for the future.

Professor Castleton is currently Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Education and Arts at Australian Catholic University.
Formerly Dean and Head of School of Education at the University of South Australia, she has also served as Head of School of Education at the University of Tasmania.

Professor Castleton spent twenty years as a primary teacher working in three Australian states before moving into the tertiary sector.

Professor Castleton, whose research interests are in literacy policy and practice in education contexts ranging from schooling to workplaces, has had a distinguished track record as a teacher educator, and as a researcher and consultant. She has more than 80 publications and she has been a co or sole-investigator on research and consultancy projects totalling more than $1 million.

Professor Castleton has had extensive experience in the professional development of teachers and tutors in Australia, UK and Ireland, and has served on state-based curriculum committees at primary, secondary and post-compulsory levels.

She has been a member of state and national advisory committees on research and curriculum, including as a member of the national advisory panel on the English Literacy curriculum and as a member of ACER’s expert literacy advisory group on the development of Literacy and Numeracy Testing in Initial Teacher Education (LANTITE).