A Systems Approach to Enhancing the Capacity of Teachers and Leaders in Catholic School Communities to Link Learning, Student Wellbeing, Values and Social Justice

  • Helen ButlerEmail author
  • Bernadette Summers
  • Mary Tobin


Good practice in learning, community strengthening and social justice in faith-based school communities needs to be underpinned by good practice in system partnerships and professional learning for teachers and leaders. This chapter describes how a Catholic education system and a Catholic university worked in partnership to develop and implement a postgraduate learning programme to support and enhance the work of teachers and leaders in Catholic school communities in the Archdiocese of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. The coherence and alignment between the development of this accredited professional learning and the goals of: Australian education; Catholic Education in Victoria; and individual school communities are highlighted. The particular learning and teaching approach is explored through one unit of the course that focuses on a whole school approach to social justice. The chapter concludes with some reflections on how this approach can enable critical reflection to take place on practice for teachers and leaders in faith-based school communities.


Australia Australian Catholic University (ACU) Catholic Catholic Education Office Melbourne (CEOM) Catholic social teaching Partnerships Professional learning Social justice Student wellbeing School improvement Values Wellbeing 


  1. Australian Catholic University. (2012a). Australian Catholic University handbook. Queensland: The Academic Registrar.Google Scholar
  2. Australian Catholic University. (2012b). EDFD651: Social justice: A whole school approach: Unit outline. Retrieved from ACU LEO site:
  3. Australian Catholic University. (2013a). Our university. Retrieved from
  4. Australian Catholic University. (2013b). Mission and profile. Retrieved from
  5. Australian Catholic University & Catholic Education Office Melbourne. (2008). Postgraduate Certificate in education (Wellbeing in inclusive schooling) information session) [DVD].Google Scholar
  6. Australian Social Inclusion Board. (2009). Building inclusive and resilient communities. Canberra: Australian Government. Retrieved from
  7. Bond, L., & Butler, H. (2010). The gatehouse project: A multi-level integrated approach to promoting wellbeing in schools. In A. Killoran & M. Kelly (Eds.), Evidence-based public health. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  9. Bryk, A., Bender Sebring, P., Allensworth, E., Luppescu, S., & Easton, J. Q. (2010). Organizing schools for school improvement: Lessons from Chicago. Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  10. Butler, H., Krelle, A., Seal, I., Trafford, L., Drew, S., Hargreaves, J., Walter, R., & Bond, L. (2011). The critical friend: Facilitating change and wellbeing in school communities. Camberwell: ACER Press.Google Scholar
  11. Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Ltd (CECV). (2009). About the commissions. Retrieved from
  12. Catholic Education Office Melbourne. (2006). School improvement framework. Retrieved from
  13. Catholic Education Office Melbourne. (2009a). Policy 2.26: Pastoral care of students in Catholic schools (Revised February 2009). Retrieved from
  14. Catholic Education Office Melbourne. (2009b). Student wellbeing: Central to learning and school improvement, student wellbeing research document 1 (Rev. ed.). Retrieved from Student Wellbeing Action Partnership website:
  15. Catholic Education Office Melbourne. (2009c). Learning centred schools, a sacred landscape: Learning and teaching framework & strategy 2009–2013: Strategy. East Melbourne: Catholic Education Office Melbourne.Google Scholar
  16. Catholic Education Office Melbourne. (2009d). Learning centred schools, a sacred landscape: Learning and teaching framework & strategy 2009–2013: Framework. East Melbourne: Catholic Education Office Melbourne.Google Scholar
  17. Catholic Education Office Melbourne. (2010a). CEOM student wellbeing strategy 2011–2015. Retrieved from
  18. Catholic Education Office Melbourne. (2010b). Catholic education Melbourne – Educating the whole child: About Catholic education. Retrieved from
  19. Catholic Education Office Melbourne. (2011). 2011–2015 directions for Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. East Melbourne: Catholic Education Office Melbourne.Google Scholar
  20. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). School connectedness: Strategies for increasing protective factors among youth. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved on January 30, 2013, from
  21. Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). (2008). Family–school partnerships framework: A guide for schools and families. Canberra: DEEWR. Retrieved from
  22. Figgis, J., Zubrick, A., Butorac, A., & Alderson, A. (2000). Backtracking practice and policies to research. In Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs Australia (Ed.), The impact of educational research (pp. 280–373). Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
  23. Fullan, M. (2006). Turnaround leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  24. Fullan, M. (2010). All systems go. The change imperative for whole system reform. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.Google Scholar
  25. Grant, C. (2009). Bottom-up struggle for social justice: Where are the teachers? In W. Ayres, T. Quinn, & D. Stovall (Eds.), Handbook of social justice in education (pp. 654–655). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Hargreaves, A., & Fink, D. (2006). Sustainable leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  27. Hornsby-Smith, M. P. (2006). Introduction to Catholic social thought. West Nyack: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. International Union for Health Promotion and Education. (2009). Achieving health promoting schools: Guidelines to promote health in schools. Retrieved from
  29. Leonard, C., Bourke, S., & Schofield, N. (2004). Affecting the affective: Affective outcomes in the context of school effectiveness, school improvement and quality schools. Issues in Educational Research, 14(1), 1–28.Google Scholar
  30. Malecki, C. K., & Elliott, S. N. (2002). Children’s social behaviors as predictors of academic achievement: A longitudinal analysis. School Psychology Quarterly, 17, 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Marshall, B., Sheehan, M., Northfield, J., Maher, S., Carlisle, R., & St Leger, L. (2000). School based health promotion across Australia. Journal of School Health, 70(6), 251–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Massaro, T. (2005). Nine themes of Catholic social teaching. In Living justice: Catholic social teaching in action (pp. 113–165). New York: Sheed & Ward.Google Scholar
  33. McGettrick, B. (2005). Perceptions and practices of Christian schools. In R. Gardner, J. Cairns, & D. Lawton (Eds.), Faith schools. Consensus or conflict? (pp. 105–112). New York: Routledge Falmer.Google Scholar
  34. McMeniman, M., Cumming, J., Wilson, J., Stevenson, J., & Sim, C. (2000). Teacher knowledge in action. In Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs Australia (Ed.), The impact of educational research. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
  35. Ministerial Council on Education Employment Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA). (2008). Melbourne declaration on educational goals for young Australians. Retrieved from
  36. Patton, G. C., Bond, L., Carlin, J. B., Thomas, L., Butler, H., Glover, S., et al. (2006). Promoting social inclusion in secondary schools: A group-randomized trial of effects on student health risk behaviour and well-being. American Journal of Public Health, 96(9), 1582–1587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Paulus, P. (2005). From the health promoting school to the good and healthy school: New developments in Germany. In S. Clift & B. B. Jensen (Eds.), The health promoting school: International advances in theory, evaluation and practice (pp. 55–73). Copenhagen: Danish University of Education Press.Google Scholar
  38. Ramsden, P. (2003). Learning to teach in higher education (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  39. Rogers, A. (2003). What is the difference? A new critique of adult learning and teaching. Leicester: National Institute of Adult Continuing Learning.Google Scholar
  40. Senge, P. (2000). Schools that learn: A fifth discipline fieldbook for educators, parents, and everyone who cares about education. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  41. Tobin, M., & Thomas, H. (2009). Student wellbeing – Who cares? The CEOM does! Learning Matters, 14(2), 8–11.Google Scholar
  42. University of Melbourne & Catholic Education Office Melbourne. (2007). Student Wellbeing Action Partnership (SWAP).
  43. Vinson, T. (2009). Social inclusion and early childhood development. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
  44. Welsh, M., Parke, R. D., Widaman, K., & O’Neil, R. (2001). Linkages between children’s social and academic competence: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of School Psychology, 39(6), 463–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. West-Burnham, J., Farrar, M., & Otero, G. (2007). Schools and communities: Working together to transform children’s lives. London: Network Continuum.Google Scholar
  46. World Health Organization. (1996). Development of health promoting schools: A framework for action, School Health Promotion Regional Guidelines: Series 5. Manila: World Health Organization.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationAustralian Catholic UniversityFitzroy MDCAustralia
  2. 2.Former Student Wellbeing ManagerCatholic Education Office MelbourneAlbert ParkAustralia

Personalised recommendations