Leaders’ Forum 2021 – Quality Catholic Education on the Agenda

Catholic school Principals and senior leaders from across the State gathered this week, along with CEWA Executive and office staff, at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre for the first Catholic Education Leaders’ Forum for 2021.

After the COVID-19 response saw the bi-annual event held as a series of smaller-scale forums in July 2020, updated health advice on the changing situation allowed for leaders from CEWA’s 163 schools and colleges to meet at one venue again for a day of addresses, facilitated discussions and workshops. 

With the forum falling just ahead of the upcoming State election, time was set aside on the agenda for discussing the importance of the CEWA system within the education sector more broadly.  

Minister for Education and Training, the Honourable Sue Ellery MLC, presented a keynote address, as did Director General of the Department of Education, Lisa Rodgers.

Ms Rodgers stayed after her address for a Q and A with questions from Catholic Primary Principals Association WA President Mark Powell, and Catholic Secondary Principals Association President Geoff Mills, focused on education standards and policy, student growth and achievement, and whole-system improvement.

A video message prepared by Liberal Party leader Zak Kirkup, presenting his party’s plan for education was also shared at the forum. 

The key priority of the agenda was to pick up where the previous Leaders’ Forum Roadshow meetings in 2020 left off, looking at the continuing development of the Quality Catholic Education (QCE) framework. 

Members of the CEWA Executive and senior leadership group, with support from leadership consultant Brendan Spillane, provided an update and led facilitated discussions and workshops to gain further input from principals and school leaders specifically focusing on a system-wide policy suite, and how it could best lead to school and system improvement. 

The 50th anniversary of CEWA as one system, the 200th anniversary of Catholic education in Australia, and 2021 as the Year of St Joseph were all themes that framed the day, with Dr Debra Sayce reflecting on their importance in her keynote address, and a 200-Year commemorative video from the National Catholic Education Commission being screened. 

“While the focus of Catholic Education Leaders’ Forums is about looking ahead, today’s forum is unique in that 2021 gifts us the opportunity to reflect and to learn from our history – as far back as 200 years ago and as recently as last year,” Dr Sayce said. 

“While I am certain many of us were happy to leave the experiences of 2020 behind, it is our response to significant challenges like these that has seen Catholic education grow to become the second largest education provider in our State. It is the fortitude of our school leaders and the commitment to vocation of our staff that is increasingly valued by parents who choose a Catholic school for their children.” 

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