August 7, 2012
Analyse and Present Research Information
A Report on Training and
Development in a Catholic College
Page 1 Cover Page
Page 2 Contents Page
Page 3 Executive Summary and Scope of Research
Page 4 Introduction to the Organisation
Page 5 Introduction to the Organisation
Page 6 Strategic Focus of the Organisation
Page 7 Strategic Focus of the Organisation
Page 8 Organisational Structure
Page 9 Organisational Structure
Page 10 Professional Development and the CEO
Page 11 Professional Development and the CEO
Page 12 Professional Development and the CEO
Page 13 Professional Development and the CEO
Page 14 Professional Development and the CEO
Page 15 Enterprise Eduction
Page 16 Focus On Learning
Page 17 Focus On Learning
Page 18 Focus On Learning
Page 19 Focus On Learning
Page 20 Focus On Learning
Page 21 Recommendations and Conclusions
Page 22 Recommendations and Conclusions
Continued Reference List and Appendixes
Executive Summary and Scope of Research
The format for this research report primarily revolved around interviews and questionnaires given and received from a sample portion of 15 staff members, in all realms of staffing: Teaching, Non-Teaching and Support Staff.
The overall response was whilst there was an awareness of Training and Professional Development at the College, the question is Training and Professional Development as valued by the institution as it is by all staff in all realms, is part of this a matter of having the correct courses, or just the ability to access them?
There were also a number of challenges that presented themselves during the investigation, these ranged from release time to course alignment to needs.
Secondary resources in the form of textbooks, handbooks, staff resource kits, guidance books and Internet sites were also used as supplementary research material.
Throughout the comprehensive research report we continually aimed to ascertain the degree of and, adequacy of Training and Professional Development in the College, while also analysing the accessibility of these Training and Professional Development initiatives offered to members of staff at the College.
Introduction to the Organisation
A Catholic College commenced in January 1999, born from the amalgamation of Loyola College (Mt. Druitt), St. Agnes High School (Rooty Hill) and Clare Catholic High School (Hassall Grove), which served the families of the surrounding parishes.
The mandate for the College is to provide comprehensive, quality education for young people from the feeder parishes and for other families who have chosen the school for their daughters and sons because of its curriculum offerings, geographical suitability or other affiliations. It is committed to maximizing the educational opportunities for all and to offer a learning environment where the values of the Gospel, Catholic Traditions, Sacramental and Prayer life are central.
Staff and students of A Catholic College belong to one unified school, which is richly diverse in its cultures, languages and experiences. Opportunities and structures will be developed during the formative years of the College’s life to facilitate and reinforce whole school integration.
Representative sporting teams and student interest groups will bring students together from the campuses. There will be combined activities for student leaders from all sites and the Student Representative Council will visit all year groups at various times. Staff should feel a sense of belonging and welcoming in the staff common rooms of all sites and are asked to be particularly aware of the shared responsibility for such hospitality.
Systems of staff communication are set up to maximize ease of the liaison across the campuses. The staff social committees are active in arranging and promoting functions and activities, which will enable staff of the campuses to mix and get to know one another better. The unity and cohesion of the College is the joint responsibility of all and it is incumbent on all staff to be open, welcoming and inclusive, with special care and awareness of the needs of new and beginning teachers.
The Motto and Crest of A Catholic College contains numerous empowering symbols. The Circle represents the perfection and mystery of God. The Cross-signifies the passion, death and life of Jesus Christ. The Three Waves are the three campuses and their journey of life.
The College’s name is its motto – A Catholic College. Christ our model, Catholic our values and purpose, College implies the importance of learning, teaching and knowledge.
The College believes in the person, model and teachings of Jesus Christ; the universal community and Christian values of Catholic Church and the paramount importance of learning and knowledge in today’s world.
Strategic Focus of the Organisation
A Catholic College is a tri-campus centre of learning, reflecting the life and mission of Jesus Christ. Inspired by Saint Agnes, Saint Clare and Saint Ignatius Loyola, the community of A Catholic College, seeks to: Stand with one another in the reality of our lives. Recognise and celebrate the dignity and worth of each person. Nurture relationships built on integrity and compassion, forgiveness and love. Engender a sense of hope for a better future.
In realizing and giving life to their vision, the community of A Catholic College endeavours to: Know and value one another. Provide a range of educational opportunities that respond to students’ needs. Nurture a positive learning environment, which promotes high standards of achievement. Promote responsibility, self-discipline and respect for one and other. Maintain a safe, peaceful and supportive environment. Empower each other to believe in ourselves and to make a difference for the better in our world.
As a community, A Catholic College, values: Integrity, Compassion, Hope, Solidarity and Learning.
The College’s Mission and Vision statement is strategically aligned with the Diocese’s Catholic Education Office (CEO) Vision Statement which makes reference to being committed to quality teaching and learning as well as being supportive of ongoing development of staff. The diocese’s Mission and Vision statement further goes to contain a whole section devoted to promoting Quality Teaching and support of Staff Development.
The CEO’s say that they recognise the need for professional development of their staff, to improve and harness their current talents and skills, as well as give new Knowledge Skills Attitude’s (KSA). Through this they realise the value the philosophy of career long learning by providing staff with access to appropriate development opportunities.
The Diocese also released its Statement on Teaching and Learning in Schools, which reinforces the CEO’s position on Professional Development. This makes reference to schools being a vibrant teaching and learning environment. It also says that good teachers have a wealth of knowledge about their subject matter and draw skilfully on a broad repertoire of teaching strategies.
Through all of these documents it would seem that the CEO and College have a strong commitment to Staff Professional Development and Training.
Professional Development in the CEO
A questionnaire in the Likert format was issued to 15 staff at the College. Staff comprised of teaching staff, non-teaching staff and support staff. A total of 15 responses were received back, ranking co-operation at 100%
Of those surveyed at the College, 33.33% strongly agreed that they were aware of the Training and Development opportunities available to them, whilst 53.33% agreed that they were aware of Training and Development Opportunities and finally 13.33% of those surveyed felt that they had an average awareness of training and development.
The question was also put to staff whether they have previously accessed Training and Development (other than the Focus On Learning Initiative), 33.33% strongly agreed, 53.33% agreed that they had and 13.33% said they had had an average access to Training and Development. It can be concluded that all staff surveyed in one way or another have accessed training and development.
Of those surveyed, 20% strongly agreed that they were happy with the level of training and development, 40% agreed, 26.66% said the courses were average in the fulfillment requirements, and finally 6.66% said the courses did not fulfill their requirements.
Range of courses – relevance
The Executive Director of Schools, Dr Anne Benjamin, in her preface to the Personal Development Programme 2003 identifies teachers as ” …the most precious resources we have in schools…” and with “…a discerning and a demanding public…” placing “higher expectations and greater pressures on education and schools than in any previous area…professional development is no longer just an option…it is a necessity.” (Professional Development and Networks Schedule CEO of Parramatta 2003:i)
The range of courses offered in the CEO of Parramatta are very diverse, it “…aligns itself with the aspirations of the diocesan Vision Statement…” and appears to cover a range of contempory issues, as “…schools select courses and in-services from the program which meet current needs” and are “congruent with the schools Personal Development Program” (Ibid, pii)
The courses offered are categorized in terms of who they are aimed at, for example. Primary, Secondary, Religious, IT, Leadership, Personnel (orientation), School Review Development, Curriculum, Learning Technology, Library, Special Education, Administration and Student Welfare.
There are over 200 courses for the year on offer, with dates, locations, descriptions, facilitator and registration details. There is a Network Registration Form in the back of the book which can be photocopied for multiple use, along with maps of venues. Most courses cater for however incur a higher fee for “other schools” such as Public and Non-CEO schools.
Courses range from Administration (First Aid, OH&S and Handling Media Interviews) to Liturgy (Religion) to Curriculum (literacy, IT, drama etc).
Courses contain a letter next to them (such as P=Primary, S=Secondary and PS=Primary/Secondary) so interested parties can tell at a glance if this course is relevant to them. This makes the Professional Development Handbook user friendly, letting staff view appropriate courses at a glance with ease.
Within the Questionnaire staff were asked if the Training and Development Opportunities fulfil their Training and Development Opportunities, of those surveyed; 20% Strongly Agreed, 40% Agreed, 26.66% said it was an average fulfilment, 6.66% disagreed, and 6.66% strongly disagreed.
Locations – who pays?
The venues for the courses are all around the area, which is covered by the CEO of Parramatta which include: Penrith Local Government Area, Lower Blue Mountains and Western Suburbs. A map is provided of the venues with directions.
Courses are charged to the schools and are GST free. Other schools can expect to be charged about 1/3 more to do the course.
Who available to
The bulk of the courses are of interest actively involved in teaching as they relate to teaching and curriculum.
Other courses available to support staff and administrators / co-ordinators are identified for co-ordinators and support staff. These courses relate to Leadership, Financial Management and Information Technology (IT).
Some courses with a Catholic focus such as sabbaticals only listed prices for Catholic Schools, which could mean they are only available to Catholic Schools.
Schools also run special school based in-services (Pupil Free Days). These days vary from things such as the annual staff retreat, which is normally held early in term one of each year. Other courses include but are not limited to; Chemical Safety In Schools, Child Protection Legislation and Schools, Occupational Health and Safety and Schools, as well as motivational and Key Learning Area Specific Speakers.
Nothing could be found in the book to indicate courses weren’t optional, however courses relating to smooth running of the school or exploring new teaching trends/inclusion to curriculum would certainly be in the best interest of the school to have staff attend.
Teachers can arrange casual teachers to take their classes for them if they choose to do a course during school term. These casual teachers can come from within the school or from outside, teachers must have their session plans organised well in advance to ensure their students are not disadvantaged by their absence.
Teachers receive no financial incentive to complete these courses. It is seen as in investment in their career and if they choose to pursue additional studies in their spare time it is purely out of interest.
In the instance that there are insufficient numbers to run the course, it will be cancelled.
The bulk of the courses relate to teaching, however support staff are catered for, as Personal Development “is a valued help in enabling school leaders, teachers and support staff to be effective in their service of school communities. (Ibid, pii)
The Challenges of Accessing Training and Development
The Question’s read as follows, “What challenges do you see in accessing Training and Development opportunities, either through the college or the CEO?”
The responses to this were quite varied, with 20 % of the total survey group returning invalid answers. The following percentages quoted are based on valid responses.
The most common response was shared between “Awareness/availability of relevant Courses” and “Time availability” which were both present in 33.3% of surveys. The lack of available funding for T & D courses was sited by 25% of the group as the prominent restriction. Where 16.6% of the group considered “The need to replace staff on the course (Release time)” and, particularly amongst support staff “The pressure placed on others by having someone away on a course”.
Most responses had a negative tone to them however there was one with quite a positive tone. This response stated that there were no perceived challenges as the college sees the benefits of the courses, the person has access to the handbook (therefore aware of all the available courses), and they have never been knocked back when applying for a course. It is assumed this is both by the college and by the convenor of the course.
It seems that the main challenges are in the form of:
A Funding for courses, and for relief staff to allow release time.
B Personal time availability to attend courses.
C Information and publicity on available courses, and particularly in the case of support staff, courses that are relevant to their line of work.
To dispel part of the last point one of the respondents sighted the main challenge as, “Getting all staff to attend the Training and development opportunity seminar once a year”.
In The Enterprising School, Conning defines Enterprise Education as: “Learning directed towards developing in young people those skills, competencies, understandings, and attributes which equip them to be innovative, and to identify, create, initiate, and successfully manage personal, community, business and work opportunities including working for themselves.” (Conning, 2002:5)
The “potential” benefits of Enterprise Education are, among others, student focused, seeking to increase the “education outcomes” and relevance, reduce alienation and foster communities, with a high student and staff satisfaction as schools are more valued in the community. (Ibid)
The implications of Enterprise Education are recognised as being long term. The “good teaching practice”…”is about helping students to become independent learners and above all, to be prepared to take responsibility for their known future development.” (Ibid, p7)
It is presented as a being a joint approach between school, teacher and community to encourage, mentor, and provide feedback to students as a tool for “later success”.
The model is seen as being mutually advantageous to school and local community, as, simultaneously relationships are strengthened and students are prepared for “…the competitive demands of the economy…” (Ibid, p6)
Focus On Learning
Focus on Learning – what is it all about?
The first Focus on Learning conference began in 2002 and ongoing until 2004. The most recent conference was held at Sydney Showground, Homebush on 12-13 May 2003.
This program was initiated by the Catholic Education Office’s Religious Education and Educational Services team who wanted to come up with a plan for ensuring learning remained central to the agenda of all staff in the Parramatta Diocese.
Its main objective is for educators to renew their practice as educators by participating in a wide range of activities.
How will this initiative benefit staff?
Staff were enquired on how they believe that the Focus On Learning Conference benefited them, a lot of staff said that this conference offered staff networking opportunities that had not previously happened, this was because it brought every member of staff in the diocese together.
It was also suggested that ‘older’ staff were helped a great deal by their ‘fresher’ colleagues – their ideas and integrating technology into the classroom.
Staff also appreciated the wide and appropriate variety of courses on offer to staff at the conference; these courses ranged from technology to Pilate’s, telephone techniques to bullying in the school environment.
The conference also gave a lot of staff backing up in their ideas for possible changes and improvements to teaching and school administration.
“It is hoped that everyone will benefit from Focus on Learning – teachers, school support staff, CEO staff. Initiative/support grants of $3000-$5000 are available to teachers or groups of teachers wishing to develop a good idea or consolidate good practice. There are also opportunities for increased sharing and networking among teachers with access to quality input and sharing at the conference. Benefits also include the possibility of more school based professional development and use of schools as sites for professional visits.” (http://www.ceo.parra.catholic.edu.au, 2002, p20)
Learning in the 21st Century
According to Dale Spender in the excerpts of his speech on Focus on Learning, “Today’s education system is not functioning adequately as students that come to schools to learn are either being taught what they already know and who are having what they know and, and how they know it , discounted.” (ibid)
“This is particularly the case with the new technologies. He suspects that one of the greatest contributing factors to the so-called underachievement and alienation of boys, who instead of being praised for their digital dexterity, are denounced for their disturbing habits associated with music downloads, and video games, etc. This denial of aptitude, talent, and skill breaks the first principles of teaching: That you start with the resources, capabilities and strengths of the learners, and then you build upon them.” (ibid)
Learning Outside the Classroom
“Learning in this day and age is no longer confined in the classroom and that there is so much knowledge being produced so quickly, so widely and readily available that educational institutions no longer have a monopoly on knowledge or learning. (ibid)
For the first time in history, we are faced with the reality that the kids know more about the new technologies than the older generation.” (ibid)
“In the print era, the primary source of information was the book, and in the digital era, the primary source of information is the computer – or a mobile, or hand held – or some equivalent.” (ibid)
“This is all the new stuff that teachers need to know if they are to begin to do their job adequately.” (ibid)
“And when teachers take up this new form of communication, when they understand that multimedia is as important now in education, as was essay writing and text book reading, last century, their classroom change, beyond recognition.” (ibid)
“The classroom become places where both teachers and students are not only learning together; but where the learning is empowering, enjoyable, energising – and fun. Where much of it is informal, and where similarities with classrooms of old are very hard to find.” (ibid)
Creating Resilient Learners
Andrew Fuller on the excerpt of his speech on Focus on Learning said, “resilient learners are good managers of their learning. However, we should not expect children to be able to organise their learning. Developing the habits for good learning involves building routines within which students can organise their time.” (ibid)
“Resilient learners are more willing to have a go and are able to tolerate the uncertainty of not knowing. We need to show students how to make mistakes as well as how to tolerate not knowing over periods of time. As Guy Claxton has pointed out, teachers need to show students “what to do when you don’t know what to do.” (ibid)
“We often try to focus on the positives and strengths of a student. However, trying to protect students from failure may decrease their sense of challenge and reduce their chances of becoming a resilient learner. It may be preferable to actively promote the experience of coping with mistakes and overcoming these.” (ibid)
“People often get fixated on the quick answer rather than reflecting and thinking an issue through. Tolerance for uncertainty may be promoted by clearly not requiring the fastest answer but by presenting problems as a series of conundrums, dilemmas or riddles each building in levels.” (ibid)
Building Psychological Resilience
In his speech Care of the Self – Building Psychological Resilience, Dr Roger F. Peters emphasises the importance of “caring for the self”. “Teachers need to realise that in order to create resilient learners, there must also be a resilient teacher. Psychological health like our physical health are synonymous. That is when caring for ourselves, we actually care for our soul.” (ibid)
“Your own welfare becomes critical not only in relation to you quality of life, but also to those around. In this way, by considering your own psychological wellbeing as a priority there is more than just a selfish imperative. Your own wellbeing significantly influences the wellbeing of others around you, especially your family and your school.” (ibid)
Staff Suggestions on the Improvement of T&D Programmes
Among the suggestions the Support Staff mentioned were: more funding for T&D; more courses on offer; there should be follow-up with trainees to determine the degree of knowledge they have acquired from the training; there should be a more hands on programs in Words, Excel, Internet, Oasis, etc.; cross-training between jobs in their offices and more college based training programs to benefit the college as a whole.
Among the Teachers suggestions were: opportunity to give feedback on T&D programs; follow-ups on T&D programs; more funding on T&D; should be based on Action-Research to allow time to develop/refine skills or approaches; majority suggested of an on-going training and to implement ideas presented at in-service courses.
Overall, four out of fifteen respondents did not suggest anything on improvement but majority did and they were mostly on more funding, more courses on offer, an ongoing training and follow-ups after training.
Recommendations and Conclusions
The Staff were also questioned on their opinions for improvements to the Systems of Training and Development in the College/Diocese.
Several staff members said that they believe that the Training and Professional Development Programmes would be a lot more effective if there was some form of follow up, from both the Diocese or Convenor and their supervisors. Part of this follow up should be giving the Trainees the opportunity to implement what they have learned and comeback together as a group and discuss the results and possible improvements or alterations that have been made to the processes. This also suggests that staff believe in ongoing training and Development.
All realms of staff said that it would be beneficial to all to have more courses in the areas of School Management, Administration and Leadership as well as general administration courses – how ever these courses should give practical knowledge not just theoretics.
It was also suggested that it become policy for staff to attend at least one Training Course a year, which also subsequently suggests that there is a need for increased funding in the Training and Development areas.
It has immerged that staff feel the need for increased consultation in the development and implementation of training and development training programmes.
Throughout this investigation we conclude that Training and Development is a priority to everyone, however, there are restrictions, which inhibits the staff’s ability to take full advantage of these wonderful opportunities.
It should be strongly recommended that to gain more interest and involvement in Professional Development that increased more staff consultation take place during the design of the yearly programmes. Staff consultation could only bring what should be much desired in put by the people the courses are targeted for, in gaining their input targets will be reached.
Possible compulsory training of one course per year would be beneficial, however it could also inhibit more, by creating resentment to the courses, however, if done correctly it should benefit staff and the students.