Catholic Identity - Curriculum

Religious Education and Faith Formation Team

The Religious Education and Faith Formation (REFF) Team had several strategic work priorities, including development of the new Religious Education curriculum and consolidated human sexuality curriculum, research initiatives with enhancing Catholic school identity, supporting the sector’s incorporation of the CESA Key Capabilities, support for Assistant Principals Religious Identity and Mission, religious leadership development, and staff spiritual and religious formation. The team continued to provide various important operational services, including the Graduate Certificate in Catholic Education, contribution to the Teacher Induction Module, teacher professional development in the religious domain, the Catholic Professional Formation Allowances, Ecological Conversion services, prayer and liturgy school support, and the National School Chaplaincy Program.  

Religious Education Curriculum and Learning

Crossways Curriculum

Throughout 2022, a key focus for the Crossways Core Team (consisting of four REFF Advisors) has been supporting schools in the second year of using the Crossways Curriculum to design teaching and learning in Religious Education.  A key priority has been the development of resources to support assessment in Religious Education including the use of Performance Standards.

Term 1 saw a quick pivot of Crossways core work to support remote Religious Education learning in response to the staggered start of the 2022 school year. REFF Advisors developed mini units of RE ready for teachers to adapt or adopt. These learning designs included teaching strategies and resources.

Assessment in Religious Education has been a major focus for the Crossways Core Team in 2022 with the consolidation of the Crossways Performance Standards and the development of the Assessment in Religious Education Guidelines.  The Team was required to re-write elements of the Performance Standards to align with the approach and language being used by the CESA Curriculum and Learning Team who were developing Australian Curriculum v9 Learning Area Performance Standards. The shift included the use of cognitive verbs assigned across a five-point scale (A-E). 

24 CESA schools (primary and secondary) took part in the Crossways Performance Standards Engagement and Feedback Process in Term 2. School APRIMs and teachers provided feedback regarding how well the Crossways Performance Standards supported their ability to make judgements about student achievement in RE across an A-E scale.  Teachers and APRIMs also provided feedback about language, genre and support needed to move forward. The feedback was applied to the Performance Standards, and they were made available to schools via the Crossways website and the Catholic Identity and Mission Hub at CESA Religious Leaders Day in Term 3.

Alongside the development of Performance Standards, the Crossways Core Team updated the 2006 Discussion Paper: ‘Assessment and Reporting in RE’. The newly developed 2022 ‘Assessment in Religious Education Guidelines’ were written to be read in conjunction with the ‘Assessment in Catholic Education’ Reference Paper’ which clearly articulates CESA’s vision for contemporary assessment across all curriculum areas. The Guidelines name the particularities and considerations for assessment in Religious Education in South Australian Catholic schools. The Assessment in Religious Education Guidelines also included RE timetabling requirements.

2022 saw the responsive implementation of the new SACE subject Spiritualities, Religion and Meaning (SRM). Most schools opted to offer SRM in Stage 1 this year and this was supported by REFF Advisors, SACE staff and lead practitioners who facilitated multiple professional learning opportunities focusing on understanding the 6 Big Ideas, the assessment types and developing Learning and Plans (LAPs). REFF advisors have been regularly checking-in on schools and offering support. A Microsoft Teams space was created for teachers of SRM to share ideas and resources.  2 professional learning workshops were presented late in term 4 to support the broader roll-out of Stage 2 in 2023.  In 2022, 14 schools taught Stage 1, and 6 schools opted to teach Stage 2.

CESA’s Crossways Curriculum was highlighted at the BBI (The Australian Institute of Theological Education) National RE Symposium: Scripture in Religious Education: Teaching and Transformation held in Sydney in June. Alison Gore: Acting Senior Education Advisor, Spiritual and Religious Formation was invited to deliver a keynote presentation featuring the Crossways Curriculum and its intentional design to develop the skills of interpretation in Scripture.

A workshop by Marcia Burgess: Senior Education Advisor, Religious Education Curriculum and Melanie O’Leary: Education Advisor: Middle Years, was presented in Melbourne during the 2022 National Catholic Education Conference -The Future is Listening. CESA’s new model of Social Entrepreneurial Learning ‘Limitless Possibilities’ was shared with conference participants and highlighted how Crossways explicitly foregrounds the principles of Catholic Social Teaching which support the development of a social entrepreneurial mindset. 

The Crossways Core Team continued to build the capacity of APRIMs to lead curriculum in their school communities through:

creation of two Mini Modules supporting the learning design process in RE using the Crossways website and Assessment in RE and using Performance Standards
Professional Learning opportunities at regional gatherings
development of example Crossways Learning Designs including assessment tasks and Performance Standard rubrics for each two-year stage. 
development of a Crossways Reflection and Audit Tool to support the review of Crossways in schools.

In support of teachers new to Catholic Education SA, the induction module “Now that I’m Teaching RE” was re-invigorated via new learning platform of Rise 360 ready for participants in 2023.

The Crossways website, in partnership with Boylen, had some minor enhancements in response to user requirements.  Some of these included: an easy click accesses to content elaborations, a ‘Print All’ option for each year level, online links to mandated Scriptural texts and an improved user sign up experience.  Continuing conversations about approval of the Crossways curriculum occurred in 2022. Final approval of the Crossways Curriculum is still pending. 

Visit the RE Curriculum website

Enhancing Catholic School Identity

The REFF Team continued its role in the CEO’s support for CESA strategic planning and initiatives in light of the CESA Towards 2027: Expanding Horizons and Deepening practices, the CESA Living Leading Framework and Standard. The Enhancing Catholic Identity Reference Group continued to provide oversight for this work on behalf of the Catholic Identity and Mission Standing Committee.

There were several major Enhancing Catholic School initiatives that were supported in 2022:

  • Three schools undertook the Enhancing Catholic School Identity (ECSI) Research with a combination of quantitative and qualitative surveys.
  • The 2022 Online Enhancing Catholic Identity Masterclasses provided professional learning for systems and universities that are involved in collaboration with Leuven University (KUL) and ECSI research initiatives. This consisted of eight sessions over four weeks, and provided an opportunity for continuing collaboration, learning and engagement with new developments. There were 18 participants from South Australia.
  • 2022 CESA hosted ACU Master Unit: Enhancing Catholic Identity – Introducing the Leuven Project and was offered online.
  • CESA continued its contribution to the Australian ECSI Professional Learning Consortium and engaged in the development of a Resurrection resource for teachers, being developed in partnership with KUL.

Religious Literacy Assessment Tool (ReLAT)

This year ReLAT focused on content from the Crossways curriculum in the Year 3 & 4 stage from the five Knowledge Strands.  The questions reflected the expectation that Year 4 students would have covered most of the Year ¾ content over the 2021-2022 period. The state average for ReLAT was 63.6%. Schools were provided with individual student, class and school reports that could be downloaded from the online site. Data analysis sessions were facilitated by Advisors to assist schools to analyse their data.

Assistant Principals Religious Identity and Mission

Ten substantive Assistant Principal Religious Identity and Mission (APRIM) positions were advertised and filled during 2022. In three of these schools the APRIM vacancy occurred through the APRIM retiring.  Other vacancies occurred due to movement of APRIMs to other leadership positions. Eleven acting APRIM positions were also filled throughout the year with vacancies occurring due to movement of APRIMs to other leadership positions or leave. Five schools asked for exemptions to the APRIM Policy (2020) to appoint Acting RECs as the designated religious leader for a specified period. These appointments were made after consideration of the pastoral situation of the school or because there were no applicants for the acting position that met the specific criteria for the role of APRIM.

Religious Leadership Development

The APRIMs and Religious Education Coordinators (RECs) appointed to both substantive and temporary positions for the 2022 year were supported both formally and informally by the Leadership Development and REFF Teams). The REFF Team provided all new APRIMs with direct support and companioning both in 1:1 and group modes. A successful development was the introduction of four online learning modules for those appointed as substantive APRIMs or in 12 month acting positions. These modules covered documents foundational to the Catholic identity and mission of CESA schools and allowed new leaders to consider their use in their school context. These online modules added another dimension to the once a term peer support gatherings that were offered (2 face to face, 2 online) focusing on reflection, leadership development and formation.

The REFF Team also assisted with the Aspiring Leaders Program Year 1 discussing what it means to be a Catholic leader and/or a leader in a Catholic school and the collaborative nature of religious leadership. Online workshops were provided to teachers who may be considering designated religious leadership (But I’m not Holy Enough!), those considering applying for APRIM positions (Applying for APRIM Positions) and on APRIM Appraisal (How do I know I’m doing a good job?). Participants appreciated the learning offered by these sessions and the ability to connect into them after school.

The APRIM Renewal and Enrichment Program allocated funds to seven applicants for 2022. Three applicants used funds to complete the Capstone unit of their Masters studying the area of theology and three were able to attend interstate conferences (BBI- TAITE RE Symposium and the NCEC Conference), the seventh applicant attended a retreat. The Religious Leadership Formation Program, which makes funds available to those exercising religious leadership other than APRIM, had four applicants with monies allocated to the BBI-TAITE RE Symposium and the NCEC Conference.

The REFF Team continued to collaborate and support the two religious leadership associations, the Primary Religious Identity and Mission Association (PRIMA) and the Secondary Religious Education Leaders Association (SRELA). PRIMA offered a number of professional learning opportunities for its members across 2022.  These included an afternoon of learning conversations and a discussion around gathering data for the upcoming Diocesan Assembly. The next day focussed on exploring the theme of Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor which started with some theological input from Michael Trainor (Senior Lecturer, Biblical Studies, ACU). PRIMA also engaged with Catholic Mission and our call to engage in awareness raising and fundraising activities through the Socktober campaign. The final day responded to a request from members to learn more about planning staff reflection days. This day was facilitated by Jacinta Astachnowicz (Catholic Identity and Mission Adviser) and a number of APRIMs shared their experiences leading formation days for their staff.  SRELA provided networking, collaboration and professional Learning opportunities for APRIMs, RECs and identified emerging leaders. This involved a day of collaborative learning aimed at developing knowledge, skills, and resources to support leadership that excels in the Catholic Identity domain within the Living, Learning & Leading Framework for Catholic Education in SA. They also hosted a reflection experience based on contemplative prayer, an invitation into awareness, connection and renewal facilitated by Lillian Van Brussell (APRIM).

Regional Approach

The REFF team continued to develop and build regional networks for APRIMs. This involved developing a collaborative professional learning community with a focus on strategic planning in Catholic Identity and Mission through use of performance standards with Crossways and a focus on student formation and wellbeing. A combination of face to face and online meetings were held in each term which culminated in a sharing of their strategic planning and key foci in 2022 and emerging trends and strategy for Catholic Identity in 2023.

Catholic Identity Advisor - Diocese of Port Pirie

The Catholic Identity Advisor’s role continued support of those in religious leadership in schools within the Diocese of Port Pirie in collaboration and partnership with the broader CIM Team. The key focus in 2022 continued to be the implementation of the redesigned Crossways curriculum with a particular focus on authentic learning design. This involved the facilitation of online regional meetings, cluster meetings and individual meetings with each school leader of Catholic identity and mission. This further developed religious leadership capabilities in leading RE curriculum design in each school context.

Support was provided throughout the year to religious leaders for their ongoing work with school staff to support student spiritual and religious formation using the 2022 Diocesan theme of Who is my neighbour? Religious leaders were involved in a formational experience in November, facilitated by Helen McKeough (Catholic Identity Advisor, Port Pirie), in preparation for the 2023 theme Called to Community.

Online networking opportunities for teachers were facilitated throughout the year. A series of online professional learning workshops for Early Career Teachers were offered in the area of prayer and liturgy.