If you’ve had multiple conversations with me or heard me speak about Christian schooling, I may have mentioned that, like Christian churches, Christian schools vary in the way they express their Christianity. In Australia, there are two main Christian school bodies. The larger of the two is Christian Schools Australia (CSA). Many, but certainly not all, schools affiliated with CSA have been established by churches. Our closest CSA school is Flinders Christian Community College. Bayside Christian College is a member of Christian Education National (CEN). Christian parents established our group of schools. To understand our approach to schooling, the CEN vision statement can be helpful. The CEN vision affirms the Lordship of Christ over all of creation, the gospel rather than culture should inform decision-making, and that parents are primarily responsible for the education of their children.
Over the past week, I have been at a number of meetings of organisations that the College is affiliated with. On Friday, I attend a combined principals’ meeting that included members from both CSA and CEN. Our guest at the meeting was Mr Joel Westa, who is the CEO of Christian Schools International, a group that represents Christian schools mainly in the United States and Canada, but also across the world. Mr Westa also toured Bayside Christian College on Tuesday morning. In conversation with him, he noted that there are challenges in Christian schooling in the United States that appear to be similar to the challenges that we face. One such challenge is equipping staff to ensure that practice matches the school's particular approach to schooling - their vision.
In our approach to schooling, we take seriously our belief in Christ’s Lordship and seek to have the gospel impact on our teaching and learning. Concretely, this means that we should not be confining faith to one aspect of the curriculum (a Bible class) or one school practice (devotions), as though there are some religious elements of life and other secular bits. Two mechanisms that we use to equip our staff to do this is facilitating postgraduate Master of Education training on Christian schooling; another is using a resource called "Transformation By Design", which provides some helpful templates, ideas and examples that connect the Biblical story to the curriculum.
Another challenge is providing Christian schools with leadership. Good governance ensures that Christian schools are compliant with their registration bodies, while maintaining practice consistent with their particular approach to Christian schooling. Likewise, school leaders need to have an understanding of our particular approach to schooling, and the ability to see that embedded into school culture. Training is needed. Fortunately, CEN provides many mechanisms to support our College in this.
Joel Westa said that, often, Christian schools did not actively promote their strengths. One such strength, that has been researched in North America by Cardus, has been the positive impact of Christian schooling on student outcomes. It is certainly my hope and intent that a Bayside Christian College education is a very positive one for the families here. As we start our Year 12 examinations, I will look forward to very soon celebrating many positive outcomes with our College families.
Should you be interested in looking at the Transformation By Design resource that we use please contact our Community Development Officer, Ben Williams, to borrow a copy.
Finally, I would like to announce the appointment of Mrs Donna Martin to the role of Prep-Year 2 Coordinator for 2018, while Miss Jo Dyer will be an Assistant Coordinator/Team Leader in Years 1-2. Please join with us in congratulating both Mrs Martin and Miss Dyer on their appointments.