Christian Brothers College SA
Christian Brothers College (CBC), in central Adelaide, is a Catholic school catering for boys from early childhood to Year 12. The college has an enrolment of approximately 1360 students, representing 42 diverse cultural groups, 17 different faith traditions and 105 postcodes across the city. The college is advanced in its Asia capability journey with a well-established moral purpose of implementing an Asia literate strategy R-12 through high quality teaching and learning.
CBC has undertaken a highly considered and strategic approach in progressing this moral purpose. A key success factor in the college's journey has been the establishment of the Asia Literacy Advisory Group that includes both internal and external representatives. One of the internal groups represented on the Advisory Group is comprised of students.
Community partners have injected energy into the college's decision making by offering non-traditional and creative ideas, as well as providing a range of opportunities that would otherwise not have been considered or accessed. Examples of this include the strong links to the state's Confucius Institute and its human resources, learning resources and strategic contacts. Visits to the college by organisations such as the Beijing Opera Company have added to the celebratory and inclusive nature of the college's engagement with Asian languages and culture, while the hosting of overseas delegates has enhanced the college's reputation as a leader in this field.
College leadership has provided significant support to the Advisory Group. It offers ample time for dialogue and deliberation, to help the group to map out its processes and resources it adequately. In this way group members drive the agenda. The leadership support is seen as a critical ingredient for success, with both the principal and deputy principal exhibiting passion and enthusiasm for the college's efforts to build on its achievements.
The clever targeting of those internal and external stakeholders who may not have played a role in enhancing Asia capability in the past has been a further key action supported by college leaders and the Advisory Group. The college has adopted a policy of 'creativity' to engage staff and students more actively, and fully exploit the opportunities that have presented themselves through the strategic partnerships formed beyond the school fence. This Advisory Group approach is perceived as highly effective and has been extended to include other college priorities, such as literacy.
CBC has established a strong partnership with the state's Catholic Education Office to shape the state-wide strategic plan for all Catholic schools and has forged a strategic partnership with another Catholic school, Cardijn College.
The college principal, deputy principal and head of languages have all participated in the 2013–2014 Leading 21st Century Schools: Engage with Asia (L21CS) Programme. They have found this to be very affirming and it has given them the opportunity to establish further networks of like-minded educators. The college is engaging in teacher exchanges and in-country visits for staff and students and are always looking for additional professional learning opportunities through organisations such as the Confucius Institute.
In terms of professional learning, the members of the Advisory Group have been taken through the L21CS learning modules by the principal, deputy principal and head of languages, while experts such as Professor Martin Westwell and Catholic Education consultants have worked with staff on critical and creative thinking workshops. Staff have worked on identifying the conditions for learning and these now provide a degree of consistency across all year levels.
The college's mission statement talks about 'rising above the ordinary' while promoting the ideal of 'a just world'. The learning initiatives that are embedded into the college's curriculum are highly reflective of these belief statements, as evidenced by the practical humanitarian work that staff and students carry out in Asian countries. The college believes that including fun in the learning process is key and has built opportunities for celebration into its approach.
CBC leaders and staff are attempting to ensure that the progress it has made over the past four years is sustainable by considering other ways of sharing their successes with other schools. They are embedding Asia capability into their continuous improvement plan (not just their shorter term strategic plan) and utilising a strong evidence-base for ongoing decision-making in a collaborative manner. Regular curriculum audits are undertaken and attitude surveys of teachers are periodically administered.
In 2013, CBC participated in the Australia–China BRIDGE School Partnerships Programme through the Catholic Education Office South Australia.