Sydney Catholic Schools and ACU strengthen ties

ACU Vice Chancellor Professor Greg Craven and Executive Director of Sydney Catholic Schools Dr Dan White sign a memorandum of understanding.

Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS) and Australian Catholic University (ACU) have signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen their partnership and ensure the highest quality of teachers at Sydney Catholic schools.

The in-depth agreement will create more opportunities for teacher professional development and faith formation that are responsive to the needs of both teaching graduates and Catholic classrooms of the future.

The document was signed by Executive Director of Sydney Catholic Schools, Dr Dan White, and ACU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Greg Craven, on 9 November at Sydney Catholic Schools’ Leichhardt office.

The memorandum formalises a positive working relationship that has existed between the two education institutions for more than 25 years.

We want to see that our graduates … can go into their professional lives infused with the spirit of a Catholic ethos.

– Dr Dan White


Professor Craven said the partnership could become a model for other school systems, as the size of both entities made them influential in the Australian education landscape.

SCS is responsible for 152 low-fee Catholic Systemic schools in the Archdiocese of Sydney attended by more than 70,000 students, while ACU’s Sydney campus is one of six in Australia and the largest English-speaking Catholic university in the world.

The agreement includes provisions for paid internship opportunities at Sydney Catholic Schools in priority teaching areas including Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

A joint committee will also be established to further the memorandum’s aims and maintain closer strategic collaboration.

“The internship program is a very good example of something that comes through detailed discussion,” Dr White said.

“If you don’t have a structure to sustain initiatives like this, they fade after a year or two. One of the aims of the memorandum is to allow us to step up and evaluate ideas, to ensure they are sustainable, and to create highly positive outcomes for our graduates.

“As well as it being focused on our main mission of education, we want to be able to see that our graduates can see a pathway to ACU programs in all faculties – whether it is in Law, Business, or Psychology – and that they can go into their professional lives infused with the spirit of a Catholic ethos.”

The agreement would also potentially see more education practitioners from SCS working in the university through secondments, and young teaching students are interacting with practitioners at Sydney Catholic schools at a much earlier stage.

Professor Craven said the agreement embedded an attitude of strategic collaboration.

He was part of the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group in 2014, which advised the federal government of how teacher education courses could be improved to ensure new teachers had the right mix of academic and practical skills for their chosen career. He said the research found that internships and traineeships had the most influence on teacher quality.

“This isn’t just a good Catholic idea, it’s actually cutting-edge teacher research,” he said.

“It gives the real advantage to Catholic education if you have both ends of the spectrum tied together.”

“You would not find this depth of MOU in cooperation between another university and another school system anywhere in Australia.

“The complexity of the memorandum is such that the opportunities are enormous.”

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