More than 100 Catholic school board chairs and representatives met in Perth on Friday 20 September to discuss their role in their communities and the future of school governance.
The Catholic Schools Board Chair Conference, a biennial event, consisted of an afternoon with a keynote and workshop sessions, before Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral.
After a Welcome to Country by Shaun Nannup, Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) Executive Director Dr Debra Sayce spoke about the recently announced incorporation of the Catholic education system in WA, which will come into effect from January 2020.
Dr Sayce pointed to the benefits of incorporation, while saying that little would change in the day-to-day operations at the 162 Catholic schools and colleges in the state.
“The new governance structure will provide greater transparency and clarity, and at a management level, it will strengthen our legal, risk and financial compliance frameworks,” she said.
After touching on incorporation, Dr Sayce’s keynote shifted focus to the Catholic Education Commission of Western Australia’s (CECWA) Strategic Directions, sharing how she saw each of the four directions intersecting with the work of school boards.
The afternoon’s workshop sessions were led by CEWA Legal Counsel Bernard Hill, as well as Board Chair of Holy Rosary School in Doubleview Jonathon Woolfrey.
Mr Hill led a highly-interactive discussion on the consultative LOFT (Learning Our Futures Together) project he is heading up for the CECWA, to inform future policy development for Catholic schools.
Board chairs and representatives had opportunities throughout the sessions to discuss, ask questions and have their say on what makes a good Catholic school, with ideas collected and collated for inclusion in the LOFT process.
Mr Woolfrey steered the last session of the afternoon towards a reflection on boards past, present and future, drawing on his experience as both a Catholic school board chair and with boards and governance in other organisations.
The conference Mass was held at St Mary’s Cathedral, and celebrated by Perth Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton, who joined delegates and guests including CECWA commissioners for a networking dinner following Mass.