Student teachers of Catholic and multi-faith backgrounds are learning about the distinct identity of Catholic schools, including the values, ethics, and moral reasoning, thanks to an expanding Australian Catholic University program.
The ACU/Brisbane Catholic Education Spiritual and Pedagogical Accompaniment (SPA) Program is Brisbane-based with plans to expand throughout Queensland.
Australia has 1,755 Catholic schools serving more than 777,000 students. One in five school students are enrolled in the Catholic education system, which employs over 100,000 teachers and staff.
ACU education expert Amanda Gutierrez partnered with Brisbane Catholic Education to develop the program, which sees student teachers volunteer one day each week in their placement school, throughout their six or 12-month experience, while shadowing a teacher. This allows them to make connections to their school, their students, and the staff prior to their block placements completed in the same partner school.
“The SPA Program is working to educate student teachers about the ‘distinct’ Catholic school culture. The program is inclusive, and we welcome student teachers from all faiths or no faith who are willing to undertake a journey of spiritual accompaniment to deepen their own spirituality and beliefs informed by a contemporary Catholic worldview,” Dr Gutierrez said.
“It’s a wholistic mentoring program that provides support across the areas of spiritual exploration, teaching practice, curriculum, and understanding of school culture/community.
The program offers graduating students a valuable point of difference because it educates them in the Church’s mission, values and spiritual beliefs.”
Brisbane Catholic Education Office head of Catholic identity Alain Pitot said, “This partnership between ACU, the schools and Brisbane Catholic Education aims to better prepare student teachers in what it means to work and belong to a Catholic school community.”
PHOTO: Seated outside at ACU’s McAuley Campus in Brisbane are (from left) Brisbane Catholic Education Office Head of Catholic Identity Alain Pitot, ACU Faculty of Education lecturer Dr Amanda Gutierrez, ACU student teacher Hannah Scott and ACU SPA Program Companion Dr Leigh Stower.