A partnership unleashing leaders to drive system, school and student outcomes

A partnership unleashing leaders to drive system, school and student outcomes

Catholic Education Services, Diocese of Cairns, services 29 Catholic schools and 11,000 students. In 2015, as part of a nationwide system reform to a culture of co-responsibility and subsidiarity focused on wellbeing and learning for all students, the Diocese of Cairns entered into a partnership with QELi, enabling participation in the Executive Development for Educational Leaders Program (Catholic Sector).

Facilitated by QELi, the 12-month program brings senior catholic sector leaders from across Australia together to collaborate, share learning experiences and drive and shape the system’s future leadership, policies and practices to improve students outcomes.

The impact of this partnership and the Diocese’s ongoing participation in the program has reverberated across its entire reform process, influencing system and school structures, educational reform strategies and partnerships and individual capacities. The Diocese’s schools and classrooms are changing, its national and international education networks have multiplied and it is constantly learning, framing and reframing its reform processes.

A shared vision of leadership and collaboration supported by high impact, evidence based professional learning and a focus on program design and evaluation underpin the work between QELi and the Diocese. Critical elements include an embedded Catholic focus, system and school leaders learning together, practical research, a study tour, learning with, and from, international educational thought leaders, and national and international networking. A long-term commitment from QELi to maintaining the unique components and quality of the program and an ongoing willingness to co-collaboration continues to be pivotal. The ultimate outcome has been reform and re-energising for both the Diocese of Cairns and QELi.

The Executive Development for Educational Leaders Program (Catholic Sector) is a professional development initiative designed for principals and system leaders from Catholic Dioceses across Australia. It is intended for educators who want to contribute to, and lead, the sector’s response to ensuring innovative and exciting and responsive schooling for all young people.

The 12-month program involves:

  • intensive three and four day workshops to review current and future trends in education policy, explore innovative teaching and learning in the 21st Century and understand personal leadership styles and the complexities of large organisations and team collaboration
  • one-to-one coaching and mentoring sessions
  • a two-week international study tour to New York, USA and Ontario, Canada
  • submission of a reflective research paper focusing on individual leadership capabilities and personal learnings
  • collegial groups, mentors and executive coaches.


2017 program participants reflect on the experience and the benchmarking tour of America and Canada

“I have found the program to be transforming, both at a personal and professional level. So much good, new learning and networking opportunities.”

“While I found the school visits very valuable, as I was both challenged and validated in what I saw, the strongest learnings were the follow up conversations with my colleagues on the tour. We had such a talented and experienced cross section of educators that we all brought different perspectives to our reflections.”

“The most valuable element of the program was the opportunity to reflect on my own practice and with fellow QELi participants from across Australia, in light of the common experience of school visits.”

“The opportunity to view education in very different cultural settings and benchmark observations against what we currently do in our Diocese was invaluable. The opportunity to discuss these reflections immediately with peers from across Australia gave strength to the observations and experiences. The contrast between New York and Ontario added to the ability to be able to analyse what we saw.”