What leading thoughts might ACS school leaders ponder for 2023?
Written by: Pastor Ron Woolley October 2022
Disruption from the flow-on effects of the pandemic continues to exact its toll on school communities and human
Like almost all areas of community life, schools have been impacted in ways that may not mean a return to how things
Increased concern for the holistic wellbeing of staff, students and their families seems now to be an embedded
feature of all centres of learning.
ACS suggests the following five leading thoughts to school leaders to ponder for 2023 as thoughts that matter and
may be paramount.
1. Attention to focus
In a world suffering many different societal forces, it is easy to become diverted by these and not pay proper
attention to a school’s prime directive – teaching and learning. Schools are living, learning communities, and are
at their best when they do not lose sight of their prime directive. It is not always easy to stay on task when
concerned about a whole raft of other matters. Clear-headed thinking within school communities places teaching
and learning front and centre, not other matters no matter how important they may be societally.
2. Attention to wellbeing
Wellbeing might best be considered in this context: developing meaningful networks of healthy relationships. In
schools, this might primarily be between a teacher and students of their classes, but it includes other students,
teachers and parents as well. School communities are places of complexity where the wellbeing of the one
contributes to the flourishing of all. A good school community is one where individuals looks out for the best
interests of others, and the more alert we are to individuals the better our collective health will be.
3. Attention to academics
A good school pays great attention to students’ academic progress, no matter how academically gifted or
otherwise those students are. Learning is the prime activity of all centres of learning. Deep community concern
exists where the widening gap between those who need further challenge and those who need further help is
observed. A good school community is one where this gap is minimised and students are challenged, but also
supported. Support needs to be shared by all, so that the workload that accompanies differentiation is spread as
evenly as practicable across all staff members.
4. Attention to pathways
Students are gifted differently, something that begins to be evident quite early in life. That said, a good school
will note differences and enable all their students to find pathways through their schooling life that develop their
gifts meaningfully, and helps them further discover what really interests them. Staff are likewise gifted
differently, and attention to their career pathways and professional development is important, with the teaching
and ancillary professions increasingly suffering intake and resignation problems. Teachers and ancillary staff need
encouragement in their demanding task, just as students do.
5. Attention to values
The broader workforce consists of those whose personal or corporate values are not necessarily all the same.
However, there are some virtues that are perpetually in demand. Schools provide the context where these may
be nurtured, though the prime source where they are nurtured, according to Scripture, is actually the home
(family) and the church. Christian educators historically emphasised seven virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude,
and temperance (the cardinal virtues), and faith, hope, and love (the theological virtues). There are many
variations and interpretations of these, but if learned and practiced, attending to developing the virtues will
prepare students for both a meaningful life, and work – ie for human flourishing.