Creating a Culture of Caring in the Self-Transforming School
Brian J. Caldwell is Managing Director and Principal Consultant at Educational Transformations and Professor Emeritus and Honorary Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne where he served as Dean of Education from 1998 to 2004. He was appointed Deputy Chair, Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) in July 2014. This paper was addressed in an invited concluding keynote presentation at the AHISA Senior Staff & Pastoral Care Conference of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA), Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast QLD on 25 August 2014
I was delighted to be invited to present the concluding keynote address to this important conference. It is an important conference because all of society’s aspirations for schools depend on the strength and alignment in practice of the three key words in the conference theme – leading, learning and caring. I accepted without hesitation because preparing and presenting this paper is an opportunity, actually a challenge, to test my view that a school can be self-transforming and that it can only be self-transforming if caring lies at the heart of the endeavour.
I will draw on themes in my recent co-authored books The Self-Transforming School (Caldwell and Spinks 2013) and its predecessor Transforming Education through the Arts (Caldwell and Vaughan 2012), along with accounts of successful policy and practice around the world.
I define transformation as significant, systematic and sustained change that secures success for all students in all settings. A self-transforming school achieves or is well on its way to achieving significant, systematic and sustained change that secures success for all of its students regardless of the setting. Success refers to the capacity of a school to ensure that the needs, interests, aptitudes, aspirations and passions of all of its students are addressed. Among all sectors, independent schools should have a capacity to be self-transforming.
The concept of self-transformation is helpful in describing a caring culture in a school. A school is a caring school if it has the capacity and uses that capacity to successfully address the needs, interests, aspirations and passions of all of its students, regardless of the setting of that school.
Coming at the end of the conference, the organisers encouraged me to ‘bring the themes together’, so it is a thematic presentation rather than one that focuses on particular processes and strategies. You, the participants, have described and illustrated the processes and the strategies. Frankly, I have never seen a conference program that addresses so richly the concept of caring. One could write a book on caring based on what you have contributed to this conference. I hope one or more of you take on the task.