Writing on the spirit: An exploration of the role of senior leadership teams in enhancing the mission integrity of selected Catholic schools in the Mercy tradition


Egberts, Darren J.. (2010). Writing on the spirit: An exploration of the role of senior leadership teams in enhancing the mission integrity of selected Catholic schools in the Mercy tradition [Thesis]. https://doi.org/10.4226/66/5a960417c6833
AuthorsEgberts, Darren J.
Qualification nameDoctor of Education (EdD)

In the twenty-first century, many schools and educational systems are embracing a new paradigm of educational leadership that utilises collaboration and/or leadership teams. Reflecting this movement, this research explored the capacity of senior leadership teams (SLTs) to enhance the mission integrity (Grace, 2002a, p. 19; 2002b) of selected Catholic schools in the Mercy tradition. The context for this study was two Victorian Mercy secondary colleges. The research examined the experience of shared leadership for members of SLTs in the selected Catholic schools, the contribution of shared leadership to the overall leadership of the schools, the principles on which this shared leadership was exercised within Catholic schools in the Mercy tradition and the opportunities that exist for SLTs to enhance the mission integrity of their school. The data collection included a series of semi-structured interviews with members of the schools' SLTs, the examination of foundational school and systemic documents, interviews and correspondence with critical friends - current and former principals and the use of a Research Journal. The data from the interviews was transcribed manually and, together with the document analysis and research journal, was analysed in three stages using the four Research Questions as guides. Data analysis occurred in three stages: data reduction, data display and conclusion drawing and verification (Miles & Huberman, 1994). The research highlighted a number of the strengths that SLTs have brought to their schools including teamwork and synergies, and the opportunity to build leadership capacity. It also highlighted the important responsibilities of the principal within the SLT in setting direction and exerting influence for the team and the school as a whole.;The research underlined the passion and commitment SLT members have for Catholic education, the principles on which this passion is based and, particularly, the importance of educating for full human personhood. SLT members affirmed the opportunities that Duignan's framework for shared leadership in Catholic schools (Duignan, 2008) offered as a template for articulating the fundamental principles underlying Catholic education. The research also investigated the specific lens that the Mercy charism brought to the leadership of each school. The research also examined a number of challenges to, and opportunities for, the enhancement of mission integrity nominated by SLT members in the selected schools. These challenges included demonstrating leadership in Catholic schools, achieving academic excellence, building teaching and leadership capacity and the need to nurture a culture of hospitality in Catholic schools in the Mercy tradition. As a result of this research, a number of recommendations and opportunities for further research are offered to Catholic schools and their SLTs, the systemic authorities responsible for Catholic schools and for those responsible specifically for Mercy education.

PublisherAustralian Catholic University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.4226/66/5a960417c6833
Research GroupSchool of Educational Leadership
Final version
Publication dates01 Jul 2010
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