Leading From Within: The Challenges of Middle Leadership in Faith-Based Schools


This course has been designed to give you access to some of the current thinking on the place of spiritual leadership in the role of a middle leader in a faith-based school.

Leaders of NSW Schools today have numerous opportunities for professional learning through organisations such as AIS, ACEL and ACE who offer seminars and conferences. We are also fortunate to have high calibre leaders leading Anglican schools, many with Master of Education qualifications. Many school leaders also access professional learning through universities. Educational leaders are also able to source ongoing and instant professional learning today through social media platforms.

Therefore, our aim in these professional learning courses needs to acknowledge these avenues and utilise them. We assume participants are concurrently experiencing professional learning opportunities provided by their school. They also have access to school-based Anglican reading material such Teaching Well’ and (Collier & Goodlet, 2014) ‘Better Learning’ (Goodlet, Collier and George, 2017). Therefore, our purpose needs to be distinctive, while concurrently building upon these assumed educational opportunities.

Our emphasis is twofold. Firstly, we seek to bring the opportunity for the leaders of Anglican schools to collaborate about purpose and practice as Christian educators. This is distinctive from other possible professional education opportunities. Secondly, we want to provide a platform for research-based thinking about Christian educational leadership. This is our distinctive quality as educational researchers. We wish to draw together the experiences of Anglican school leaders in practice with our theoretical and philosophical research knowledge to the glory of God. We assume that educational leading as a Christian involves personal faith in Jesus. Leading is an expression of faith in action.

We also assume that Christian education is multifaceted in worldview, approach and practice. The very purpose of this platform is not to define Christian education, but to explore its similarities and differences in practice and to learn from and serve each other from our knowledge and experience of schooling and leading in a range of cultures and contexts, in order to build the Kingdom of God and to glorify Jesus Christ.

Therefore, the knowledge and the skills leaders require from these courses include: academic reading, dialogue and reflection time, research-based opportunities, and opportunities to connect research, theology with current issues and problems of practice.


For more information on this course contactmarilyn.cole@edcomm.org.au 


Registered participants can access the Participant Portal below




Course structure and timing

This NESA accredited course requires a commitment of 15 hours of reading, planning and active participation. You need to complete all sections of the course and the on-line assessments to receive the accredited 15 hours.

This includes:

  • pre-reading – 2 hours
  • a collegial day of interactive professional learning with a facilitator – 5 hours
  • three two-hour online modules – 6 hours
  • a collegial colloquium with other participants and a facilitator – 2 hours

It is expected that you will complete these modules within three months of the original course. Course forums will remain on the website for another 2 months. Please notify your course facilitator if you are unable to complete a module in the set time. The timing of the final colloquium will be negotiated by the facilitator with the group.



Please use the self-assessment grid (found at the end of the course) to guide your understanding of expectations for the completion of tasks.

Participants are expected to:

  • complete all readings, including pre-reading. 
  • actively participate in discussion during the face-to-face and on-line sessions.
  • post on the participant forum and respond to a post when directed to do so.
  • submit written exercises.
  • prepare and present a ten-minute presentation that addresses one aspect of your learning journey.
  • self-assess your participation and the fulfilment of learning outcomes as set out in the course and the assessment document.


An applied learning experience of practice:

This small project is based on learning that begins during the collegial day. At the completion of each seminar you will be given time to reflect on your learning and record your thoughts.

You may choose the focus of your presentation from either the work you have explored in Seminar 1 or Seminar 2. You will be asked to choose either an issue or problem of practice that arises for Middle Leaders in your school context where practice is not aligned with the structure and ethos of your faith-based school or a faith based issue or problem of practice. 

Your presentation will be guided by a set of questions but you are encouraged to use your creativity to help all participants to have an enjoyable learning experience from your presentation.


Focus questions

  • How can an understanding of the significance of spiritual leadership and values development inform the practice of leadership for Middle Leaders?
  • How can Middle leaders lead from the middle to challenge embedded practices in their school?
  • How important is the building and maintaining of trust in good leadership at any level?
  • What is the place of vision and values development in the task of a middle leader?
  • How does correctly identifying an issue by looking at the evidence base help a middle leader to strategise solutions?
  • Why is it important to lead by example and be a learner when in leadership?


Learning outcomes

NESA: 6.3.4

Implement professional dialogue within the school or professional learning network that is informed by feedback, analysis of current research and practice to improve the educational outcomes of students.

Explicit course outcomes:

  • To develop a critical understanding of the significance of the school ethos or vision statement in the formation of leadership practices in a faith based school and the relationship of vision to student performance and well-bein
  • To explore what enables and what constrains leadership by Middle Leaders
  • To explore a personal leadership development challenge or school issue in the light of new understandings from the readings
  • To experience the value of collegial discussion around identified issues
  • To share an understanding of an identified professional or leadership practice or a school based issue and together critique possible strategies to address the practice or issue.


Success criteria

  • Participants will be able to articulate how Middle Leaders fit into the ethos of an Anglican School and what enables and constrains their leadership in this position.
  • Participants will be able to articulate a current problem of practice for them as middle leaders and suggest strategies to address this issue.
  • Participants will be able to articulate a contemporary issue they are dealing with (or may have to deal with) that challenges them as spiritual leaders, and suggest strategies for dealing with this issue.
  • Participants will be able to identify an area of professional or leadership practice where they recognise a need for personal growth.
  • Participant will present a leadership challenge and demonstrate how their learning in the module can be applied to addressing this issue. 


Tasks at a glance

Below are the activities you will complete in this unit as well as the readings, discussions and videos.


  • Complete the 3 pre-readings which focus on the aims of faith-based educational leadership.

Collegial day:

Seminar 1:

  • A private written reflection on ‘shadows and light’ in your own spiritual leadership and how schools might implement strategies to facilitate spiritual leadership.

Seminar 2:

  • A private written reflection on an issue currently affecting your school and some suggested strategies to address the issue.

Seminar 3:

  • A private written reflection on a contemporary Christian issue or problem of practice you are (may) facing as a middle leader.

On-line module 1:

  • A private written reflection on one aspect of school you would lead differently.
  • A private written reflection on what professional or leadership practices you need to develop in your spiritual leadership.
  • Post on the student forum and response to a post: What skill or knowledge gap do you feel is most common in middle leaders? How do you feel this can be addressed?

On-line module 2:

  • A private written reflection on an issue you identify in your school that could be improved by consciously building trust in the stakeholders. What strategies might be used to address this issue? What principles did you use to determine your strategies?
  • A sentence completion exercise.
  • 5 Twitter posts and a written submission explaining your posts.

On-line module 3:

  • A written submission that critiques two sources in relation to vision and values development.
  • A private written reflection on how faith–based schools could use these resources in a professional learning situation.

Final colloquium:

  • An applied learning experience of practice.


  • Complete a refection exercise and submit it.
  • Complete a self-evaluation.