Extended Written Response: Within the context of Australian Catholic schools, explore the history of the development of classroom religious education in the Australian social, ecclesial, historical and cultural contexts


The catholic schools have as their particular commission and role the Christian establishment of their students within a society of the faith. The schools consist of a key place, and the subject tutored allow the acquire skills, intellectual concepts, knowledge, morals and social culture. The catholic schools have been a core component of Australian education for more than 175years. In the current era with the dynamic nature of the society, the catholic continually evolves to withstand the education quality and public pressure.  Catholic schools strive to continue satisfying the demands of the Australian citizens by confronting the core national problems, for instance reconciliation and need for higher social equality, justice and equity. Traditionally, the Catholic schools came into existence as single gender schools (Ryan, 2007). What make catholic schools, outstanding from other public schools is the fact that the major on the advancement of the students as followers of the catholic faith. The system requires pupils, leaders and instructors to major on four important rules enacted by the church and schools (Strhan, 2010). This includes the catholic recognition of the school, education respect to life and faith, commemoration of life and faith, and operation and social justice.

The history of the existence of the catholic education in Australia

In the history of the globe, the Catholic Church has been involved with the development of school; lifestyle and well-being together with dispersing the gospel (Ryan, 2007).The Catholic Church’s involvement in the early settlement of the people of Australia could not be avoided. The initial catholic schools, being submissive, began in the 1830sin Sydney town and they operated using the unqualified personnel. The initial catholic learning institutions in Victoria originated from the Melbourne in 1840 under Father Patrick Geoghagan and equally operated by involving unqualified individuals. Queensland trailed thereafter with the initial catholic education developed towards the end 1850s and 1860s. Four schools were already established in the Queensland, but with no religious sister by 1860. By 1878, 33 schools and 130 religious sisters were already established.

The schools aimed at challenging pupils to appreciate God, therefore understanding the values of life. This enabled the students to understand the intrinsic meaning or worth of themselves. The schools utilized the students’ ability as a base of creating a synthesis of faith and norms by advocating for high quality academic and mission education for all their pupils (Alexander & Agbaria, 2012). Furthermore, catholic schools provide favorable environment that enhances faith development through prayers and commemorate the Eucharist in the society.The schools emphasized on the individual and community improvement as core enduring values and needs in the dynamic world. They ensure this by taking an international view on the human improvement based on working together, but not competing through activities involving the society services and matters of social justice. Catholic schools in Australia persist to react to, and provide service to the demands of the parents who seek a catholic learning for their children. The catholic schools played an intentional and vital role in the Australian community by building the Christ’s Kingdom.

The Dynamic Context of the Catholic School in Australia

Catholic schools in Australia function in the dynamic political and social context which decides both the way they operate and structured, and their education priorities. Education Act of the 1870s and 1890s made education in Australia, free, secular and mandatory to every child. Before, the state administration offered help to the catholic schools, however, their entire support stopped on initiation of the law. Currently, catholic schools are particularly faced with a number of issues originating from Australia’s changing place in the globe and its fight for self-recognition, in addition to the theological issues and changes of the post-Vatican II Church. In this swift dynamic environment, the catholic school offers a potential source of solidity and inspiration.

Catholic schools seek to donate to the development of an Australian society that is more learned, skilled and endowed with the ability to advocate and accept critical analysis of social matters, the development of knowledge and the pursuit of justice and truth.  Catholic schools dwell on the contribution of the education to the common advantage of the entire society of Australia (Strhan, 2010).To accommodate the new developments, devoted men and women clergymen moved to Australia from Europe reinforced by community missions plus the development of current succession for example Josephites, the sound Samaritan.  United, they divided the duty offering catholic training in Australia with ease. The devoted successions assisted by educators have created a massive benefit to the Australian education system for more than 150 years. Australia state gained significantly as a result of the enormous impact of Christianity moving from the Catholic education sector. Despite the tireless attempt by the Catholic Church leaders in Australia bids in the late 19th for state support for catholic education failed. The development of the catholic dissatisfaction at due lacks of support saw the development of the Catholic Federation in 1911 to register political pressure.

Australian society became more unbiased of the catholic schools following the world wars. In the late 1950s and 1960s, the enrolment in the catholic schools increased rapidly because of the post-fight bay increase and vital migration of immigrants to Australia.  Missions to the devoted succession went down and the state administration has not still provided financial assistance to the catholic schools except for the minor support of the award scholarship plan in the Queensland. Nevertheless, the upgraded society positive perspective, Parents and Support Association developed to make allies and influence people, hence developing the goodwill.

Purpose of the catholic schools in Australia

Quality Christian education enhances the church commission of proclaiming the gospel of the Jesus Christ, which demands for constant self-evaluation and renewal to allow for a well-defined identity for the school (Chater, 2014). Working together among the parents, learners and instructors are necessary for enhancing faithfulness to the school’s commission. More importantly, the Catholic schools have provided the catholic community and the entire people of Australia an educational base for life to the fullness, implying the spiritual, intellectual, spiritual, physical, moral and emotional growth and development. Catholic schools fulfill parents’ freedoms and rights in a democratic way, free community to select the schooling for their children that reflects the values, doctrines, cultures and hopes of Australia. The catholic schools have succeeded in the generation developments that have significantly added to the development of the Australian society.

Contribution of the catholic schools in Australia

The catholic schools have made the following contributions in Australia:-

  1. Providing holistic education to the Australians youths that ensure they are highly knowledgeable and skilled, open-minded, informed, tolerant and just.
  2. Providing a voice which dares the present and future generations to reflect on their world in the light of the good news of Jesus Christ
  3. Stressing the on the normal good, the improvement of Australia and the development and enhancement of a morally just Australian community that is built on faith.
  4. Promoting a prospect that goes beyond the national boarder of Australia by motivating or inspiring the learners to be open minded on concurrent issues as a foundation for becoming responsible Australian citizens.
  5. Providing a platform that unite the spatiality the indigenous citizens of Australia and the variety of the spiritual cultures of the various inhabitant communities since 1788, as a way for appreciating the diversity and promoting social justice in Australia.
  6. Promoting and providing a basis for the learners to seek to create the relationship with God and to continue their journey of faith throughout their living in the world.

Distinctive Features of the Catholic Schools

The following are the features that distinct catholic school from other public schools.

  1. Catholic schools enhance a specific idea of the person, society, nation and the entire world based on the individual and the gospel of Jesus Christ
  2. Catholic schools prompt the learners to understand the meaning and values of life through understanding God.
  3. They create an integral body of the church community through which the entire generations live, worship and grow in unity and harmony.
  4. The schools Critique the Australians cultures, traditions and beliefs and promoting the society values, as an integrated body of the gospel commission.
  5. The schools inspire pupils to create an international understanding of the mother country and how the country can realize and respond justly to the international duties.
  6. The schools prioritize on educating and financially supporting the poor and the disadvantaged in the society

Contemporary Approaches of Catholic Schools Religious Education

The four important contexts with major impact on the contemporary Catholic and ecumenical schools and Religious Education in Australia includes:-

  1. The Societal Approach
  2. Ecclesial Approach
  3. Educational Approach
  4. Digital Approach

Each of the content offers opportunities and provocation to schools as they always struggle to convey high standard Religious Education to the faithful.

Societal Approach

The Catholic schools in Australia specifically in Archdiocese of Brisbane function in a complicated and dynamic environment. Modern students are submerged into the global world and ancient time; they get exposure to a wide variety of gain obtained through various media (Chater, 2014). The majority of the students are aware of the multiple cultures, doctrines, norms, traditions, morals, practices and belief structure of the world. The Archdiocesan schools train the student wider Australian culture that promotes acceptance and offers a legitimate defense for, scope of religious norms and cultures. Although the benefit of religious in designating social shortcoming and enhancing social safety among Australians is notable and accepted, uncertainty still exist among a number of the Australians and sometimes, the unconcerned to, the applications of beliefs, norms and cultures of their in the day today lives.

Ecclesial Approach

The experience of a number of teachers and schools managers on the religious issues deemed important to the students and the families. The study further reveals that an alarming number of students plus their families engage less with the formal church life than in the past and subsequently, for a number of learners, the norms, language and beliefs remains underdeveloped (Gleeson & O’Flaherty, 2016). Consequently, Religious Education in the Archdiocese of Australia attempt to find to enhance knowledge, intense understanding and skills about the catholic and wider Christian cultures within the he wider redeeming commission of the church.

Educational approach

Every school of Archdiocesan School attempt to find conversion of the entire individual so that to empower those in society to adopt the Christians doctrines about Jesus Christ in their day today lives. In the catholic historical convections, education constitutes work for love and service. Schools seek to promote and spread the faith of persons in a manner sensible of the ethnic and religious acceptance. Learning and teaching essentially takes place in the schools. Individually and mutually, the catholic together with the ecumenical schools of the Australian Archdiocese opt to instruct all to imitate the life of Jesus Christ by shaping and empowering the world with the Christian teachings (Prestige, 2012). The range of education expanded and become progressively complicated.

Digital Approach

The swift growth in the development and application of technology continues to bump significantly on schools. A great number of students with knowledge in the operation of electronic and digital resources continue to use mobile phones as their preferred means of transmission of information. This enables them to capture the current ways of belonging and to ingress to the worldwide ideas and information at their fingertips. The definition of the word community now includes a physical sense of society and relations between people in digital.  These technologies in the way of the community accesses and interacts with information and web created new types of language and dialects with the associated tribes and sub-tribes, cultures and rituals (Liberia, 2012).The digital platform gives opportunities and provocations to school societies as they invent new methods of enhancing the religious advancement and spiritual creation of students acknowledged by Pope Benedict XVI.

Church Documents on the Religious Education

  1. TheCatechism of the Catholic Church

Pope John II endorsed the Catechism of the Catholic Church commonly referred to as catechism for the use of the Catholic Church in 1992 (Liberia, 2012) and it is summarized in a book form, commonly known as the beliefs of the Catholic faithful. A catechism is a book that describes the Christians’ beliefs on religion by use of a list of questions and answers. Documents on religious education existed since the origin of Christianity. The catechism is subdivided into four major parts that include:-


  1. The Apostle’s Creed (The Profession of Faith)
  2. The sacred liturgy (the celebration of the Christian mystery normally the sacrament)
  3. Life in Christ with the inclusion of the ten commandments
  4. Christian prayers that included the lord’s prayers
  5. General Directory for Catechesis

The General Directory for Catechesis is a document from Roman Vatican that originated from the Congregation of the Catholic clergy and that directs the ministry of the church of the formation of the faith. The second book published succeeded the 1971 General Catechetical Directory in 1997.Through national and conferences of the bishops in their parishes, dioceses, and ministries, guidance was derived from giving direction to the formation of the believers from the ample work.

  1. General Catechetical Directory in 1997

This General Catechetical Directory came into existence as a result of the agreement with the order in the Decree on the Bishops’ Pastoral Office in the Church. Directory mainly provided the common principles and concepts of the pastoral theology whereby the pastoral decisions in the church of the word could be more fittingly controlled and governed.


In conclusion, quality Christian education enhances the church commission of proclaiming the gospel of the Jesus Christ, which demands for constant self-evaluation and renewal to allow for a well-defined identity for the school. Besides, these schools strive to continue satisfying the demands of the Australian citizens by confronting the core national problems, for instance reconciliation and need for higher social equality, justice and equity. Catholic schools in Australia function in the dynamic political and social context which decides both the way they operate and structured, and their education priorities. Education Act of the 1870s and 1890s made education in Australia, free, secular and mandatory to every child.








Alexander, H. A., &Agbaria, A. K. (2012). Commitment, character, and citizenship: Religious education in a liberal democracy (Vol. 73).

Chater, M. (2014). The fire next time? A critical discussion of the National Curriculum Framework for RE and the policy recommendations in the Review of Religious Education in England. British Journal of Religious Education36(3), 256-264.

Gleeson, J. and O’Flaherty, J., 2016. The teacher as moral educator: comparative study of

secondary    teachers in Catholic schools in Australia and Ireland. Teaching and Teacher Education55, pp.45-56.

Libreria, E., V. (2012). Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition. Spring Reading

Prestridge, S., 2012. The beliefs behind the teacher that influences their ICT practices. Computers & education58(1), pp.449-458.

Ryan, M. J. (2007). A common search: The history and forms of religious education in Catholic

schools. Lumino Press.

Strhan, A. (2010). A religious education otherwise? An examination and proposed interruption of current British practice. Journal of the philosophy of education44(1), 23-44.






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