Research & Projects Update | October 2020



Following on from the successful launch of the Cardus Education Survey Australia project report launch in late August, interest in the project has continued to grow. One of the most comprehensive research projects of its kind, the report entitled “Australian Schools and the Common Good” was commissioned by a consortium of 6 Christian school associations including CSA and measured the contribution of Australian secondary school graduates to the “common good” of society. The report findings provide a holistic perspective of graduates rather than the common approach of measuring only academic outcomes, economic contributions and career pathways of the individual.

It is now nearly two months since the launch and the report continues to attract interest in a range of updates, communiques, media outlets. A number of national media outlets including the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and the West Australian all ran stories covering aspects of the report and its findings. The Educator also ran a great article on the report here.

The Report has also attracted positive interest from a range of politicians and policy makers including a written response from the Honourable Dan Teehan, Minister for Education; and also from Labor Senator Deborah O’Neil who attended the launch and then requested a follow up meeting.

The Director of the National Evidence Institute, Dr Jenny Donovan, has also requested a meeting to discuss the report and its findings. The National Evidence Institute was a key recommendation of David Gonski’s Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools and curates and collates research to help drive further improvements in Australia’s education system.

Cardus also posted an article regarding the project and the reports are now available for download on the Cardus website. We have also now uploaded the full video presentation of the Launch and all published reports on the CSA website as well as the Cardus Education Survey (CES) Australia Project website. The CES site also contains the slides used by all presenters and the three published report documents.

It was also a privilege to be able to share the report’s findings at the National Leaders Summit (NLS) in each State/ Territory as well as engage in stimulating Q and A’s from leaders across Australia.

A range of short, 6-page articles relating to the 6 report themes are due to be published over the next few months. You may consider using parts of these in your school communications and staff presentations.




The CSA team are finalising an exciting new project in 2021!! Expanding on the ACSI Research Project: Multiple Choice , CSA are launching a comprehensive Australian based study into the profiles, passions, perceptions and priorities of our Christian school families.

The Christian Schools Parents Profile: WHY PARENTS CHOOSE CHRISTIAN EDUCATION will focus on CSA member school parents from a broad representative sample of Christian schools across each State and territory in Australia and will seek to identify, understand and analyse the backgrounds, values, faith commitments, interests and decision-making practices and expectations of parents within a dynamic, rapidly changing Australian socio-cultural milieu. Over the past decade, there have been seismic shifts in the families that enrol students in our Christian schools, and families are coming to our schools with diverse and at times surprising expectations and motivations for choosing Christian schooling options for their children.

The project will explore why and how parents choose Christian schools for their children. Questions pertaining to the survey will include: What do parents’ value, and what are their personal perceptions of different school types? What do Millennial parents look like and are their expectations and reasons for choosing a Christian school different to other generations?  What do they perceive is important regarding a Christian school and what are their levels of satisfaction with academic programs, Christian studies programs, what are the trends that are emerging for school choice for millennial parents? What are the motivations/barriers for parents who choose Christian education? And what are the faith commitments and spirituality of these Millennial parents?

Expressions of interest for ALL CSA member schools to be involved in this study will be sent in the new year. Schools will receive both the final national profiles and reports that will identify findings across the nation as well as a school specific report outlining trends and patterns within a given school community.

Please consider being part of this exciting survey which will provide unprecedented data and baseline comparisons on the demographics, expectations and faith commitments of parents who choose Christian schools across our nation.


Project Resources Released at the National Leaders Summit



CSA has again partnered with Vose to develop a set of materials to assist in the onboarding and professional development of all staff new to Christian schooling. These materials were designed by Dr Brian Harris and Jon Bergmann and focus on the essential elements of working in a Christian School. The resources seek to prepare both the heart and mind for all staff (teaching and non-teaching) entering Christian schools and provide high quality, thoughtful, relevant and engaging video modules and stimulus for induction and on-boarding into Christian schools. The Modules cover the following four themes:  Vision  Culture Faith Practice This is a great resource to not only use with new staff, but also with potential board members, trainee teachers and as a refresher for all staff, who may need to be reminded about the foundational elements of Christian schooling. You can access the Flourish resources here.

Christian Pedagogy: Teaching Redemptively

With the focus in 2020 on pedagogy within the CSA Architecture, CSA and Tabor partnered together on the development of an exciting new resource: Christian Pedagogy: Teaching Redemptively – A Field Guide for Principals and Leaders (PeRL).  Dr Tracey Price, Dean of Education and Director of Scholarship at Tabor oversaw this project and both the resource and the field guide align with other key CSA resource documentation and are a useful and stimulating reference guide for teachers to use in Christian schools.

The resource looks at the areas of connection, inclusion, justice and voice. It is the next level of Christian teaching following on from: Christian staff teaching out of who they are, the curation of content and biblical overlays, as well as the adoption of a biblical worldview.  You can access the PeRL resources here.

GBS 2.0: Sustainability – Cross-Curriculum Priority

In conjunction with Christian Heritage College (CHC), a GBS (2.0) companion document which showcases the Cross-Curriculum Priority of sustainability from a Biblical Worldview has been launched. GBS 2.0: Sustainability – Cross-Curriculum Priority (CCP), is the second of the God’s Big Story (CCPs) approach, following on from the ATSI CCP. This new document assists teachers in addressing Australian Curriculum components for sustainability while ensuring a biblical worldview.

The Sustainability priority provides the opportunity for students to develop an appreciation of the necessity of acting responsibly for a more sustainable future.



A final reminder that the team at PeopleBench will be sharing the findings of their pilot project with 12 CSA member schools at the Christian Schools National Business Conference which will be held over two days, Wednesday and Thursday, 28 & 29 October. The event is open to all Business, Finance, IT, HR and administrators in schools. You can register for the event here.

The CSA Schools Workforce Research Project represents a first step into the domains of workforce analytics and systematic resilience-building for many of the participating schools.

Twelve (12) Christian Schools Australia (CSA) member schools participated in an exploratory study conducted by PeopleBench which aimed to investigate the characteristics of K-12 school workforces, including levels of staff resilience, and their potential connection to student outcomes.

The insights revealed to member schools in their individual reports will assist schools to contemporize their practices and become more data informed and strategic in their approach to workforce planning. The reports make some suggestions to help member schools to significantly improve their capacity to monitor and report on key workforce risks and issues associated with good school governance and risk management.

The full Christian Sector Report, that will be available to all members, has produced some insights for CSA as an Association to continue to reflect on ways in which it might support its member schools to build better workforces. 

The next PeopleBench initiative that will be available to member schools before the end of the year is the Resilience Dashboard and accompanying wellbeing resources. 

PeopleBench will provide more information on this project at the Business Leaders launch and we will also forward this information to all CSA member schools.




Analysis and write ups are now occurring across a range of CSA member schools who registered for the pilot implementation of the Flourishing Schools Culture Model (FSCM) and the Flourishing Schools Culture Survey instrument (FSCI) in Australia.

Validated by research, the Flourishing School Culture Model provides culture-level insight to Christian schools on how their students, educators, and school communities flourish in the domains of Purpose, Relationships, Learning Orientation, Expertise & Resources, and Well-Being. Over the past year, ACSI has partnered with 65 North American member schools to collect and leverage data relating to how and why Christian schools flourish. The validated constructs identified through rigorous data analysis were mapped onto the first ever research-based model of Christian school flourishing—the Flourishing School Culture Model (FSCM). In total, the Flourishing Schools Culture Instrument (FSCI) tested 1,445 discrete variables across seven different survey groups: students; parents; alumni; teachers; leaders/administrators; support staff; and board members.

More information about the project, including the Final ACSI Report can be accessed on the ASCI website.

It is also hoped that once the Australia pilot study has been completed a more comprehensive and larger scale engagement with member schools will occur at a discounted rate. We are also anticipating an integrated link between tis survey instrument and We will keep you informed of these developments.


CSA Horizons Podcast Series

I would strongly encourage you to listen to the CSA Horizons Podcast series. This podcast series offers to help shape and sharpen your thinking around the important value propositions that underpin CSA’s strategic focus and will stimulate and inspire you as you serve and lead in your Christian school communities. All 12 of the CSA podcasts are excellent and thought provoking. The following are three conversations I hosted with Dr Lynn Swaner, Dr Beth Green, and Dr Deani van Pelt:

Episode 8: Dr Darren Iselin with Dr Beth Green l Episode Summary: Measuring What We Value

On this episode of ‘Horizon 2020’ Darren Iselin talks with Dr Beth Green, who is currently Provost and Chief Academic Officer of Tyndale University, Fellow of the Royal Society and a Senior Fellow and former Director of Education at Cardus, a faith-based think tank in Canada.

The importance of evidence in a quality improvement school agenda underscores why it is so important to measure what we value in the current educational climate. Landmark studies including the Cardus Education Survey seek to provide a holistic and comprehensive tool for measuring graduate outcomes and provide a mirror for schools to gather meaningful data on their programs and practice.  Beth will explore how such surveys can be powerfully used to improve our Christian school communities and also highlights other exciting new projects and initiatives that seek to measure faith formation and development within our Christian schools. Beth’s wisdom, experience and intellect will inspire our thinking regarding research and gathering data on the things that matter most to our Christian school communities.



Episode 12: Dr Darren Iselin with Dr Lynn Swaner | A New Agenda for Christian Schooling 

On this episode of ‘Horizon 2020’ Darren Iselin talks with Dr Lynn Swaner. Lynn is the Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at ACSI in the United States, where she leads initiatives and develops strategies to address compelling questions and challenges facing Christian education. Dr. Swaner serves as a Cardus Senior Fellow and is the lead editor of the books MindShift: Catalyzing Change in Christian Education and PIVOT: New Directions for Christian Education.

Christian schools are constantly required to provide evidentiary data on a wide range of measures and metrics for regulation and reporting. But do we gather evidence on whether our schools are flourishing in ways that align with our core values and beliefs and whether our school cultures are distinctively Christian? Lynn will explore the importance of gathering these data for Christian school leaders and will showcase how such evidence can be used to drive a quality improvement agenda within Christian schooling. Lynn will also discuss a groundbreaking new flourishing schools culture model and survey instrument which will be of great benefit to Christian school leaders.



Episode 13: Dr Darren Iselin with Dr Deani van Pelt | Episode Summary: New Horizons in Cristian Education

On this episode of ‘Horizon 2020’ Darren Iselin talks with Dr Deani Van Pelt, who is President of Edvance, a Christian Schools association in Canada and senior fellow at two think tanks, Cardus and the Fraser Institute. Deani has researched, presented, and published frequently on topics including school choice, school funding and school sector enrolments and her work has been regularly featured in mainstream Canadian print and broadcast media.

Christian education around the world is entering an exciting new phase of maturation, growth and development. With this maturation comes exciting new possibilities in regards to evidencing graduate outcomes, best practice, student leaning and celebrating the transformative impact that our schools provide. Deani will explore how such opportunities afford new ways of working more intentionally and collaboratively together through networking which lead to rich and important conversations that can enhance and expand the impact and influence of our schools within the wider community. Deani will stimulate your thinking regarding these exciting new horizons that can bring great hope and encouragement to the cause of Christian education.



Promotions from our Tertiary Partners 


Interested in becoming a teacher? The Teaching School Alliance program is a great opportunity to do just that! Be guided by experts at Alphacrucis and placed in leading Christian schools across Sydney. Find out more at Virtual Information Session on 5-6pm Friday Oct 23. RSVP.