Religious Education Reconceptualizing the Role of the Director of Religious Studies: A New Zealand Perspective

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Religious Education Reconceptualizing the Role of the Director of Religious Studies: A New Zealand Perspective
  Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at Download by:  [Lyn Smith] Date:  16 June 2016, At: 20:52 Religious Education The official journal of the Religious Education Association ISSN: 0034-4087 (Print) 1547-3201 (Online) Journal homepage: Reconceptualizing the Role of the Director of Religious Studies: A New Zealand Perspective Lyn Marie Smith & Theo van der Nest To cite this article:  Lyn Marie Smith & Theo van der Nest (2016) Reconceptualizing the Roleof the Director of Religious Studies: A New Zealand Perspective, Religious Education, 111:3,307-324, DOI: 10.1080/00344087.2016.1169881 To link to this article: Published online: 16 Jun 2016.Submit your article to this journal View related articles View Crossmark data  RECONCEPTUALIZING THE ROLE OF THE DIRECTOROF RELIGIOUS STUDIES: A NEW ZEALANDPERSPECTIVE Lyn Marie Smith The Catholic Institute of Aotearoa New Zealand, Ponsonby, Auckland, New Zealand Theo van der Nest St John’s College, Hillcrest, Hamilton, New Zealand  Abstract The Private Schools Conditional Integration Act (PSCI Act) of 1975in New Zealand reinvigorated a Catholic education system, on the vergeoffinancialcollapse.ThisenactedlegislationrequiredCatholicauthorities to develop and maintain the  Special Character   of theschool. Financial or State aid is dependent on each school’s ability to do this. The PSCI Act (1975) established the position of Direc-tor of Religious Studies (DRS) with a key responsibility to ensurethe structural transmission of Special Character. After 40 years thechallenges and demands on DRSs to transmit Special Charactermean their position needs to be reconceptualized for contemporary leadership. The role of the Director of Religious Studies (DRS) in Catholic sec-ondary schools in Aotearoa New Zealand is a key leadership position within the Catholic school (New Zealand Catholic Bishops Confer-ence [NZCBC] 2014). This article will provide an overview with re-gard to the ongoing changes experienced by DRSs in the service of Catholiceducationasthesecondlargestsecondaryeducationproviderin Aotearoa New Zealand. The establishment of this leadership posi-tion was a result of the passing of the Aotearoa New Zealand PrivateSchools Conditional Integration (PSCI) Act of 1975 (New ZealandLegal Information Institute 2010c), which allowed for the integrationof privately owned Church schools with the State system. This was tosecure financial State-aid and was instrumental in saving Catholicschools from what was considered an imminent financial collapse Religious Education Copyright  C   The Religious Education Association Vol. 111 No. 3 May–June ISSN: 0034-4087 print / 1547-3201 onlineDOI: 10.1080/00344087.2016.1169881 307    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   L  y  n   S  m   i   t   h   ]  a   t   2   0  :   5   2   1   6   J  u  n  e   2   0   1   6  308 RECONCEPTUALIZING THE ROLE OF THE DRS (Snook 2011). A significant aspect of this article is to encourage andprovide impetus for further research-based evidence pertaining tothe extent to which the role of the DRS aids the Catholic secondary school in fulfilling the Special Character requirements of the PSCIAct (1975).The legislative provisions of the PSCI Act (1975) ensured thecontinued existence of Catholic schools but required these schools todevelop and maintain the Special Character of the Catholic schools(NZCBC 2014). Although the PSCI Act (1975) did not specifically define Special Character, it did imply that education with a  Spe-cial Character   could be considered as the provision of education within the framework of a general religious or philosophical belief (New Zealand Legal Information Institute 2010c; see also Wanden2009).The position of DRS was established in Catholic schools to main-tain and develop all aspects pertaining to the notion of Special Char-acter and became part of the normal staff establishment of integratedschools (New Zealand Legal Information Institute 2010c; NZCBC2014). As a result, DRSs are expected to provide leadership in theplanning of liturgies, masses, Church celebrations, and the imple-mentation of religious education, social justice, and Special Characterstaff formation programs (Snook 2011). The DRS role, however, hasover time increasingly been perceived as becoming more complex(O’Donnell 1999; Wanden 2009).There is very little documented research that pertains to how theCatholic schools and DRSs maintain their Special Charactergiven thestatutory obligations of the PSCI Act of 1975 and its Special Char-acter clause. This means that research on the Special Character of Catholic schools in Aotearoa New Zealand, and more specifically theleadership role of the DRS in fostering this, is crucial and warrantsfurther investigation. This article will discuss how the demands on theleadership role of DRS have changed against the backdrop of changesin Aotearoa New Zealand society and its religious observances. Inorder to underscore the need to reconceptualize this significant lead-ership role, this article will provide a brief historical overview of thedevelopment of Catholic education in Aotearoa New Zealand; con-sidering the structural implications in Catholic schools introducedby the PSCI Act (1975); exploring the duties and responsibilities as-sociated with the role of the DRS and considering the challengescontemporary DRSs confront in their roles against the backdrop of changes in society and the neo-liberal reforms in education initiated    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   L  y  n   S  m   i   t   h   ]  a   t   2   0  :   5   2   1   6   J  u  n  e   2   0   1   6   LYN MARIE SMITH AND THEO VAN DER NEST   309 by the 1989  Education Act  (New Zealand Legal Information Institute2010b).  A HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF CATHOLIC EDUCATIONIN NEW ZEALAND Three major Acts of Parliament have influenced the direction of Catholic education in New Zealand since the introduction of consti-tutional governance in New Zealand in the mid-1850s (O’Meaghan2003). First, the  Education Act  of 1877 that removed financial sup-port from Catholic and other religious schools (New Zealand LegalInformationInstitute2010a).Second,thePrivateSchoolsConditionalIntegration Act (PSCI) of 1975, which restored financial support toCatholicandotherreligiousschools.Third,the EducationAct of1989, which established self-governance of schools through locally electedBoards of Trustees (BOTs) and initiated the neo-liberal agenda ineducation (New Zealand Legal Information Institute 2010b; Gordon2006; O’Sullivan and Piper 2005; Pearce and Gordon 2005; van derNest and Buchanan 2014). The influence of each of these Acts in thedevelopment of Catholic education and their impact on the role of DRSs and their ability to maintain the Catholic ethos of their respec-tive schools will now be further explored. The  Education Act  of 1877  The  Education Act  (1877) halted financial support to churchschools as it provided for a system of free, compulsory, and secularstate elementary schools (New Zealand Legal Information Institute.2010a; Neven and Thompson 2011; Petersen 1992; Williams 2000).The Catholic Church now had to take full responsibility for Catholiceducation and become self-sufficient to ensure the survival of herschools (NZCBC 2014). The withdrawal of finances meant staff wagescould not be paid and many lay teachers left Catholic schools. Thisresulted in Catholic schools becoming increasingly staffed by mem-bersofReligiousCongregations(NZCBC2014;NevenandThompson2011;O’Brien,Tuck,andWalker2006).The EducationAct (1877)andPope Pius IX’s (1846–1878) earlier  Syllabus of Errors  (1864), whichcautioned Catholics against State education (Ryan 1997), would con-sequently ensure that the Church would have the sole responsibility     D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   L  y  n   S  m   i   t   h   ]  a   t   2   0  :   5   2   1   6   J  u  n  e   2   0   1   6  310 RECONCEPTUALIZING THE ROLE OF THE DRS for funding Catholic education for the next hundred years in New Zealand (O’Sullivan 2005). The Private Schools Conditional Integration (PSCI) Act of 1975 Catholic schools survived between the  Education Act  (1877) untilthe 1960s by depending on the unpaid labor of members of Reli-gious Congregations (NZCBC 2014; Collins 2005). Throughout thelate 1960s and early 1970s Catholic schools continued to provideeducation to 9.7% of the total school population of Aotearoa New Zealand (Spencer 2005). By the early 1970s, modern Catholic schoolscould not be sustained through the financial support of the CatholicChurch alone (NZCEO 2002b). In terms of the private school stu-dent population, Catholic schools were educating 85.6% of studentsattending such schools (Spencer 2005). Given this significant serviceto the Aotearoa New Zealand community and the high probability of afinancial collapse of the Catholic education system in the early 1970s,the government reviewed its position regarding State-aid to Catholicschools and this led to the passing of the PSCI Act (1975). The PSCIAct (1975) covered all schools that were not state owned but requiredState funding in Aotearoa New Zealand.The PSCI Act (1975) allowed Catholic schools, owned by theirBishops and/or Religious Congregations, as proprietors, to continueto “preserve” and “safeguard” the Catholic school’s Special Char-acter while also protecting them from the financial difficulties thatthreatened their existence (Birch and Wanden 2007; O’Donnell 2000;Sweetman 2002; van der Nest and Buchanan 2014; Wanden 2009).In terms of Aotearoa New Zealand Catholic education, Special Char-acter thus became the guarantee clause that ensured education in aCatholic faith-based context (New Zealand Legal Information Insti-tute 2010c) where the values of Jesus Christ could be taught and lived(NZCEO 2013). The first school integrated in 1979 and in due course,allCatholicschoolswereintegrated(Snook2011).Integrationensuredthat Catholic schools received the same funding as state schools, in-cluding staff salaries and yearly operating grants, while also allowingthemthecapacitytodeveloptheirownstudentselectionpolicy(Cross2008). However, the sole reason for the existence of Catholic schoolsin Aotearoa New Zealand, even under the Integration Act, remainedtheir relationship with the Church (NZCBC 2014). The acceptance of StatesupportwasconditionalonthelegalsafeguardingoftheCatholic    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   L  y  n   S  m   i   t   h   ]  a   t   2   0  :   5   2   1   6   J  u  n  e   2   0   1   6
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