Career Planning



Teaching as a Profession

This is to support those in the teaching profession to discern and plan for a challenging and fulfilling career. A sense of direction and goals is important for ongoing job satisfaction and teachers are encouraged to be proactive in the planning of their individual career path direction.

 A Career in a Catholic School

Catholic schools are an important part of the Catholic Church’s mission; they seek to be schools of first choice for Catholic parents. Dignity and respect for each student form the basis of teaching and learning in Catholic schools, with the values of the Gospel integral to the faith development activities and religious education programs. 


Catholic schools:

  • Practise and celebrate Christian values
  • Provide religious education and opportunities for faith development in communities where prayer and sacramental celebrations are integral
  • Include highly qualified teachers committed to the ethos of Catholic education.

It is vital for the effectiveness of the Catholic school community that all members understand the distinctive purpose and mission of Catholic schools. Principals and teachers need therefore to be accredited to teach in a Catholic school. In pursuing accreditation to teach in a Catholic school, staff will develop a deeper understanding not only of the nature of the school as part of the Church’s mission but also of their roles as members of staff.

Teachers of Religious Education are further required to have Accreditation to Teach Religious Education in a Catholic School. It is essential that religious educators have an appropriate and adequate knowledge of Catholic faith, tradition and practice in order to competently teach religious education using the mandated texts and to contribute to students’ growth in faith. 

Planning and documenting Your Career

Following are checklists and reflections that may be useful in discerning and enhancing a teachers’ career path. It may be useful to re-energise teachers or to clarify career options.

Identifying Your Purpose and Mission

Reflecting on the following questions may help you to more fully articulate your particular role in life:

  • —What are my priorities in my personal and work life?
  • What gives me a sense of achievement?
  • —What are the times in my life that I would most like to repeat?
Identifying Your Interests

Identifying your interests requires both a general and specific approach.  You can start this exploration by asking questions such as:

  • What gives me energy and sustains me in the very challenging role of working with students?
  • —What challenges me in what I am doing now?
  • —What frustrates me or drains my energy?  (This may be the result of lack of skill/confidence or may indicate a generic lack of interest.)
Identifying Your Career Directions

There are many careers in Catholic education and many pathways. Education is a very broad field and even within the primary and secondary areas there are a whole range of possibilities for developing expertise and opening up specific career paths.

It is also acknowledged that most staff are balancing the diverse aspects of their personal and family lives with their professional careers. This may include periods of parental leave, carer's leave, part time work and other flexible arrangements to assist staff in meeting their personal and family responsibilities. CEO Wollongong has in place a range of policies, practices and resources to support staff as family members, carers and employees.

Which of the following aspects, or others of which you are aware, excite and stimulate you? 

  • —Contemporary Pedagogy
  • —Student Behaviour – SPB4L
  • —Pastoral care
  • —Special Education
  • —Gifted Education
  • —A Specific KLA
  • EALD
  • Technology
  • Reading Recovery (Primary)
  • Teacher/Librarian
  • Counselling
  • External Agencies (CEC Catholic Education Commission, BOS Board Of Studies)
  • Specialist CEO Positions
  • Religious Education Coordinator – Religious Education, Evangelisation, Spirituality
  • Middle Management / Coordinator
  • Acting Senior Leadership
  • Permanent Senior Leadership
  •  A Strategic Approach
What strategic action do I need to take now to progress my career?

You need to be ready to seize opportunities when they present.  A strategic approach to taking your career forward involves:

  • —having a “big picture” perspective on yourself and your profession
  • reflecting and setting long/short-term goals in relation to development and career moves
  • engaging in ongoing self-assessment and checking in on your plan from time to time
  • seeking feedback from significant others
  • Setting Your Career Goals

The SMART acronym can help you write effective career goals.

Specific – Aim for a specific, concrete area for your goal.

Measurable – To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as: how much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?

Attainable – Goals are most attainable when steps are thought out clearly and allow enough time. How do you intend to accomplish your goal? Which actions follow on other actions? Is the goal realistic given where you’re starting from? It should be a challenge, but also achievable.

Relevant – A relevant goal is one that really matters to you and to the end result. Is it worthwhile? Is this the right time? Does your goal relate to other efforts or timelines? Does it require resources that are currently available?

Timely - A goal should be grounded within a defined time period, both for clarity and to give your action urgency. When do you want to begin? When do you want to complete each step?

Career Goals

It is always important to set goals for yourself so that you know what you are trying to accomplish. Start by thinking about your long-term career goal and the short-term activities that will help you achieve it. These pieces will make up your career plan.

  • What is your long-term career goal?
  • What are short-term activities to reach this goal?
  • Write these down in your career plan.
Possible long-term Career Goals
  • Attain a leadership role.
  • Attain a higher level of accreditation to work, teach and lead.
  • Change job location/school/year level.
  • Set your eye on a specific award at work and go for it.
  • Attain a higher tertiary qualification in an area of interest.
  • Apply/gain funding for a special project at your school.
  • Attain an outside qualification (other than at tertiary level) in a specific area of interest.

The Path to Leadership

Following are the general essential criteria that applicants will need to provide evidence of, if interested in applying for the particular position with Catholic Education in the Diocese of Wollongong:

Principal Position
  • a deep understanding and commitment to being an active Catholic engaged in the issues of our contemporary world
  • a deep understanding and commitment to the mission and purpose of a Catholic school within the broader evangelising mission of the Catholic Church
  • a well-articulated Catholic pedagogy and successful experience in creating an effective learning environment for staff and students
  • personal qualities of empathy, compassion, discernment and sound judgement
  • highly developed inter-personal skills and a commitment to working collaboratively
  • the ability to give and receive constructive feedback and to negotiate and resolve conflict
  • successful experience as a Catholic school leader
  • experience in School Review and Improvement
  • a commitment to ongoing personal and professional learning, particularly shown through successful post-graduate studies in one or more of the following areas: religious education, theology, leadership, administration, curriculum, pastoral care
Assistant Principal
  • a deep understanding and commitment to being an active Catholic engaged in the issues of our contemporary world
  • a deep understanding and commitment to the mission and purpose of a Catholic school within the broader evangelising mission of the Catholic Church
  • a well-articulated Catholic pedagogy and successful experience in creating an effective learning environment for staff and students
  • personal qualities of empathy, compassion, discernment and sound judgement
  • highly developed inter-personal skills and a commitment to working collaboratively
  • the ability to give and receive constructive feedback and to negotiate and resolve conflict
  • a commitment to ongoing personal and professional learning
Religious Education Coordinator
  • being an active and committed Catholic
  • a deep understanding and commitment to the mission and purpose of a Catholic school within the broader evangelising mission of the Catholic Church
  • exemplary teaching and an ability to articulate a contemporary Catholic pedagogy
  • well developed interpersonal skills and collaborative leadership experience
  • currently holding a qualification in Religious Education (Certificate of RE or equivalent)
  • either holding (or having an immediate commitment to gain) a further postgraduate qualification in Religious Education/Theology/Catholic Leadership

The Religious Education Coordinator. The successful applicant will be responsible for:

  • leading  effective teaching and learning in Religious Education
  • supporting the leadership of the school in promoting the Catholic Identity of the school and engagement in Mission
  • contributing to the school’s improvement goals in learning, teaching and community engagement
  • directing the school’s liturgical life and mission and justice programs
Middle Leader 2 (Curriculum)
  • being a reflective and active Catholic committed to the integration of their faith within their daily lives
  • a deep understanding and commitment to the mission and purpose of the Catholic school within the broader Catholic Church
  • strong knowledge of the overall secondary curriculum and the ability to integrate ICT across the curriculum
  • have a strong knowledge of RoSA, Higher School Certificate and BOSTES curriculum requirements
  • well developed interpersonal skills and the ability to work collaboratively in a team
  • well developed administrative and organisational skills

Desirable Criteria:

  • a proven capacity to provide leadership in the area of student centred learning and ‘PBL’ Project Based Learning initiatives
Middle Leader 2 (Standard)
  • a knowledge of and commitment to the Mission of the Catholic School
  • qualifications to teach Religious Education
  • a high standard of competency and proficiency as a classroom teacher
  • a clear understanding of how children learn and be able to differentiate the curriculum to cater for individual needs
  • highly effective classroom management skills
  • a proven ability to work collaboratively as a team member
  • ability to mentor and coach others on staff
  • a knowledge of and willingness to implement The Habits of Mind
  • an understanding of the Thinking Processes to enhance student learning
Middle Leader 1
  • have a commitment to the Catholic ethos
  • have (or are obtaining) Religious Education qualifications
  • use collaborative practices ensuring that student learning is tracked, monitored and regularly reviewed
  • be able to use data to inform and evaluate the learning process
  • demonstrate a capacity to work as part of a collaborative team
  • demonstrate positive, realistic and creative strategies for student behaviour management within the SPB4L framework
  • possess proficient skills in ICLT



This section is organised and disseminated through a webinar, and accompanying video footage, to support employees in the job application process.

 Making Applications

When making application for a leadership position documentation will be required.  This will include a set of processes using prepared proformas.

When developing an application a number of general principles are worth considering:

  • Read the advertisement carefully and do as asked.  Avoid adding additional material or steps that are not requested.
  • Provide real evidence of your ability to do the job, not simply your beliefs or thoughts about the position.  For example, your understandings and beliefs about how children learn can be demonstrated simply in how you word some of the initiatives you have undertaken.
  • Highlight the significant ways in which you believe you can make a difference in the role, rather than summarising everything you have done.  Use any awareness you have of the key responsibilities of the role and the aspects of the role that attract your attention.
  • Note that the quality of your application does not depend on the number of pages you send.  The number of pages can sometimes be in inverse proportion to the quality of the application.  Excess pages can also indicate lack of discernment or lack of self-confidence.
  • Keep your introductory letter to one page.  Don’t repeat facts presented elsewhere.  Hone in on critical features of the role or position and/or needs of the school.
  • Six resume mistakes to avoid are information overload, flat language, irrelevant information, old-fashioned layout, spelling and grammatical mistakes, missing the key issues
  • The most effective resumes convey that the candidate has real knowledge and understanding of the issues that the position requires.
  • Use verbs and not just adjectives.  Verbs are strong tools to clearly communicate your abilities, achievements and career highlights.
  • Listing your successes in quantifiable terms shows that you are able to achieve goals and are aware of your contribution.
VIDEO tips – Putting together your Application 


When applying for a leadership position you will be required to nominate your current principal and your parish priest where you regularly worship as referees.  Where other referees are required, consider their credibility as referees in terms of their own leadership role and their understanding of the position for which you are making application.  In relation to referees and references you are encouraged to consider the following:

  • Even for required references, it is important to follow the courtesy of asking the people concerned if they would be willing to be your referee.
  • Always consider asking your Parish Priest in person to be your referee.  Remind him of your past and current involvement in the Parish.  With the many people he meets in his Parish, you cannot guarantee he will recall you when rung by the principal or CEO for a statement regarding practice of the faith.
  • Ask your referee whether they support your application and seek an opportunity to discuss the referee form with them.  Share with them how you see yourself meeting the criteria.  Request their feedback on the main areas involved.
  • A principal’s reference is one of the most important and crucial pieces of information a panel will use in both short-listing and coming to a final decision.  It is important that you know if you have your principal’s support for this step.
video Tips – referees


Applicants will vary in their capacity to perform well at interviews sometimes  resulting in failure to gain positions for which they are suitable.  Take time to consider the implications of personality on your potential performance.  The following points may assist you in your interview preparation. 

  • Allow the panel to see your genuine self. Avoidance of jargon, willingness to articulate points in your own words (eg: the Mission of the Church) and honestly will support a genuine presentation.  
  • Reveal your energy and enthusiasm for the challenges of the role not just in naming these but in the examples you provide. 
  • Be aware of the key stakeholder in the process. This will most often be the principal. Even while answering other panel members’ questions, be aware that the principal wants to know the answers to all the questions. Paint pictures in your answers that will enable him/her to imagine you in the school/role.  
  • Reflect on the contributions you have made over the past few years and your specific role in school development or projects. In particular, recall the difference you have made and achievements about which you are proud. Have these at the forefront of your awareness. Your energy will be apparent in naming them.
  • While coaching can be useful, practice in answering or preparing for assumed questions can be a trap. If you over-prepare you may come across as less authentic. It can also lead you to answer a presumed question rather than the question actually asked.
  • Listen to the focus or particular slant in the question being asked. It may help to repeat a particular phrase that identifies this. In some cases you may want to have the question repeated  
  • In response to questions, talk about what you have done. Be specific and avoid generalisation such as, “At our school we…..,” as panel members cannot presume to know your role in this. 
  • Remember that it is quite appropriate to pause for a moment to collect your thoughts before answering a question.
  • Answer the questions fully without adding a host of unnecessary details.
  • Remember that your responses to some questions could appropriately include examples from other than school experiences.
  • Study the school profile/visit the school website to ensure that you are aware of the implications of the needs of this school and the demands it will make on you.
  • Be clear about the step you are taking, and the implications for your personal and professional life. 
  • Reflect on what you believe are the critical qualities and abilities for successful negotiations of this role. Assess your skills and experience in these areas and seek feedback from your current leaders.
  • Always seek feedback and advice about your interviewing style.

Requesting and Receiving Feedback

If you have not been short-listed for a position you may be able to gain some feedback in terms of criteria for the position. Most panel chairpersons or a delegated panel member will be willing to give feedback following an interview. Take advantage of this. Unless you are well-known to this person, it is better not to ask for career advice, but simply for feedback on your performance in the interview.

Potential leaders can become discouraged when they are unsuccessful in a number of applications. In such circumstances, it is important to remember that you are not privy to full information about the circumstances. This can relate to the number and quality of applicants or the relative degree to which applicants met the desirable criteria.

Share your feelings with your principal, a colleague or close friend. Recall your strengths and identify ways in which you might improve your interview performance if relevant.

Applicants who are interviewed at system-level and who are recognised as having strong potential will be encouraged to continue to make application for suitable positions. For those who see their work as ministry and part of the mission of Jesus, acceptance in faith that there is a 'right place' for you can be encouraging.

VIDEO Tips – Requesting and rECEIVING FEEDBACK