From the Principal

The past couple of weeks have been challenging for many of us in Catholic education and I believe it is important for school leaders to respond to their communities in the face of so much negative publicity.

Recent issues and events have generated a good deal of discussion and critical reflection, but I also believe they create an opportunity to affirm the excellent work done by staff and students and reiterate our position on matters of great significance in contemporary education. 

I have included below extracts from my Principal’s address at last Friday’s Academic Awards and Leaders’ Investiture Assembly. After highlighting our 2019 VCE students’ tremendous success, I spoke to students, staff and parents present around the need for strong leadership at all levels of the school to meet contemporary issues head-on and highlight the inherent strengths of De La Salle as we work together to develop great young men.

As we celebrate and acknowledge this year’s student leaders this morning, I would like to speak a little about leadership and related issues. At the very centre of strong, effective and successful leadership is a high level of respect – and as our Lasallian Guiding Principle says – Respect for all persons. 

I think all of us are well aware of the controversy surrounding St Kevin’s at the moment. While it would be unfair and inappropriate for me to comment on another school’s affairs, and I have no intention of doing so, the situation does throw into a very stark light a range of themes and issues for contemporary boys’ education and Catholic schools in general.

This is where the critical importance of leadership comes to the fore. Leadership from staff and students, which is built on respect, generates respect and enhances our Lasallian culture of respect.

Boys’ schools are very much in the public eye, Catholic schools probably even more so. The good news for us is that our students largely represent yourselves, your family and your school very well in the public domain and understand the importance of that. I feel very strongly about this – I’m proud to be your Principal and it’s important I acknowledge and thank you for this positive manner in which you conduct yourselves.

As you will know by now, our 2020 College theme is Respect. That must be translated into practice, to mean respect for all in the community. Respect for your peers — all of them — because they all deserve it — respect for your teachers and families and respect for the traditions and values of our College. 

It is through respect we can help address the critically important society issue of respect for women and gender equity, and it is through respect we increase our understanding of — and reject — misogyny and associated behaviours.

Another issue to come out of the news this week is a school’s obligation to support any student who reports an issue and deal with it appropriately. I would remind each and every De La Salle student our policies and processes are strong, up-to-date and reliable. You need to know that it is safe and right to report any concerns to a trusted staff member to be then addressed with respect and confidence by Ms Alger and me.

Mr Peter Houlihan

Back to The Duce Issue 2020 02 - 27 February 2020