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24 March 2021

The Emmaus Education

  • Leadership Message

Dear Families and Friends

Emmaus staff are currently reviewing the purpose behind the education we provide. We obviously want to offer a distinctly Christian education, but we are wanting to bring further clarity in articulating the goals driving this pursuit. As we strive to bring glory to God in our act of service to Him and His community, we all agree that a Christian education ought to be an excellent education.

However, what does an excellent education look like? Does it look like:
• Outstanding ATAR and NAPLAN results?
• Students graduating to become highly successful in their future career choices?
• Young people aiming for their personal best in extra-curricular involvement?

The answer to these questions is an emphatic, ‘yes!’ Part of our educational purpose at Emmaus is certainly to strive towards these things. But we want more! It reminds me of when the Apostle Paul declared to the church in Corinth:

1 Corinthians 13:1-2 (NIV)
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

The examples Paul used are all good things, which he endorsed in other parts of his writing. But without love, they are useless. In the same way, the three educational aspirations I described earlier are all good things, but ultimately, fall short without love.

As part of the college-wide review, our staff recently engaged with the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Educational Declaration (2019). A robust and commendable set of educational objectives endorsed by all State and Federal Education Ministers. The paper outlines the broad educational goals they want for all Australian young people. As a secular document with humanistic underpinnings, we wanted staff to respond to these ideas from a Christian world view. During this process, Emmaus staff were asked to identify the statements included in the document they felt most resonated with the education we provide to our students. Despite all the statements available in the paper, which included many worthy ideas such as encouraging life-long learning, cultivating curiosity, assisting students to develop fundamental numeracy and literacy skills. The following four points were prioritised by the majority of staff.

Students will:
• Act with moral and ethical integrity
• Have empathy for the circumstances of others and work for the common good
• Develop personal values and attributes such as honesty, empathy, loyalty, responsibility and respect for others
• Relate well to others and maintain healthy relationships

Often schools make high educational outcomes their number one priority. The fruit becomes the focus. At Emmaus, we are more interested in cultivating a rich soil, emphasising a loving and caring community. We then trust that God is the one who grows the fruit (Matthew 13).

The fascinating thing about the Emmaus phenomenon is while our primary focus is on cultivating rich soil, God continues to bless the effort of our students and teachers with an abundance of fruit. In other words, the educational results our students receive still significantly exceed state and national averages. In fact, this website placed our secondary school in the top 10 independent schools in South Australia based on 2019 ATAR and NAPLAN results. We are humbled and grateful to God for this academic success, but this does not define our purpose. Something even greater does, and that is exactly what we are currently reviewing and I look forward to bringing you more updates soon.

Adrian Cotterell
Director of Studies F-12