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New CESA deputy focused on improvement, quality

Schools

The individual needs of each child are at the centre of Catholic education in South Australia and will also be the focus for the work of its new deputy director, John Mula.

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Starting in the role last month, Mr Mula is leading the newly-created School Quality and Performance section of the Catholic Education Office.

He will support director Dr Neil McGoran – who he has already worked with on the National Catholic Education Commission – to drive a “significant improvement agenda”, with a particular focus on ensuring school quality, performance and improvement across Catholic schools.

Speaking to The Southern Cross during a visit to Adelaide late last year, Mr Mula said initially he would be spending his time “listening to as many people as possible” and visiting schools throughout the Adelaide Archdiocese and Diocese of Port Pirie to “understand the culture, understand where people are at”.

“My role is about asking what we can do collectively as a community of communities to continue to put the child at the focus of everything we do,” he said.

“Every child matters, every child has a right to a quality education… but how do we do know we do that, what evidence is there that we do that? Until we know we won’t be able to have that baseline to further enhance what we do.”

Mr Mula said education was continually changing and Catholic schools and Catholic Education SA need to “discern change and adapt to ensure we focus on offering a quality Catholic education”.

“There are three touchstones for Catholic Education and they are, we must ensure all we do is Christ centred, we must ensure it is student focused, and must ensure it is learning as a means to a greater end.

“It’s not just about an academic education, it’s about learning for life. Catholic education is not just about information, it is about transformation.”

Mr Mula comes to Adelaide from Hobart where he spent the past five years as the executive director of Catholic Education in Tasmania, ultimately responsible for 38 schools and 17,000 students. In leaving this role he will also stand down as deputy chair of the National Catholic Education Commission.

Prior to his time on the Apple Isle, Mr Mula was the diocesan director of Catholic Schools in Armidale for five years.

“It was a small diocese with 24 schools and a high percentage of Indigenous communities together with small parish schools in country towns,” he explained.

“It was a wonderful way to learn the role. I was fortunate that I was one of 11 directors in NSW so as a new director there was a lot of support and experience I could tap in to.”

Raised in Brisbane where he was educated by the Franciscans, Mr Mula has spent most of his working life in regional Queensland as a teacher, principal and then assistant executive director, Learning and Teaching, in Cairns.

With the Eastern seaboard now covered, he said his working journey around Australia would stop in Adelaide.

“I’m really excited by the job here,” he said.

When not working, he and wife Julie are planning to explore the State and the nearby wine regions.

Mr Mula also enjoys reading and playing 70s and 80s music on the guitar – not acoustic but “electric and loud”.

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