Date of Submission



Schools and school leaders are experiencing a growing pressure to consistently deliver high quality education. Religious Education Coordinators (RECs) aim to encourage and support religion teachers within the school context to deliver this goal. As a means of achieving improved quality, the importance of continuous teacher learning and the influence of teaching on student outcomes has become increasingly apparent. An investment in the ongoing professional learning of religious educators is gaining prominence as a necessary vehicle for enhancing student outcomes, however it has not proved to be a panacea. Whilst continuous professional learning should be at the core of religious education teacher professionalism, in some instances this is not so. At a time when accountability has never been higher, there is growing recognition that new kinds of leadership must be centred on successful student and teacher learning. This has prompted my exploration into how RECs can lead professional learning to enhance staff and student learning. This research seeks to better understand the potential of the leadership role of the REC in professional learning. The proposed study is located within a constructivist paradigm and is informed by the theoretical perspective of symbolic interactionism. It draws on grounded theory to explore the perceptions, expectations and experiences of leading professional learning and the opportunities for this in the context of Catholic primary schools. Through surveys, focus groups and unstructured interviews with key stakeholders in religious education, this study seeks to provide deeper understandings of the leadership role of the REC in professional learning and to generate theory to support leadership of religious educators in student learning. Although the genre of professional learning and leadership is well established in educational literature, there has been limited empirical research in this field which focuses on the role of the REC. This investigation may have implications for what is provided as professional learning for religious educators, how it is provided and how it is supported. The findings may be particularly useful for all key stakeholders concerned with the quality of religious education who seek to implement and evaluate religious education professional learning and thus continue to improve the quality of the subject in the Catholic primary school.


School of Theology

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


352 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Faculty of Education