Leadership Perspectives | A Conversation with Cass Pendlebury

21 July 2021

A Conversation with...


Name: Cass Pendlebury
Position: Executive Officer NSW / ACT | CSA National Portfolio - Curriculum


CSA: It's wonderful to have you share your perspective on leadership in schools, Cass. How long have you been working with CSA?

Cass: I have been at CSA for 7.5 years now.  I started in the role of State Executive officer for NSW and the ACT in 2014 and, over the last 5 years, I have also helped develop the God’s Big Story (GBS) approach, professional development, and tools as part of my national portfolio for Curriculum.

CSA: What work did you do prior to working with CSA?

Cass: Before joining CSA, I was the Head of English at Charlton Christian College and, previously, was teaching English at Green Point Christian College. Prior to returning to education in 2004, I was a Human Resources Management Consultant working in Australasia.

CSA:  What do you see are the current major leadership issues in Christian education?

Cass: I see one of the major issues in leadership of Christian schools as burnout in principals. The role of principal in a Christian school is a complex one as often they carry both the educational and pastoral leadership mantels. A longitudinal study of Australian principals’ (public and private education sectors) wellbeing has been undertaken by the Australian Catholic University from 2011 to 2019. The 2019 study highlights the need for wellbeing interventions to prevent principal burnout (Riley et al., 2020). The impact of the pandemic over the last 18 months has probably exacerbated the pressures on the spiritual, physical and mental wellbeing of principals. This issue has prompted me to commence a PhD investigating Spiritual Wellbeing in the leadership of Christian schools.

"One of the best supports in my own leadership journey has been the relationship I have with a mentor. We have worked together over the past 2 years and the opportunity to unpack my wellbeing journey has had profound impact on my own leadership."

CSA: What's one piece of advice you might give to emerging leaders in education?

Cass: I have had a bit of a leadership ‘mantra’ for a while now inspired by Bobby Clinton’s work on Christian leadership  It’s bounded by the concept that leadership is a lifetime of God’s lessons. 

  • Do everything for God and others and steward your own wellbeing.
  • Have a sovereign mindset so you can see God’s handiwork in all circumstances
  • People matter most and we are all flawed and learning
  • Process is important too
  • Research is best applied and evaluated in the light of practice
  • Celebration is essential
  • Always build capacity and allow dreaming.

CSA: What is your favourite CSA Resource or Tool and why?

CassMy favourite CSA resource is, of course, the God's Big Story suite of resources and particularly the Biblical Lensing Tool. This tool allows educators and leaders to critically evaluate their planning through the lenses of Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration. I have seen it transform the thinking of all who have used it in both curriculum and strategy. Find out more about God's Big Story by viewing the resources in CSA's Resource Library, or by heading over to the GBS Overview page.

View Curriculum Resources


God's Big Story

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