Principal's Update

January 25, 2019

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Greetings to all in the Downlands Community

A very Happy New Year to you and your family. I hope that 2019 has started well for all in the Downlands community.  I am very proud and privileged to be the Principal of this exceptional school and would like to share with you my education journey to date and some of my thoughts regarding Downlands College.

My tertiary studies were undertaken at the University of New England where I completed a Bachelor of Rural Science (Hons) and a Graduate Diploma in Education. Subsequently, a Graduate Diploma in Religious Education has been completed through the Australian Catholic University and a Master of Educational Leadership (Catholic Educational Leadership) is currently being completed. In 1993 I began employment with the NSW Department of Education and worked as a Science and Agriculture teacher and year co-ordinator at Glen Innes High School.  From 1999 I was Head of Science and Agriculture at Tenterfield High School. In 2010 I was acknowledged with the Director-General’s award for Excellent Service to Public Education and Training in NSW.  In 2012, my association with Downlands College began when I was appointed to the position of Assistant Principal – Teaching and Learning.  This role subsequently evolved to become Deputy Principal – Teaching and Learning. I have also been fortunate to have had the opportunity in 2016 to participate in a pilgrimage to Issoudun, France, where Fr Jules Chevalier founded the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) in 1854. The associated seven-day study course allowed me to develop a deeper understanding of Jules Chevalier and the MSC Mission and Vision in education. My two children are both enjoying a Downlands College education.

With it being the season of the Australian Open and Cricket Big Bash we often hear commentators speak about ‘momentum’. As a College, we are experiencing significant momentum. This is the result of the alignment of many important factors, including: strategic planning, a clear vision for the College, dedicated staff, utilisation of external expertise and having students and parents who actively engage with the Downlands culture and opportunities provided. Momentum from a school perspective is often measured and spoken about in terms of visible successes – OP results, NAPLAN data, wins in the sporting arena, selection in representative teams, musicals, drama performances, increase in enrolment numbers and school growth.  These visible successes are often benchmarked against other schools. Simon Sinek in his book Start with Why reinforces this, stating, “We’re always competing against someone else.  We’re always trying to be better than someone else. Better quality. More features. Better service. We are always comparing ourselves to others”. In a very competitive educational market such as Toowoomba, we are very mindful of this; however, we choose to place our focus on raising our own benchmark in all that we do.  We know that if our expectations, culture and beliefs are nourished by our committed teaching staff, coaches and tutors, then the results of Downlands students will speak for themselves. The ‘momentum’ is derived from a shared belief, “if you believe what we believe, and you believe the things we do, we can help you” (Sinek, 2009). We are your school of choice. A significant part of our success must be attributed to us always being true to our MSC Ethos, where your heart finds a home, and being guided by our commitment to community, personal growth, relationships, spirituality and learning.

Even though many aspects of education can be measured and are compared, for us at Downlands some of the most memorable and precious aspects of a student’s journey cannot be directly measured. Happiness, experiencing kindness, feeling valued and being part of a community calls directly to the heart of each student. It is the very basis on which Father Jules Chevalier founded the MSC saying, “It is by the heart that we are something”. We have a strong community and must recognise and acknowledge the development, social conscience and aspirations of each individual student and the way in which the College supports an education for the “whole student”. It is important to celebrate and acknowledge all students who aspire to be the best they can be and the significance of their individual education journey. 

2018 was a stellar year for Downlands College with outstanding academic results, memorable sporting and performing arts achievements and continued growth.  I look forward to further successes and achievements in 2019 and wish each student the very best for the year ahead.
Year 12 Results 2018
We congratulate the 2018 cohort on their outstanding academic achievement.  These results reflect the very strong relationships developed over many years between the students, parents and teachers.

5.26% of Downlands College students achieved an Overall Position of OP 1 (5 students). 16% of students achieved an OP 1 to 3 (15 students); 23.16% of students achieved an Overall Position of OP 1 to 5, 52% of students achieved an Overall Position of OP 1 to 10 and 86.32% of students achieved an Overall Position of OP 1 to 15.

The following students achieved an:
OP 1 – Zoë Hulme-Peake, Thomas Markey, Fletcher Price, Misty Tommei and Kyle Wills
OP 2 – Alexander Devlin, Neve Lawless and Georgia Lunney
OP 3 – Dominic Brennan, Ashleigh Conway, Aidan Harris, Catherine Hodal, Mitchell Kelly, Eloise Tighe and Hannake Van Sliedregt

In addition, Zoë Hulme-Peake, Thomas Markey and Catherine Hodal were awarded QCAA Certificates of Academic Commendation for achieving Very High Achievements (VHAs) in the equivalent of at least six Authority subjects (i.e. at least 24 semesters at VHA standard).
Of the cohort, 83 Downlands students made an application for tertiary study through QTAC (Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre) and as at 17 January (major round offer), 80 students had received an offer.

It should be noted that international students are not included in the QTAC offer information released to schools. In addition to this, Bond University has a direct application process, so no Bond offers are included in the above information. Successful interstate university applications are also not included in the above information. There is another small QTAC offer round in February and I would expect additional offers to be made at this time.

Overall, the 2018 QTAC outcomes have provided students with their preferred post-school pathway and we wish them every success with their future endeavours.
Congratulations to the 2019 College Leaders
Below is a list of all students taking up 2019 College Leadership positions. Leadership and Senior badges will be presented during the annual Investiture Eucharist on Friday 1 February, to which parents are invited.  We wish all of our Leaders the best for an exciting year ahead!

College Captains 
Lily Norris and Ben Spackman

College Vice-Captains  
Emily Lyons and Jed Campbell

College Leaders 
Patrick Bullock, Libby Butler, Betty-Rose Carey and Jasper Curran
Performing Arts Captains 
Natalie Tew and John Schoch

Sports Captains 
Eloise Peden and Maconal Grealy

Jules Social Justice Captains
Abigail Birrell and Ryan McCosker

House Captains
Jouët – Isla Cusato and Logan Purcell
Piperon – Emma Burton and Lachie Waters
Treand – Anastastia Fatseas and Darcy Reed
Vandel – Shauna Russell and Cameron Lyons
Boarding House Leaders
Cody House
Captain – Jasper Curran
Vice-Captain – Ben Spackman
Copas House
Captain – Harry Pontin
Vice-Captain – Deacon Hilton
Chevalier House
Captain – Lily Norris
Vice-Captain – Alecia Piennar 
Student Achievements
Carter Blades – Congratulations to Carter who won the Under 14, 400 metres at the Australian National Athletics Championships. Carter was also named Darling Downs Junior Sports Star for the month of December

Cameron Moffatt (class of 2017) – Congratulations to Cameron who was selected for Australia to compete against New Zealand in Larsens Showjumping Championships.

Brad Twidale (class of 2016) – Congratulations to Brad on being selected in the Australian Rugby Under 20’s squad

Many thanks to our staff who have given time over the holidays to accompany student groups for sporting and cultural immersion tours, such as:

  • Mr Matt Rutherfoord, Mrs Maxine Hetherington – World Challenge, Cambodia and Vietnam
  • Mr Ben Mayes, Mr David Wimmer and Mr Robert Joseph – Festival of Cricket
  • Mrs Tamara Breeze, Mr Michael Montafia, Mr Christopher Skennerton and Mr Ian Bullock - Volleyball

The College welcomes the following teachers who will join us in 2019:

  • Mr Christopher Oakes – Deputy Principal
  • Mr Ian Bullock – Assistant Principal Teaching and Learning
  • Mr Byron Bailey – Humanities and Religion
  • Ms Julie Brophy (Term 1 for Dr Jeff Buchanan) – Science and Agriculture
  • Ms Leanne Colthup – Science
  • Ms Ingrid Gow – Science and Religion
  • Ms Kim Hocking – French
  • Mr Stephen Hodgson – Information Technology and Mathematics
  • Ms Madeline Kent – English
  • Ms Kara Locke – Year 4
  • Ms Kate Mason – English and Humanities
  • Ms Rosanne Pietsch – Junior School
  • Miss Christina Roos - English
  • Ms Geraldine Sevil – Food Technology
  • Mr Robert Stuart - Religion
  • Ms Lauren Torr – Humanities and Religion
  • Mr Michael West – Year 6

We also have the following staff joining us this year:

  • Mr Robert Joseph – Direct of Cricket Coaching/Sporting Excellence Program Manager
  • Mr Riley Louw – GAP Student/Boarding Assistant from South Africa
  • Mr Andrew Walker – Rugby Coach – First XV assistant coach and mentor for junior development

Staff Departures
After 13 years of service in a variety of roles, Mr David O’Sullivan has resigned. We wish Mr O’Sullivan happiness and success in his future pursuits.
Excellence Subsidy
Downlands College currently offers scholarships in the following areas: Academic, All Rounder and Performing Arts. To further assist students and families who are selected to represent at a State level, an annual Excellence Subsidy will be introduced in 2019.

The criteria and conditions for an Excellence Subsidy will be as follows:

  • For enrolled students who make application to the Principal;
  • For students who are selected as a QLD representative (not honorary) or QLD Country representative (not honorary) and compete at National Titles in an activity offered in regular competition by Downlands College;
  • Students must maintain above a C level of academic achievement;
  • If already on a scholarship or assisted place, the difference between the subsidy and assisted place would be the level of subsidy; 
  • Students who qualify for an Excellence Subsidy will have an Independent Support Plan developed and supported by the College;
  • The Excellence Subsidy will apply for a 12 month period on tuition fees only

Sporting Excellence Program
In 2019 Downlands College will initiate a Sporting Excellence Program.  The aim of the program is to identify existing and future students to be part of a structured excellence program that spans the Junior, Middle and Senior Schools.

The Sporting Excellence Program will cover the following areas:


  • Students involved in the Program will be individually profiled to asertain the scope and extent of extra assistance/training they may require. The majority of students will continue training with their teams in season and their coaches as per normal. From a physical perspective, any extra specific skills, agility, speed, aerobic or anaerobic capacity or strength and conditioning will be available through the Excellence Program and can be delivered through the Downlands Strength and Conditioning staff and from working with other sports coaches; cross country and athletics.


  • Separate to the additional physical preparation, the Program will cater for students to be taken through the complementary or ‘soft skills’ in sport and will include: goal-setting, performance evaluation and tracking; nutrition; use of IT and data relevant to each sport; mentoring and study help to balance sporting and academic commitments; and exploring transition links between end of Year 12 and adult sport.
  • These areas will be the direct responsibility of the Sporting Excellence Program  manager.

Identification of Students: FTEM – Foundation, Talent, Elite and Mastery

  • Students invited to be part of the Sporting Excellence Program will be identified through the FTEM system developed and used by the AIS and many National Sporting Organisations in Australia. The model for Downlands has been adapted with input from the current FTEM used by the AIS, Touch Football Australia, Swimming Australia, Cricket Australia and the NSW Institute of Sport.

More information on this exciting initiative will be provided during Term 1.

Capital Works and School Improvement
Downlands College applied through the Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC) for a state-funded grant to modernise and enlarge the Cuskelly Library.  We have been successful with this application and we have been granted $3.1 million to redevelop the current structure into a Resource Centre which will centrally house the Cuskelly Library, Information Technology hub, Learning Support, Careers and Learning Pathways and the Indigenous Liaison Office. This work should commence during Term 2. As part of this project, a connecting walkway will be constructed between the Resource Centre, Centenary Hall, Dwyer Hall and Asprey Hall – the lift and ramps that will be part of this building will make much of the campus disabled compliant.

The refurbished Junior School in Mooney Wing was occupied at the end of 2018.  This is a modern and spacious learning space for our Junior School students.

Other improvements

  • Re-laying of the Main Oval turf cricket wicket and construction of new practice wickets on the southern end of Main Oval.  This allows for a more centralised practice and playing facility.
  • Reconfiguration of the Middle School Leaders’ office space
  • Refurbishment of the Visual Arts rooms
  • Refurbishment of Yelds Hall 1 and 2
  • New furniture in Dwyer Hall classrooms
  • Reconfiguration of the Administration offices
  • Relocation and refurbishment of the Counsellor’s Office
  • Construction of new male and female toilet facilities on the northern end of Doyle Wing to replace the aged ‘dungeon’ toilets
  • Fencing and security upgrade along Kate Street boundary
  • Upgrade of Kate Street drop off area and Main Oval parking area

Uniform and Presentation Expectations
I request all students to continue to lift presentation standards through wearing the full College uniform correctly, addressing any “holiday” haircut styles before the commencement of the school year and ensuring the College hat meets the standard of personal presentation expected at the College.

Final reminders:

  • Friday 25 January - Years 4, 5 and 6 Meet and Greet and book drop off 4pm - 5:30pm in Mooney Wing. Please note: Parents may use the main driveway or enter from Kate Street and park under the Sacre Coeur Centre, but there will be no drive-through access from Kate Street.
  • Tuesday 29 January - New Student Welcome and Induction Day - ALL NEW students (Years 4-6 and Years 8-12) and ALL Year 7 students must attend wearing their summer uniform from 9am - 1:45pm. Students only need to bring a water bottle and pencil case with writing utensils. Morning tea and lunch will be supplied by the College. 
  • Tuesday 29 January - Boarders return from 12 noon
  • Tuesday 29 January - Boarding Parents Dinner 5:30pm. All boarding parents are invited. There is no cost; however, please RSVP by Thursday 24 January for catering.
  • Wednesday 30 January - Classes commence for all students (Years 4 - 12) at 8:30am.
  • Wednesday 30 January - Term 1 fees due unless a payment plan is in place. Total annual fee must be paid by this date to attract the 3.5% discount.
  • Wednesday 30 January - Swimming training commences in the Downlands pool (6 - 7am). Swimming training will be offered on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings during Term 1. After training, students may shower, change and enjoy a complimentary breakfast in Tudor Hall. 
  • Thursday 31 January - Performing Arts Muster (11am Graham Centre) for students wishing to participate in co-curricular ensembles and/or take individual music lessons.
  • Thursday 31 January - Basketball Muster (11am and 1:40pm Sacre Coeur Centre) for students wishing to play Basketball in the Friday Night Basketball Competition during Term 1. Students should be aware they will be required to attend one morning training session a week plus a game on Friday Night. All uniforms are provided for the students.
  • Friday 1 February – Investiture Eucharist - Principal and College Leaders @ 8:45am.
  • Friday 1 February – Twilight Swimming Carnival for students aged 9 - 12 years commencing 4:30pm - Downlands Pool
  • Friday 15 February – Community Dinner.  A wonderful evening for staff and parents. Please RSVP by Thursday 7 February.

We look forward to a great year at the College,

Mr Stephen Koch, Principal

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