Principal's Update

April 24, 2019

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Greetings of the Easter season to you and your family,

Students and their families will know that our Term 1 was very fast-paced and brought with it a very diverse range of educational opportunities for students. Here is an overview of the breadth of activities that occurred during the term:

Academic – Year 12 Legal Studies Living the Law USQ; Years 11 & 12 French Taste of Languages; Shake and Stir performances for English; Senior Art excursion to APT9; Senior Drama excursion to Single Asian Female performance; Year 9 Geography farm visit; Year 10 History excursion to MacArthur Museum; Certificate III Sport and Recreation visits to a commercial gym and QLD Reds Rugby training; Year 11 Early Childhood excursion to childcare centre; The Arts students attendance at Kinky Boots performance; Year 11 Geography Ecological Hazards excursion; Year 11 Legal Studies Brisbane Supreme Court visit; Years 11 and 12 Certificate II Hospitality practical functions.

Mission – Investiture Eucharist; Year 7 Tradition and Spirit Day; Years 4 to 6 Reflection day; Senior Leaders Formation Pilgrimage; Caritas Just Leadership Day; Year 12 Retreat; Year 8 Retreat Day; Year 10 Retreat Day; Ash Wednesday liturgy; Shrove Tuesday pancake sale for CARITAS; CARITAS King and Queen of the Hill run for Project Compassion.

Pastoral – Year 9 Leadership Development; GRIP Leadership for Year 12 Leaders; Years 4 to 6 Clean-Up Australia Day; Year 8 Camp; Toowoomba Mayoral Morning Tea; Toowoomba Schools Captains’ Council

Co-curricular – Horse-riding lessons; Cattle Show Team (Pittsworth; Oakey and Warwick shows); Peak2Park Fun Run; Chess; DIVAs International Women’s Day High Tea; Debating; DIVAs ‘welcome’ pool party; Robotics

Sport – Cricket; Swimming; Netball; Volleyball; AFL; Rugby; Touch; Futsal; Basketball; Year 4 T-ball Gala Day; Tennis; Cross Country; Football

The Arts – College Play Camp; Take Note Music Camp; Gryphon Chorale; The Fortesmen; College Choir; String Ensemble; Chamber Strings; Concert Band; Guitar Ensemble; Canticum Choir; Prima Voces; Lower Strings Ensemble; Canticum Choir; Symphonic Band; Jazz Band; Big Band; Percussion Ensemble; Middle School Drama Club; Senior School Drama Club

Boarding – Coast Trip; Boarder’s Tree Top Challenge

Community – Community Dinner; Grandparent’s Day

The College is also extremely proud of those students, teams and staff who have excelled throughout the term and who have been selected for further representation or have performed at the highest level possible. Some of the most notable include:

  • Darling Downs Representative Teams - Downlands College students have been selected as members of the following teams: cricket, triathlon, orienteering, swimming, netball, touch, AFL, football, rugby, water polo, hockey, golf

Teams

  • Junior First VII – won the Junior Vicki Wilson Carnival – the team was dominant throughout the carnival, winning all games and playing with great sportsmanship and teamwork
  • Open Girls Futsal – won the South-West QLD Futsal tournament with a dominant display, scoring 48 goals and only conceding 2. This team progresses to the next stage in this state-wide competition

 

Individuals

  • Zoë Hulme-Peake (Class of 2018) – received a Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority Distinction Achievement Award for being one of the top 30 students in the 2018 cohort in QLD
  • Annie Harding and Georgia Poole (Year 12) were selected to attend the QUT High School STEM Internship Program
  • Carter Blades – Under 15 Australian 400m champion at the recent National Championships in a personal best time of 50.98seconds
  • Kayla Jackson (Year 12) – has been selected in the Australian Youth 7’s Rugby Program
  • Chloe Cocks – captained the Tribe 7’s Under 16 team at the All Girls International Rugby 7’s tournament in Hong Kong and was named Player of the Tournament
  • Kohan Herbert (Class of 2017) – selected in the New Zealand Under 20 team to compete in the Oceania Rugby Championships

Staff

  • Mrs Katie Wright – co-facilitated the Living the Law 2019 student forum at USQ
  • Mrs Leanne Butler (Curriculum Leader – Mathematics) – co-author of the Cambridge Publishing “Essential Mathematics” text book; and, appointed by the QCAA as a Lead Endorser for General Mathematics
  • Mr Lindsay Mason – awarded Life Membership of Toowoomba Schools Secondary Sport Association for his services to this group and Toowoomba schools sport
  • Mr Shane Tooley (Curriculum Leader – The Arts; MIC Performance) – Musical Director of the Empire Theatre production Kinky Boots.


Progressive Reporting
Within the educational field there has been considerable research conducted to quantify factors that have the greatest impact on improved student achievement. John Hattie’s Visible Learning research into effect size identifies ‘feedback’ as a significant factor that has major impact on improving student performance. In acknowledging this research and looking for every opportunity to support students to improve their level of achievement, Downlands College has implemented a progressive reporting model.

As a student or parent/carer this means that when an assessment item is marked, not only is the grade or mark available to be viewed through My.Downlands, but a comment will also be available which clearly identifies a student’s strengths and areas for improvement from this task. The aim of changing to a progressive reporting model is to increase the quality of feedback from each assessment task and promote a more meaningful conversation between parents and students. This does not change the normal feedback process that would occur at a classroom level; rather, it provides a mode to ensure the teacher, student and parents/carers have access to the same information regarding achievement.

If there are concerns about a student’s progress, please ensure contact is made with the class teacher in the first instance.

Student Wellbeing
Student wellbeing is the core business of all schools; however, at Downlands we view student wellbeing as greater than our core business. Our pastoral care of our students is our very reason for existence as an MSC school, and this focus is woven through our Values.

Downlands will be guided and informed by our beliefs and commitment to:

  • Community - fostering a kind and compassionate community
  • Personal Growth - guiding people to reach their potential through connection of mind and heart
  • Relationships - nurturing a culture founded on trust, humility and excellence
  • Spirituality - living our Catholic faith as intended by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart
  • Learning - inspiring engagement, 21st century learning skills and academic growth

(Extract from Shaping the Downlands Future)

In an effort to further the school’s ability to support students and families in a changing societal landscape, the College will be partnering with Stymie (https://about.stymie.com.au/about/) commencing in Term 2. ‘Stymie’ means to stop or thwart. Stymie provides a platform that enables students to make anonymous notifications about peers they believe are being bullied or harmed. Once the notification has been made, the College receives the information via an email, and responds according to our pastoral care framework.

Stymie helps combat the bystander effect by enabling students to report incidents of bullying and harm, safely and anonymously.

  • The bystander effect occurs when the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening in an emergency situation.
  • Social influence affects how bystanders behave, and students are less likely to stand up to bullying behaviours in public when the number of onlookers is high.
  • This bystander effect is also caused by a diffusion of responsibility—the belief that someone else will help.

Taking into account that our kids are very socially invested, many of them don’t feel as though they can speak up and often, they just don’t know how.

Rather than trying to work against this peer pressure, our solution recognises the nuanced nature of their social currency, by providing security and anonymity to the bystanding community. (https://about.stymie.com.au/for-parents/)

Whilst this is being implemented at Downlands College to provide another avenue to support student wellbeing, it does not replace our pastoral care which is founded on the very important relationship between student and teacher, or child and parent.

The challenge for all school communities is to navigate the shifting societal culture that is changing the formative influences on our young people. In the case of Downlands, our cultural and faith context is grounded in the Catholic and MSC ‘story’ of which we are an ongoing part and whose history and traditions permeate College life. And our ‘meaning-making’ for our students sees us calling them to continually reflect – to make the journey into their own hearts and from there back out into the world to be the best version of themselves for the world in which we live.
(Extract from Mission Report, 2014).

In conversations with your children please continue to reinforce the need to be kind to peers, be humble, be the best version of themselves and to understand that ‘difference’ should be celebrated rather than feared.

Looking forward to a very successful Term 2.

Regards,

Mr Stephen Koch, Principal

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