February 13, 2024

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Principal's Message


Notices from the Deputy Principal

Learning and Teaching at St Columba’s College

Welcome to our new Speech Pathologist

Sports 2024

Music Program at St Columba's College

Welcome to Year 7 English

Neurospicy Tips and Tricks - #1 Homework Systems

Moonee Valley Teens Dinner

Year 7 2026

Important Dates

Principal's Message

Welcome Back – a Year of Compassion

It has been such a joy to welcome back students for the 2024 school year. There is a palpable sense of excitement and energy around the College as students get back into their study routines.

As introduced in my letter of 23 January, this year our Mary Aikenhead Ministries and College focus value is Compassion. While none of the values we espouse and live can be separated from each other, a specific focus means that we are more aware of how this particular value becomes a part of who we are and how we live our lives. It heartens me to reflect on how I have already seen compassion in abundance around the College, especially among our students. Staff members have been quick to share their experiences of witnessing our young people make each other feel welcome and included, especially our new students, as they come to be a part of our community. Thank you to these students for understanding the vulnerability that comes with being new to a place, and for ensuring that everyone has a great start in finding their place within our community.

Opening School Mass and High Achiever’s Assembly

This week we will welcome back and celebrate our 2023 students who achieved wonderful outcomes in their senior programs of study. We congratulate all of our Year 12 students on their results last year.

There is an enormous amount of statistical information that comes with the VCE results. A great deal of which is not shared in the public domain. One element of this data is what is commonly known as “adjusted scores”, a statistic that shows results predicted through the GAT versus results achieved by students. It has been particularly pleasing to see the number of studies in 2023 where the achieved scores were much higher than the predicted. A testament to the industrious work of both teachers and students, and the culture of high expectations we promote at the College.

College Uniform

High expectations are also part of the uniform expectations we have of our students. Our uniform is flexible, adaptable and easy to wear. We have also made several accommodations with respect to grooming requirements in response to student requests, negotiated through one of our student leadership bodies, the Student Engagement Team (SET). As a result, students are required to be in uniform as a matter of course – the three strikes procedure we were employing will no longer be in use. Students who are unable to comply with our clearly stated expectations will be issued with a lunchtime restorative workshop on the day of the infringement. After school lunchtime restoratives will also be issued for students who are unable to meet expectations. In some instances, students will be sent home to rectify their issues before they are able to return to the College.

Parenting Resources

Our Library Team have created a Parent Resources section to support parents and families. You can access this site via the Parent Library Guide tile on the SEQTA Welcome Page. Click on the tile, enter the following password when requested: SCCparentresources. Click on the “Available Titles” bar to see the list of titles available.

Ash Wednesday

Wednesday 14 February marks Ash Wednesday and the commencement of the season of Lent. Lent is a special time in the Church’s liturgical calendar for reflection and action through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The College will mark Ash Wednesday with a liturgy in each House Group facilitated by the House Group Teacher. Students will be encouraged to consider how they can contribute to Project Compassion – our focus for almsgiving. They will also be challenged to consider what they could fast from. Last year we encouraged students (and adults) to think about how their technology use gets in the way of being fully present to their families, their studies, the goals they have set for themselves. We will encourage a similar focus this year.

Pope Francis speaks about Lent as a time to “pause in prayer, in order to receive the word of God, to pause like the Samaritan in the presence of a wounded brother or sister.” He goes on to say that prayer, fasting and almsgiving are part of a “movement of openness and self-emptying in which we cast out the idols that weigh us down, the attachments that imprison us.”

Lent is a time to consider these attachments that obscure our path to living fully human lives, as was embodied by Jesus throughout his ministry, and through his passion, death and resurrection.

CCTV Cameras

Over the recent Christmas and New Year break the College installed 31 CCTV cameras inside most of the College’s buildings (and the 2 lifts). In all areas where CCTV cameras are installed there is clear signage advising of their presence.

These cameras allow us to increase the security across the College, protect College assets, and as an added benefit, provide additional support for the wellbeing and safety of all members of the College community.

All students have been advised of these new CCTV cameras.


Welcome back! And to those who have just joined our community, a big warm welcome to St Columba’s College! Our school was founded 127 years ago by Sr Ursula Bruton to be a school educating young people in faith and strength (fidelis et fortis), under the guidance and love of the Religious Sisters of Charity. Our connection to the Sisters remains strong, and our work within Mary Aikenhead Ministries is punctuated by our service to others and of course, our love of God. Our values of Love, Truth, Compassion, Hope and Justice, stem from Scripture and guide us daily. Each year, we focus on a different value to deepen our understanding and shape our year. In 2024, we celebrate the value of Compassion. The word “compassion” comes from the latin “compassio” which means “to suffer with”. Perhaps the simplest act of compassion is the hug. It shows the other that you are here with them, suffering with them and you want to help. As we begin our new year together, we acknowledge that at different times throughout the year, we need to recognise that those on the journey with us may need our love, understanding and empathy so they feel they are not suffering alone. We pray;

Gracious God, as we embark on this new school year under the guiding light of the Sisters of Charity, Mary Aikenhead Ministries and the teachings of Christ, we come together in prayer for the Year of Compassion. We thank you for the blessing of new community members, students, and staff who enrich our school family.

Grant us the wisdom to recognise moments when our compassion is needed. Bless us with the gifts of understanding, empathy, and love, enabling us to walk alongside one another in times of joy and sorrow. May our actions reflect your compassionate nature, fostering a community of support, kindness, and unity.

Lord, we ask for strength to uphold the values of compassion in our daily interactions. May our school be a beacon of love, understanding, and empathy, reflecting the teachings of Christ. Bless our endeavours as we strive to suffer with each other, building a community that embodies your boundless love.

Mary Aikenhead… pray for us.


Notices from the Deputy Principal



Starting the school year has been exciting for some and daunting for others, whilst a mixture of the two encompassed my first day back at school. The Student Executive Team and I arrived at the college on Wednesday morning to partake in a Leadership day consisting of valuable training and planning time. As a team, we learnt about our college theme for 2024, compassion, and how not only we can show this as individuals, but also how we can encourage other people in our community to do the same. Simple acts such as smiling at other students in the hallways and saying good morning to teachers can sometimes have a big effect on changing one’s mood for the better.

We also participated in some team activities to further enhance our relationships with each other and reflected on our own selves in our own leadership journeys. We looked at ourselves at this current point in time and identified our strengths and challenges that we would like to work on throughout the year to develop our skills as leaders of the college. The end of the day provided us with an opportunity to organise upcoming events and write speeches for various assemblies coming up, such as our opening assembly that occurred on Monday the 5th of February.

We began this assembly by welcoming the girls back from what we hoped was a fantastic holiday and into an exciting but extremely busy year. The new Year 7 students were asked to stand to receive a blessing from the community and the girls were provided with many leadership updates from our Environment, Sports and Arts Captains. We were provided with an update on our new wellbeing dog Millie and how to care for and treat Millie with respect when she arrives at the college. The assembly concluded with the girls being encouraged to commit to one action of compassion – in line with our college theme for 2024, and write this act on a slip of paper to gain some of the first House points of the year.


Thank you to our committed Peer Support Leaders (PSL) who attended the College to support the newest members of our community, our Year 7 students, on their second orientation day. They assisted the staff extraordinarily well and provided moral and practical support to the students. The PSLs will continue to be buddies to the Year 7 students throughout semester 1.

PARENT EDUCATION PROGRAM: Breaking Point: Unpacking the crisis in youth mental health – Dr Justin Coulson

Dr Justin Coulson is Australia’s most trusted parenting expert and author.  He is the co-host of Channel Nine’s Parental Guidance and his Happy Families podcast is the #1 podcast in Australia for parenting and family issues.  Justin holds a PhD in Psychology and he and his wife Kylie are the parents of 6 daughters.

On Tuesday 27 February 2024, Dr Justin Coulson will be holding a one-off online event to unpack the crisis in youth mental health.  The session is aimed at parents as well as educators.

Justin is speaking about this because latest national statistics indicate that mental health challenges are at an all-time high in Australian children and youth. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders are wreaking havoc in our schools and families (not to mention the amplification of these challenges if your child is neuro-diverse). Suicide and self-harm are rising. And finding good help and the right support is increasingly challenging.  Our kids and our families are at breaking point. How do we know if our kids will be ok?  What can we do to support their mental health and resilience?  What’s going wrong, and how do we fix it?

This 60-minute webinar will cover:

  • The root causes behind the deteriorating state of mental health, and who (or what) is responsible
  • The tools you need to reverse this trend for your children
  • Science-backed, relationship-focused strategies to remedy school refusal
  • Realistic approaches for managing screen time in a way that protects your child’s wellbeing without completely alienating them from their peers
  • Creating margin in your home and family life to protect and promote mental wellness

This is an online Event for Australian Schools with Dr Justin Coulson and will be held on Tuesday 27 February 2024 at 7:00pm.

More details about how you can connect to be part of this great webinar will follow soon.


We are incredibly fortunate because we will be hosting Dr Justin Coulson at St. Columba’s College on Thursday 30 May – be sure to save this date so that you can meet Justin in person.


Welcome back parents!

As we embark on a new school year filled with endless possibilities, excitement, and growth, the Parent Engagement Committee (PEC) extends a warm welcome to all of you.

Every parent in our community is a member of the PEC and we welcome your involvement. Here are the PEC meeting dates and events planned for 2024:

  • 13 February                                      Online
  • TBA                                                    Year 7 Meet & Greet
  • 12 March
  • 23 April
  • 14 May
  • Tuesday 21 May                               Male Mentor Night
  • 16 July
  • Saturday 31 August                         Trivia Night
  • 20 August
  • 17 September
  • 15 October
  • Friday 15 November                        Yr 7 Parents’ Welcome
  • 19 November

This year, we are dedicated to fostering a supportive and inclusive community where every parent feels empowered and engaged in their child’s life at St Columba’s College.

Along with volunteering opportunities, we have an array of great events planned to enhance our collaboration and support your involvement in school life.

We encourage you to stay connected, share your ideas, and actively participate in the various events and activities throughout the year. Your contributions make a significant difference and help create a vibrant and thriving school community.

If anyone is interested in joining the PEC or learning more about what we do, our first meeting is on Tuesday, 13 February (online – 7.30pm –

Keep an eye out for our 2024 Calendar of Events in the next IONA.

If you have any questions or feedback for the PEC, please contact us at

Warm regards,

Tracey Cotroneo
Parent Engagement Committee Co-President

Learning and Teaching at St Columba’s College

Learning is a core value of the College and is viewed as the central activity of all individuals in our community.  As a community, we are committed to excellence, innovation, collaboration and continuous improvement because we believe that every student is capable of learning if they are motivated and engaged.  

Our Learning and Teaching charter states, “In our work with students, we, as teachers at St Columba’s College, use strategies that reflect accepted good practice for the 21st century. By placing the child at the centre of our teaching, we see them and listen to them, as important citizens of the future. We believe that all children can, and have the right to, learn”.  In valuing learning at St Columba’s College, we challenge our students to achieve their personal best and aim to develop independent and critical thinkers. 


As a learning community, we value the support parents and guardians provide in the growth of each student.  Over the year, you will receive real-time feedback via SEQTA from your child’s subject teachers outlining your child’s progress in each of the subject areas.  I encourage you to open the lines of communication with your child’s subject teachers to support your child with well-targeted learning opportunities. The Parent Teacher Interviews held in May will also provide an opportunity to connect in the three-way learning relationship between students, parents/guardians, and teachers to support the full flourishing of your child.

This year the Year 7-12 Parent Teacher Interviews will be held on: 

  • Wednesday 1 May 3:30 pm -7:30 pm
  • Thursday 2 May 9:00 am -3:10 pm (Self-directed learning day for students)
  • Tuesday 7 May 3:30 pm -7:30 pm
  • Wednesday 8 May 9:00 am -3:10 pm (Self-directed learning day for students)

Further details will be provided with the release of the Year 7-12 Progress Reports on Monday 25 March.

In SEQTA Engage you will find access to a number of Learning and Teaching policies for your reference. 

  • The 2024 Assessment and Reporting guidelines for students 
  • Learning, Teaching and Wellbeing Framework 
  • Learn Instructional Model
  • Learning Dispositions 

The Learning, Teaching and Wellbeing framework has been specifically developed for our community to support building a positive and inclusive learning environment through explicit teaching, evidence-informed practices and active participation. Your child will also receive a copy of the framework and the guidelines.

Welcome to our new Speech Pathologist

We welcome St Columba’s alumnae member, Janine Elias as a Speech Pathologist to our Learning Diversity team.

Speech Pathologists play a crucial role in schools by providing support to students with speech, language and communication challenges. We work with children and young adults who may be experiencing difficulties understanding what they have read, learning new vocabulary, expressing their ideas and/or understanding theirs and others’ communication styles. Speech Pathologists are uniquely positioned in high schools to support students in various ways including individual and group skill development, assessment, transition planning, self-advocacy and education. We work collaboratively with students, families and school staff to ensure that students receive appropriate adjustments and accommodations, creating an inclusive, supportive environment where every student feels as though they can reach their full potential both academically and socially. I am excited to be returning to St. Columba’s College as part of the learning diversity team and am looking forward to connecting with students, families and staff. 

Sports 2024

This year we are once again looking forward to a calendar-full of Sporting activities.  The google sign up form has been sent to all students to provide their interest in sport for the year.  If you would like to access this information about training and competition dates and times this is available through the student SEQTA page, under the co-curricular tab at the top of the page.  This page includes a sports calendar plus a sign up icon that has all the information you need.  Face to face sign ups are also held during the year for any student who decides that they would like to participate.
We start the year with our annual tennis tournament – the Nunan Cup, being held over two separate nights with one being for juniors (15 February) and the other being intermediates and seniors (22 February).  Swimming training starts next Monday and continues for four weeks leading up to the CGSAV Competition on 6 March.  We then move onto basketball and hockey training for competitions in term 2.
There are two whole school events this term, the Multi Sports Day and the Athletics Carnival.  Please keep an eye out for the Consent2Go invitation for each event giving you all the information you should require.  Should you have any sports questions feel free to contact the Sports Administrator, Ms Shellie Murton via

Music Program at St Columba's College

All private Music and Speech lessons and ensemble rehearsals began last week.

Students enrolled in private lessons and participating in ensembles, are expected to check their timetable on SEQTA so that they are aware of lesson and/or rehearsal times throughout the week.
All private lessons are scheduled on a rotating basis during school hours with some exceptions applied to VCE students. For students who are interested, but have yet to enrol into private music and speech lessons, it is never too late to do so. If you require an enrolment form for private lessons, please contact Front Reception or the Performing Arts office (N106).
Alternatively, you can find digital forms on SEQTA Parent portal.
Below is the Music and Drama ensemble schedule throughout the week:
Ensembles marked with # are auditioned ensembles, which have specific requirements. Please enquire at the Performing Arts office in the Nicholson building.
All students are welcomed to attend Percussion Ensemble, Junior Choir (Year 7 to 9 students), Senior Choir (Year 10 to 12 students) and Drama Club. No prior experience is required.
All further enquiries, please contact Ms Lai or Ms McCaskill (Performing Arts Administrator) directly.

Welcome to Year 7 English

Welcome to Year 7 English at St Columba’s College!
Year 7 students and their teachers have begun 2024 with great enthusiasm. In the spirit of fostering this enthusiasm for English learning, the Year 7 English teachers and support staff have prepared this welcome document to inform students and families of the year ahead.  This will also be sent home via SEQTA Direqt Message to all Year 7 families. We look forward to the year ahead with all Year 7 students.

Neurospicy Tips and Tricks - #1 Homework Systems

Link to full article

Article is derived from  Chris A. Zeigler Dendy, M.S.Verified. Updated on September 7, 2022.

For students with ADHD and ASD, consistency and routine is key when it comes to handing in homework on time. Here are some possible solutions and tips for succeeding with the dreaded homework debate at home:

Visuals and colour:  Colour-coded folders for all completed work that correlate with matching colour-coded folders for each subject, clearly labelled.They can check to make sure homework completed, is put in the appropriate folder, and is packed in their bag for the next day.Establish a Routine: Together, set a homework schedule that incorporates family, personal time and extracurricular activities. Include start and finish times for all activities including homework and revision time. Make the schedule visible for everyone to see- and accountable!
Checklists: Use a checklist that lists up to 3-5 tasks to be completed each night. Include a suggested timeframe to complete the task. Tick it off each task as they are completed. It is incredibly satisfying collecting ticks and a natural way to boost dopamine!Visible Timers:  Use online timers to help stick to time. Schedule a five-minute break for every 20 minutes of work. Short, frequent breaks help young people with ADHD recharge. 
Respect your child’s “saturation point.”: If they are too frustrated or exhausted to finish their homework, encourage them to have a break. Encourage your child to communicate with their teacher, explaining any difficulties they are facing and coming up with possible solutions (before the task is due). Recording: Encourage your child to write every assignment in his daily planner. eg. record your homework and assignments on 3 x 5 cards, pre-printed with the names of each subject. Remind your child to regularly check SEQTA to ensure they haven’t missed anything. 
Be their Champion: Explicitly offer lots of praise when they are showing positive and helpful learning behaviour. Eg “ I can see how you persisted with that challenging maths problem, that looked really tricky”, “I noticed how quickly you started your homework today, you are setting yourself up for success!”The Right Environment: Finding a quiet, uncluttered location that has good lighting and a clear work space with access to paper, pencils, and a computer. Have everything ready to go. This will prevent unexpected side quests and TV distractions. 

Moonee Valley Teens Dinner

Year 7 2026


Our Term 2 & 3 College tours for Year 7 2026 are now open.

Book your place here.

Application for Enrolment

Applications for Enrolment for Year 7 2026 are now open, click here to apply.

Key Enrolment Dates

The following key dates relate to entry into Year 7 2026:

  • Applications for Enrolment close – Friday 16 August 2024
  • Offers of Enrolment will be emailed out on – Friday 18 October 2024
  • Offers of Enrolment to be accepted/declined by – Friday 8 November 2024

Important Dates

Wednesday 14 February – Ash Wednesday

Thursday 15 February – College Opening Mass and High Achievers Assembly

Friday 16 February – Fiontar Excursions

Monday 19 February – Year 11 & 12 VM Day Camp and Student Leadership Training Day

Tuesday 20 February – Multi Sports Sign Up, Photo Retake, Fiontar Excursions and Year 12 Police Talk

Wednesday 21 February – Year 9 English Incursion

Thursday 22 February – Nunan Cup Inters and Seniors

Monday 26 February – 9.1 Urban Experience Commences