This is a momentous week in the history of De La Salle College. After more than a year of negotiations, planning and preparations, I am now in a position to formally announce De La Salle College has taken over the lease of the former Holy Eucharist Primary School, Malvern East. In January 2019 this will become our Year 9 Campus.
With a raft of innovative plans and programs coming to fruition, the current climate is one of progression, development, innovation and working towards excellence in all areas of the College. Our goal, our vision, is to build on our traditions and all the strengths which have made De La Salle a great school for 106 years. We work with our families and our Lasallian community to achieve this and provide a unique education which suits our young men.
As negotiations between the various stakeholders became increasingly positive in recent months, raising the likelihood of our proposal coming to fruition, our preparations have been developing. This has included:
- assembling a team of teachers committed to the new venture;
- building a leadership team for the campus;
- planning a new and innovative curriculum; and
- arranging refurbishment works to reimagine Holy Eucharist as an exciting and engaging, contemporary space for our Year 9s.
Industry is increasingly requiring employees who demonstrate new skills such as critical thinking, creativity, metacognition, problem‐solving, collaboration, motivation, self‐efficacy, and perseverance. We are committed to the design and delivery of education programs and assessment regimes that address the development of such skills in young people. These programs must acknowledge and support the various stages of social, emotional and physiological development of young men moving through adolescence.
In 2014, De La Salle College convened a Working Group of interested staff to review the arrangements at Year 9. Over four years the group has undertaken extensive research of the current academic literature as well as conducted visits to a range of schools with successful Year 9 programs. What the group concluded was that Year 9 at De La Salle College would benefit greatly from change, supported by the many anecdotal reports from staff about issues with student engagement at that year level. A proposal emerged from this work, detailing the introduction of new elements to Year 9.
A Mission Statement for Year 9 was crafted:
The Year 9 program at De La Salle College is designed to be authentic, meaningful, purposeful and distinctive to Year 9 students.
Through collaboration and inquiry, they lead their own learning.
The Working Group also formulated six proposals for the shaping of a new Year 9 program, to be implemented progressively over three years. At this point in time, Stages 1, 2 and 3 of the College’s In9uiry Program have been successfully implemented. The sixth and final stage articulated the need for the acquisition of a site dedicated to Year 9, something that has been woven into the subsequent design of the College’s Master Plan.
It had become clear in investigations of other schools’ Year 9 programs that sites that have some operational autonomy are most successful in providing a customised program for Year 9 students. Two key factors contribute to this – a site that is staffed by teachers committed to Year 9 students and a timetable that is unconstrained by the limitations necessarily imposed by a timetable requiring integration with a Year 7–12 timetable.
The College has been active in investigating possible locations, with the Holy Eucharist site emerging as the most attractive among several other identified locations. Important considerations in assessing possible Year 9 sites have been proximity to the main sites in Malvern, accessibility to public transport, suitability of building stock, recreation space and scope for improvement works, among others. There is very strong stakeholder support and excitement about this proposal coming to fruition. This has been formed through consultation with staff, parents and students. These stakeholders conveyed via a recent survey that a bold step such as the creation of a new site for the College’s Year 9 students represents a necessary step in the further improvement and competitiveness of the College moving into the future.
Significant works are beginning next week to bring the property up to the standard expected of and required for a contemporary 21st century learning environment. It is imperative for our students, staff and parents that our Year 9 Campus presents as a clean, bright, inviting, modern and engaging learning environment. It will be fitted out via the planned refurbishment works to represent a contemporary image, equipped with the facilities and resources to support our innovative curriculum.
All College staff and Board Directors are thrilled that the research, planning, hard work and negotiations have paid off and led to this announcement. The initiative has always been about providing an enhanced experience for our Year 9s and now we are in a position to deliver. Depending on the refurbishment project’s timeline, we hope to invite Year 9 families to an Open Evening at a renovated Holy Eucharist site in late November. This move will also enable us to create more space on the Tiverton site, which we will now plan in more detail.
I would also like to convey my heartfelt thanks to all those individuals and teams who have invested so much time, strategy and energy into this exciting initiative. I look forward to working with all in our community on this terrific project, as the vision for De La Salle College – Holy Eucharist Campus becomes a reality.
Annual Music Concert
I would like to acknowledge the excellent work of all in the Music Learning Area for a simply outstanding concert last week. I said to the audience at the end of the night the annual concert improves in quality each year and I believe this was the best I have seen in my five years. The sheer quality of the students’ playing and singing, the variety of style, sound and genre, the obvious delight the boys took in performing and doing so well in front of friends and family were all highlights.
Fletcher Bird, 2018 Music Captain did a great job as MC and really grew in confidence as the night unfolded. The Junior Band, Stage Band, string, brass, percussion and guitar ensembles were of the highest standard, the increasingly popular choir sang beautifully and indeed all the pieces on a very full program were terrific to watch and listen to.
The relationship between the students and their dedicated teachers is increasingly a feature in the night at these concerts. With an obvious sense of camaraderie, belonging and inclusivity among the many, many students involved, the benefits of their participation in the arts extends well beyond rehearsing and performing.
A big thank you to Music Coordinator, Ms Cindy Frost, for her tremendous dedication to the cause, (after performing with Ms Kelly Williams at the Rheims Centre for Science and Technology Opening, going on to sing at the funeral of the mother of College Chaplain, Mrs Joan’s Ferguson and then rehearsing all afternoon) and of course the wonderful Music staff – Ms Kelly Williams, Mr Jaymee Lee, Mr Paul Coyle, Mr David Reichman, Mr Matt Lewin, Ms Penny Karahalios, Ms Serena Thean, Ms Hannah Trewartha, Mr Jarrod McCluskey and Mr Frank Fabris. Thank you and well done to all concerned.
If at all possible, I would encourage you to attend our annual Christmas concert in December, where the music team always put on a great show. In what is usually a hectic week, it’s really worth coming to — terrific fun each year!
Mr Peter Houlihan