At the end of what has been another term mostly undertaken in remote conditions, I would like to thank staff, students and their families for your efforts. I know at times you must all feel overwhelmed and exhausted, but I say thank you. Thank you for the patience you have all shown, the compassion, understanding and kindness.

I mentioned to staff earlier in the week how proud I have felt that despite the adversity we have managed to pivot the organisation using many online tools, strategies and platforms that we had begun to explore. I applaud their efforts, but I also thank and acknowledge all the students, and their families, who joined ‘meets’ and made the most of the opportunities presented. They completed art projects, played musical instruments, undertook physical challenges and, of course, engaged in all the learning tasks set by their teachers. The significance of this should not be underestimated.

Year 12 Practice Exams

Year 12 Practice Exams are scheduled for the second week of the holidays namely Monday, 28 September to Thursday, 1 October.  The Year 12 Practice exams are to be completed remotely by students at home and the exams were mailed last Friday to students to complete.  The Year 12 students will complete a Pastoral session this Friday, 18 September to develop their own study timeline for the holiday period. These exams are compulsory for all students completing a scored Units 3 & 4 sequence and provide the opportunity for students to receive feedback about how they are going with their studies so far.  It also enables students to identify their own areas of strength and weaknesses which can focus their study for the remaining time prior to the commencement of the end of year written exams.                                                                           

VCE Units 3 and 4

Practice Exams Timetable 2020      

Venues:  HOME


Term 4 Arrangements

Week 1 (Week beginning 5 October)

VCE, VET and VCAL students can attend onsite for essential assessments during this week. The General Achievement Test (GAT) will be held for all students undertaking a VCE Unit 3/4 subject from 10.00am to 1.15 pm on Wednesday 7 October. Apart from the Wednesday when the GAT is held remote, online and flexible learning will continue for all students in the first week of Term 4. Onsite supervision for children of permitted workers and vulnerable students will continue to be provided, consistent with existing guidelines.

Week 2 (Week beginning 12 October)

Year 11 and 12 students will attend on-site schooling full time, and Year 10 students enrolled in a VCE, VET or VCAL program will attend onsite for these classes. Remote and flexible learning will continue for all students in Year 7 to Year 10, other than for children of permitted workers and vulnerable students.

Week 4 (Week beginning 26 October) – dates to be confirmed, subject to health advice possible date for the return of all year levels to face-to-face learning – subject to further health advice.

Year 7 Enrolments 2022

A reminder to all of our existing families that Year 7 enrolments for 2022 close on Friday, 9 October.  A number of families applied after the close of enrolment last year and it makes it very difficult to accurately plan for the following year, so I ask that you submit your enrolment as soon as possible.  Often families assume that we know that there is a younger sibling, but I would be very disappointed if one of our existing families missed out on an enrolment due to not submitting their enrolment in a timely manner.

Parent Teacher Student Partnership Meetings – Thursday 8 October

Our next round of Parent Student Teacher Partnership meetings take place on Thursday, 8 October from 1.00p.m. – 8.30p.m. via Microsoft Teams. Parents will book their appointments through MyPenola by clicking on the PTSPM bookings Tile. Due to the fact that the interviews commence earlier, work will be set remotely for the students but teaching staff will not be monitoring these classes due to the Parent Teacher Student interviews.  In essence, teachers will set work for the Thursday, but students will work independently on this day.  This will free up staff to complete the Parent Teacher Student Partnership meetings.  The timeline for the day will be

Session 1                                    1.00p.m. – 3.20p.m.

Afternoon Tea break                   3.20p.m. – 3.40p.m.

Session 2                                   3.40p.m. – 5.40p.m.

Tea break                                  5.40p.m. – 6.30p.m.

Session 3                                   6.30p.m. – 8.30p.m.

Parent Teacher Student Partnership Meetings will open on Wednesday,

30 September at noon.  We have provided additional time slots so that more appointments are available with staff.

Year 12 Graduation

In light of current COVID-19 restrictions it seems quite unlikely that 1000 people are going to be able to gather collectively to celebrate our Graduation Mass and Graduation Dinner. As such we have come up with alternatives so that we can formally recognise this significant milestone for our current Year 12 students. This will take place in the first week in December once Year 12 exams have concluded (most likely Thursday, 3 December and Friday, 4 December).  In essence we are planning to conduct some form of liturgy and graduation ceremony for each homeroom which will be livestreamed to enable peers, staff and our wider community to be involved in the process.  Obviously, it will be in line with any restrictions that are in place at that particular time to ensure the safety of all involved.  We have a number of different plans depending upon the restrictions that are in place at that particular time.

A survey will be sent out to Year 12 families to determine whether the Graduation Dinner is postponed until February 2021 or cancelled altogether.  We will also be seeking feedback about the times that would suit families best for Graduation to inform our decision making with regards to the scheduling of the Graduation ceremonies and liturgies for each homeroom.

Years 11 & 12 Practical Assessments (Students coming onsite)

Listed below is a schedule for Years 11 & 12 students to come onsite to complete essential assessments for their VCE and/or VET programs. The VCAA can confirm that the Stay at Home Directions1 (the Directions) across Victoria enable:

  • students to leave their premises to undertake essential VCE and VCAL assessments onsite,
  • a school or other educational facility or institution to operate for the purposes of providing those services to those students, where it is ‘not reasonably practicable for those assessment to be undertaken’ from the student’s home, and
  • education staff can leave their premises to undertake support for the delivery of mandatory VCE and VCAL assessments onsite.

If parents require a permit for travel to drop their son or daughter at the College for any of these sessions, please email me at and I will attach a permit in a return email.  The permit allows you to legally travel to and from the school in the event that you are stopped by Victoria Police.

Students will report to Reception upon arrival at the Broadmeadows campus where they will sign in and be temperature tested.

Family School Partnerships

The evidence clearly supports the theory that those parents who are engaged in their child’s learning assist their children in achieving the best outcomes.  It also suggests students who get the most out of schools such as Penola Catholic College are those who enthusiastically embrace the educational, cultural, sporting and social justice offerings available. One of my starting points for my discussion is the critical way the partnership between family and school develops – and over time, has a quantum impact on the education of the students. I regularly make the point that school and family must work in close alignment with one another.

The things we do at school are strengthened if they are in sync with the things that occur at home; and here, I particularly discuss the vital importance of developing these right from the beginning, good home study habits, as well as the appropriate and safe use of ICT. For example, I make the point that the application of home study in the junior years can be a bit controversial. In one sense, home study can be a fairly ineffectual activity, in as much that it does not greatly impact on the day to day learning of the students – that is, until they reach senior school. However, in another sense home study is a remarkably valuable activity because of the way effective, productive habits are formed through its regular application. What home study achieves at an early age, is the forming of patterns of behaviour, among them the crucial participation of parents in their learning which reinforces that school and home ‘are one’. But as well as this, learning regularity, self-discipline and steady application become acquired skills that translate into embedded habits for later years.

We have a very strong commitment to developing learning programs that are highly engaging for students and call them to have levels of independence, creativity and critical thinking that expand their mental capacities in all sorts of ways. But there is another side to learning which was once a highly prized dimension of learning but now might be viewed as the poor cousin to this more attractive part of our educational endeavors; and that part of learning is, the steady development of skills and habits of both mind and body. These are capabilities that are slowly absorbed and accrue to develop and deepen the capacity of the students in later years, and for life

Staff who choose to work in Catholic schools often make a conscious choice to work in this environment.  It is often said that teaching is a vocation which requires equal measures of faith, patience and perseverance.  The reasons why people choose to work within Catholic education are many and varied but I am sure that the Holy Spirit is involved in some of these decisions.  Working in a Catholic school presents many challenges but also many rewards.

When speaking with prospective staff members, one of the first questions that I ask is why have you chosen to apply for a position at Penola?  This is generally followed by another question such as what does it mean to support the Catholic ethos of a school?

When listening to the responses, I am seeking to get an understanding of the motivations of the prospective staff member as well as the role that faith plays in their own life.  Parents are the primary educators of each child’s faith, but we recognise that within Catholic schools a key role is to help support the students in their own faith journeys. Therefore, the questions about support of the Catholic ethos go to the heart of whether the person applying for the job is aware of the importance of faith development in our students and, more importantly, in their willingness to provide support in this area.


A key element in helping your child to succeed at the College is communication between you and your child’s teachers. While the student diary is the primary means of communication between teachers and families, we also encourage other means of communication.  The email addresses of all staff at the College is the first initial of the Christian name followed by their surname  For example Mrs Evelyn Assaad.  Evelyn’s email address is .

We hope that this will further facilitate our ability to work closely with you in catering for the welfare and educational needs of your child.  Your child’s Homeroom teacher should be the first port of call for any enquiries with the school.  Please feel free to make contact with me if you have concerns that are unable to be resolved by your child’s Homeroom teacher, subject teacher, Year Level Coordinators or Head of Campus.

I would like to leave you with a poem that has been attributed to Mother Teresa that speaks of the essence of her as a person and is particularly relevant to us all:

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.