St Francis Xavier College St Francis Xavier College St Francis Xavier College St Francis Xavier College St Francis Xavier College St Francis Xavier College St Francis Xavier College

Community News – 21 February 2019


Multicultural Information Evening 

March 19 2019, 7.00pm – 8.30pm

Officer Campus LRC

For families from all three of our Campuses



The Brett Lee Internet Safe Education Parent Night


VCAL – Structured Workplace Learning

We have approximately 170 Intermediate and Senior VCAL students looking to complete 100 hours of Structured Workplace Learning (SWL). SWL is on-the-job training that allows school students to develop their work skills and understand employer expectations.  

During training each student is expected to master a set of skills or competencies related to their VET program. Host employers supervise and instruct the students as they practise and extend the industry skills they have learned in their VET studies. At St Francis Xavier College, the South East LLEN supports student work placements in the local government areas of Casey, Cardinia and Greater Dandenong. Your son/daughter has access to the SWL Portal in order to research potential employers.

Structured Workplace Learning dates are:

June 3 to 17

September 9 to20

November 7 to 15


Parents, please actively involve yourself is this compulsory portion of the VCAL program. You can do this by visiting the portal with your son/daughter and assisting them to secure a placement. Finally, if  as an employer you can support our VCAL students by offering a placement opportunity please contact Jan Rankins, Kerry Little or Vera Treloar By working together we can facilitate a positive learning experience for all.


During the VCAL Information Evening on Monday we were fortunate enough to hear from Lorraine Lee and her daughter Georgia (class of 2018). I am sure you will find her parent reflection interesting.


Hi, my name is Lorraine Lee and I am the parent of a child who completed the VCAL program last year.

When we started with St Francis Xavier, we had every intention of our daughter, Georgia undertaking VCE. We thought that having a VCE ATAR score would be the best option for Georgia and she decided to start early and took on a VCE subject in year 10. Halfway through the year, it became obvious that she wasn’t coping with the VCE structure. She was really distressed and we were really concerned.  We had long discussions together with Georgia and her teachers together, we decided the VCAL program may be a good option for Georgia. 

My husband and I were concerned that maybe this option would be limiting Georgia’s future choices. She had always wanted to be a midwife and we knew she needed to go to University for this. The VCAL program offers many different courses and Georgia decided to look at the Health Services course as this seemed to be in the field of her career choice.  After we investigated this course, we realised that this could lead Georgia into a diploma and potentially open a pathway into 2nd year university.  An added benefit was that with her diploma, she could work as an orderly in a hospital whilst she undertook her university degree.  It was exciting to see that Georgia could still achieve her goals using the VCAL program.  The Health Services program was a two-year program that would cross both Years 11 and 12. 

We did notice a difference with the levels of homework.  There was a change in the amount of regular homework she had and the type of homework she was undertaking.  A lot came directly from TAFE and she was very busy with all the projects the VCAL program was introducing her to.

Work Placements are essential to give the kids an opportunity to practice their skills in a working environment.  Real life experiences.  It can be hard to find options however and I encourage parents to start talking with their kids about options – it could be in places that may not directly apply to their chosen areas. For example – when Georgia was doing the health services course, she worked in a school – giving her experience with working with children.  She could also have considered working with the elderly – learning different skills for communicating with different age groups.  They have to complete 100 hours a year of work placement hours to pass.  We started asking our friends to consider taking on a work placement student – these kids are our future and we need to give them as many safe experiences as we can.

In Year 12, Georgia changed her plans.  The experience the health services course gave her made her realise she no longer wanted to work in the Health industry.   Once again, we were concerned as this was all she had ever wanted to do and now what?  We connected with the teachers again and together we tried to encourage Georgia to finish but Georgia was adamant.  Having this experience showed Georgia that she would not enjoy a career in health services.  Georgia decided she wanted to try hairdressing.  After much discussion with the teachers and Georgia, we agreed that in fact, now was probably the best time to find out that she wouldn’t be happy as a midwife and giving her an exposure to hairdressing would also help her decide if this was a career she would be happy with.   This is another benefit of VCAL – flexibility. She went ahead with the hairdressing course – and loved it!  She was even offered a hairdressing apprenticeship at the end of the 12-month program. 

Georgia decided that although she loved hairdressing, she no longer wanted to pursue this as a career.  We challenged her on this and asked her to think about her plans for post-high school.  We talked about what she most enjoyed about the VCAL program – and what stood out most for Georgia was the opportunities she was given to manage some projects for the various programs that were running under VCAL. 

One of the programs, required the students to learn about pitching a business idea and managing the business’ costs and revenues.  They had to market their businesses.   They learnt alot from these experiences – the value of money, how costly it is to run a business and how competitive it is to be successful.  They were given the platform to succeed and in some cases, even fail – and this was all in a safe learning zone. 

The more we talked about it, the more we realised that this experience gave her direction and she is now enrolled in a Diploma of Event Management and can apply for 2nd year university if she wants to pursue a university degree as well.

From my experience, communication is key – triangulate the communication between yourself, your child and the teachers.  The teachers have been a great support for us, and for Georgia.  The programs that VCAL ran – gave our kids an opportunity to think for themselves, make decisions, take risks and learn from the results.  The VCAL program gave Georgia the opportunity to explore her options. We were really happy with what the program did for Georgia and this year, when our son wanted to undertake the VCAL journey – we had no reservations!

The VCAL program has given our child a good grounding of business skills, an opportunity to explore options and the confidence to tread her own path.  Thank you to the VCAL team at St Francis Xavier for your support, guidance and encouragement!


Wellbeing for Learning

Parents as you are aware every student is participating in the Berry Street Education Model during their scheduled Wellbeing lessons. St Francis Xavier College is committed to teaching the skills of wellbeing. Please read the excerpt below by Professor Lea Waters.



by Professor Lea Waters (PhD)


Personality strengths – our character – play a big role in helping us build our talents. Think about anyone who has built a talent and imagine if it could have been done without character. Imagine Einstein without curiosity, The Beatles without creativity, Mother Teresa without compassion or Neil Armstrong without bravery.

Yet for decades, scientists were blind to character strength. We focused on talent, often on physical strength and skills. In fact, when I first ask young children what they think a strength is, they almost always point to their biceps or talk about being able to lift something heavy.

Once you get familiar with the language of strengths and a framework for seeing them, you’ll see character strengths easily in your child. In fact, you may find your child calls on their character strengths more often than on talent to meet life’s challenges.


Three key elements of a strength

You’ve probably seen a child joylessly perform at a piano recital. They may hit all the right keys, but there’s no energy or enthusiasm. It’s as if they don’t want to be there. On the flip side, we’ve seen the child onstage who’s clearly motivated and energised and who fearlessly flails through every mistake – of which there are many.

It turns out that three elements come together to form a strength. For purposes of strength-based parenting, we need to keep our eye on all three:

  1. Performance (being good at something).
    Watch for when your child shows above-age levels of achievement, rapid learning, and a repeated pattern of success.
  2. Energy (feeling good doing it)
    Strengths are self-reinforcing. The more we use them, the more we get from them. They fill us with vigour. You’ll notice your child has abundant energy when using a strength.
  3. High use (choosing to do it)
    Finally, look for what your child chooses to do in their spare time, how often they engage in a particular activity, and how they speak about that activity.

For true strengths, these three elements form a beautiful feedback loop: great performance provides the child with a shot of high energy, so the child naturally chooses to do more. In turn, high use – also known as effort or practice – improves performance levels. So, for example, if you notice that your child is energised when they play the piano, and you provide enjoyable opportunities for them to play, if they’re mining a true strength they will likely practise more, which improves their performance, which then energises them … and so the loop continues.

Keeping this triad in mind will help you avoid pushing your child into an area that seems like a strength just because your child is good at it. It will also help you differentiate between whether your child is bingeing on an activity in an escapist way or expressing a true strength.

For example, when a parent asks me, ‘My son is great at computer games and wants to play all the time. Is that a sign of a strength?’ I reply, ‘Observe his energy levels at the end. Is he drained and cranky? Or energised and full of life? Are you seeing the full triad?’ Computer games can tap into a child’s strategic and problem-solving skills or stimulate creativity (in some games, you invent whole new worlds). Or they might just be about filling time.

So look for all three signs. When you see your child do something well, with energy, and repeatedly, you’ll know you’ve unearthed a strength.

Professor Lea Waters (PhD)


Lea is the best-selling author of The Strength Switch, the President of the International Positive Psychology Association, and the founding director of the Positive Psychology Centre at the University of Melbourne. For further details, visit


Dr Justin Coulson is one of very few people in Australia with a PhD in Positive Psychology – and the ONLY person in the country (and almost the world) whose PhD includes a careful look at the intersection of Positive Psychology and relationships, particularly in family life.


In addition, you are warmly invited to hear Dr Justin Coulson on Wednesday 3 April at 7.00pm in the Beaconsfield Campus Hall.


School Icon

Upcoming Events

Head of Campus Talk & Tours

Tuesday 16th May 2023 , 9.30am

Latest News

A message from Bishop Greg Bennet for 2021

Belgrave South Church shares our Motto

College DUX 2020

PAM Login