2018 Annual Report for St Joseph's School, Atherton
Motto Love, Faith, Knowledge St-Joseph_s-Atherton-Logo-col.jpg
Address Cnr Jack and Alice Streets, ATHERTON QLD 4883
Postal Address PO Box 829, ATHERTON QLD 4883
Phone Number (07) 4091 4211
Fax Number (07) 4091 4214
Email Address
Web Site
Total Enrolments 258 Ms Donna Maxsted
Year Levels Offered P-6
Student Population Co-Educational
Principal Ms Donna Maxsted
Parish PriestRev Dr Barry Craig PP
Parish Number (07) 4091 1125

About our School

St Joseph's School is an integral part of the Cairns Diocese and the Atherton Catholic Parish. Located approximately one and a quarter hour's drive from Cairns, Atherton sits within the heart of the naturally beautiful and agriculturally rich Atherton Tablelands. Atherton has a rich history revolving around timber, farming and mining and a strong association with Chinese and European settlers with a Chinese Temple still existing at Atherton. The local indigenous Yidinji people have significant landforms surrounding Atherton and connection with the elders of these people was made during developing the school's history outline. Students are drawn to St Joseph's from a number of smaller towns surrounding Atherton such as Herberton, Yungaburra, Tolga, Malanda and Walkamin.

The school was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1923 and following the tradition of the Mercy Sisters, we recognise the importance of education as a crucial way for children to reach their potential. The first lay teacher began in 1966 and the first lay principal was appointed in 1986. Today the school is staffed by a strong group of dedicated teachers and school officers who continue the mission of Catholic Education begun so many years ago by the Sisters of Mercy.

St Joseph's School is a Catholic school, and today operates with 12 classes comprising dual stream from Prep to Year 4 and single stream classes in Years 5 and 6. The school has experienced growth over the last three years with numbers exploding from 220 to over 260 students. The school is an integral part of the Parish of St Joseph's, Atherton, and a close relationship exists between the parish and the school.

Despite changes over the years in response to the changing needs of our families and society, St Joseph's School has remained committed to providing its students with a well-balanced and relevant education and curriculum. Interactive whiteboards are currently installed in all classrooms and several banks of laptops, i-pads and Chromebooks may be borrowed to use as tools within learning and teaching. A newly established Arts and Technology program incorporates the ideology of STEAM and utilises a variety of interactive devices.

St Joseph's is a welcoming community where parents/carers are encouraged to become actively involved in various dimensions of school life. Our students enjoy the benefits of a dedicated and committed group of parents who work together with the school staff in providing the best educational environment we can. There is such a diversity of avenues for parent involvement that almost any gift or talent a parent may have can be a blessing for our school. St Joseph's is blessed to have a skilled staff who commit themselves to being nurturers of the faith as part of their role as Catholic Educators.

Characteristics of Student Body

  •  Student Enrolment - 258 (139 Boys and 119 Girls)
  • Class Structure - 10 double streams and 2 single streams
  • Verified students - 9
  • Indigenous - 13
  • NCCD - 27
  • Catholicity - 52%
  • Attendance - 82% of students had attendance levels of 90% or above

School Annual Improvement

Priority 1: Enhancing Catholic School Identity

During 2018, St Joseph's School engaged in a process of reviewing and redeveloping our school's Vision and Mission statements, clearly articulating our commitment as a school community to high levels of learning and well being for all in a nurturing, collaborative and dynamic, Christ-centred environment.  Staff also engaged in professional learning opportunities to further develop our understanding of the Mercy charism of our founding order.  This will be an ongoing project to immerse the whole of the school community in living out our school's charism through word and action.  We also updated our school's logo as part of the review process.

Pastoral well being of students was also a focus for students in 2018.  Professional learning, facilitated by the school's Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Co-ordinator was provided to staff in the Second Step Social Emotional Learning Program.  She also provided ongoing professional support to staff to support the implementation of the program and significant funding was provided to purchase additional resources to support the program.  Other professional development to support the social emotional needs of our students included three staff members attending four days of training in the Berry Street Education Model (Trauma Informed Positive Behaviour Strategies).

During Term 4, staff also began implementing the Zones of Regulation program across the school with the support of the school's counsellor. Other well being initiatives in the school included activities centred around the Wheel of Well Being during Health and Well Being Week.  The P&F applied for funding to host these activities in conjunction with Centrecare and Tablelands Regional Council and provided fridge posters for families promoting the Wheel of Well Being and Zones of Regulation.

Priority 2: Staff upskilling in analysing data with respect to diversity and developing appropriate curriculum planning for diversity.

During 2018, St Joseph's School developed a schedule of staff meetings and Professional Learning Team meetings which specifically focused on strategically responding to our identified student needs. Specialist facilitators including members of staff, visiting therapists and CES personnel were booked accordingly.  Areas of focus included upskilling staff for effective differentiation and teaching literacy through the systematic collection and analysis of standardised and diagnostic assessment data.  While staff meetings provided the theoretical and practical knowledge and understanding of data collection, weekly Professional Learning Team meetings were integral to the ongoing analysis of students' learning needs and subsequent planning for differentiation across the school, particularly in the areas of reading, writing and spelling.

Staff also receive significant training in the collection of data to support the National Consistent Collection of Data for students with a disability.  Teachers were better able to identify students with a disability and to then document and implement adjustments which were being made to provide students with equitable access to learning and teaching.

Priority 3: Improving student outcomes in literacy

St Joseph's literacy focus for 2018 was writing, particularly improving spelling.  All staff were in-serviced in the use of the "Words Their Way" Spelling program and spelling was a key focus of Professional Learning Team meetings during the year as teachers shared best practice and discussed targeted intervention strategies in their teaching of spelling.  Prep to Year 3 teachers also received professional development to support the teaching of Phonics and Grammar through the implementation of Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar. 

Prep to Year 3 teachers also received training in the Reading to Learn program in Term 4 to support the teaching of writing across the curriculum.  Reading to Learn focuses on the reciprocal nature of the teaching of reading and writing.  Quality pieces of writing are studied at a whole of text level, sentence level and word level, integrating the study of text structures, vocabulary, spelling, punctuation and grammar along with comprehension of the texts presented.  Deconstruction of the text then provides students with a model to reconstruct their own texts.  This program will be extended to the senior school in 2019.

Provision of additional facilities.

While not identified in the 2018 School Annual Plan, additional classrooms, including a specialist STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) Room and new tuckshop were completed in Term 1 and classes began in these new facilities at the start of Term 2.  The Prep playground was also refurbished and expanded in size in 2018.  The additional play space and upgraded facilities allowed the inclusion of Year 1 students in this play area, providing much needed additional playground resources.  Additional play equipment was also purchased for the junior school.  Playground resources will continue to be built upon in 2019.

Distinctive Curriculum Offerings

The School offers students a sound academic education in all key learning areas including Religious Education. Social and Emotional Learning is an important part of daily class lessons. St Joseph's School uses the Second Step program and also initiated Zones of Regulation in Term 4.  In 2018, students from Prep to Year 6 had specialist lessons in Health and Physical Education while Italian Language was offered in Years 4 to 6. A specialist teacher taught STEAM classes across the school, focusing on Technology and the Arts in Years 1 to 3 and the Arts in Years 4 to 6.
A number of our students participated in the Instrumental Music Program and others had private piano tuition based at the school.

Extra Curricular Activities

 These include:

  • Mini Vinnies
  • Choir
  • Representative Sport
  • Readers' Cup
  • Premier's Reading Challenge
  • Instrumental Program
  • Piano Tuition (external provider)
  • Italian Competition
  • ANZAC Day
  • Maize Festival
  • Arts Council Performances
  • World of Maths
  • Just Leaders Day
  • Missions
  • Art Club
  • Homework Club

Social Climate

St Joseph's School is a friendly and supportive school community where parents and staff work together to provide a safe, progressive and enjoyable environment for students. Wellbeing is an important factor for all students at the school and social emotional learning permeates all aspects of the curriculum.  In 2018, the school had a full time and a part time Learning Support Teacher, a School Counsellor 3 days a week, and several School Officers who supported integration, classroom and diverse needs programs.  The school also enjoyed the support of visiting therapists including, an Occupational Therapist, Speech Pathologist, Psychologist and various advisory visiting teachers who supported students with specifically identified individual educational needs.


Parent Engagement

St Joseph's School has an active Parents and Friends Association (P&F). Their priority is building positive home/school relationships and supporting positive engagement in education.  Their major fundraiser for the year is the St Joseph's Debutante Ball which is well supported by the community. They have also been actively involved in promoting the Health and Wellbeing of students through organising activities during Health and Wellbeing Week, printing and disseminating fridge posters (Wheel of Wellbeing and Zones of Regulation) to all families, and developing positive mindsets through murals painted around the school.

The school is involved in parish life through the Pastoral Council and Finance Committee as well as through Sacramental Programs, and regular liturgies (whole school and class). Other community involvement includes: Curriculum Information Sessions (Reading and Writing), Assemblies, Parental involvement in classrooms, Excursions, Athletics Carnivals, End of Year Concert and Parent/Teacher meetings.

Parent Satisfaction

A total of 100 parents responded to the school satisfaction survey.  In the survey, parents responded that staff (84%) and students (70%) of St Joseph's School live out Catholic values of witness and service in their words and actions.  80% of parents believe that St Joseph's School promotes justice, compassion and service.  81% stated that at SJA each child is encouraged to achieve to the best of their ability with 74% believing that SJA clearly communicates expectations and rules for student behaviour.  83%% of parents reported that the school treats students from all backgrounds with respect.  85% of parents responded that staff at SJA are accessible, respectful and respond promptly to my concerns. 92% of parents agreed that the classrooms are well presented and stimulating places for learning.  Areas of most concern for parents were:  the need for a new playground, updating the tuckshop menu and reviewing the school's behaviour management policy.  These will be areas for focus in 2019.

Data Last Updated Thu 23 May 2019

Staff Reporting Data
Qualification Highest level of attainment Doctoral / Post-doctoral Masters Bachelor degree Diploma Certificate
Number of staff with this qualification 0 1 17 1 1

Workforce composition
Headcount FTE (Full-time equivalent)
Teaching Staff21 17.7
Non-Teaching Staff 20 9.3
Indigenous 1 0.53

Total funds expended on teacher professional development$6332

Teaching Staff Involved in Professional Development100%

Major Professional Development Initiatives

The teachers have been involved in professional learning in the following areas:

  • Professional Learning Teams with a focus on improved spelling and writing outcomes
  • Mandatory Training
    • Code of Conduct
    • Student Protection
    • Workplace Bullying
    • Sexual Harrassment
    • Manual Tasks
    • Discrimination and EEO
    • Disability Standards
  • First Aid
  • Writing Coaching
  • Catholic School Governance
  • Jolly Phonics & Jolly Grammar
  • Maths - Aligning Assessment with Standards
  • Early Career Teachers Program
  • Positive Partnerships (Autism Training)
  • Administering and Using PM Benchmarks and Probe as diagnostic tools
  • TREWTH Conference
  • How to Teach Growth Mindset
  • Writing Gain Package
  • Developing School Vision and Mission
  • NCCD Quality Assurance Training
  • Siloam Retreats
  • Cued Articulation
  • High Potential Learners
  • Reading to Learn
  • Second Step SEL Program
  • Berry Street Education Model (Trauma Informed Positive Behaviour Strategies)
  • Zones of Regulation
  • School Learning Officer In-services included: 
    • Mandatory Training (as listed above)
    • Autism - Traits and considerations in the school setting
    • Essential skills for classroom management (ESCMs) tips
    • Reading decoding strategies - Beanie Baby Resource
    • School Vision & Mission
    • Siloam Retreats
    • First Aid
    • Cued Articulation
    • Edtech Team Google Summit
    • Trauma Informed Positive Behaviour Strategies
    • Zones of Regulation

Average staff attendance rate for the school year, based on unplanned absences of sick and emergency leave for periods up to 5 days98%

Percentage of teaching staff retained from the previous school year82.00%

Staff Satisfaction

A total of 33 staff responded to the survey. 97% of staff agreed that staff at St Joseph's School live out Catholic values in their words and actions. 97% of staff agreed that SJA is a welcoming and caring community where everyone is treated with respect. 100% of staff agreed that SJA promotes justice, compassion and service. 97% of staff agreed that SJA delivers quality educational outcomes for students and that SJA encourages students to develop a love of learning. 91% of staff felt valued and respected. 97.0% of staff agreed that SJA provides the equipment, training and resources I need to do my work safely. 91% of staff agreed that the grounds, buildings and outdoor facilities are well presented and maintained.  Staff also identified provision of playground equipment and review of behaviour management practices to provide a consistent approach across the school as priorities for the school.  As previously stated these are included in the Annual Plan for 2019. 

Data Last Updated Thu May 16 2019

Student Reporting Data
Average student attendance rates
Prep YR 1 YR 2 YR 3 YR 4 YR 5 YR 6
92.16% 91.4% 90.66% 89.18% 93.02% 94.63% 91.24%
How non-attendance is managed by the school

Teachers alert the school office to student non-attendance promptly every morning through their marking of the electronic school roll. The office staff then contact the parents unless the school has already been notified with a reason for the absence. This contact may be via "SMS" or a phone call.  Persistent student absence concerns are followed up by the principal by either a phone call or face-to-face meeting with parents.  Students with chronic attendance issues are supported by the Diverse Learners Team to assist families in developing better school attendance routines.  Student welfare is a priority for staff at St Joseph's School.

Student Satisfaction

47 students responded to the student satisfaction survey. 92% of students agreed: I am proud to be a student at St Joseph's School. 94% of students agreed: Staff at St Joseph's School show respect for each other. 92% of students agreed: My school encourages me to help other people. 89% of students agreed: The school rules at St Joseph's School are fair and consistent. 96% of students agreed: Doing my best at St Joseph's School is important to me. 96% of students agreed: At St Joseph's School, I am encouraged to do the best I can. 96% of students agreed: I feel safe at school.  Students also identified the provision of a new playground and sports equipment as their priorities for improving St Joseph's School.

Data Last Updated Mon Apr 29 2019

Reading, Writing & Numeracy Results - Year 3, 2018
Reading Average Score for the school 454.1
Average Score for Queensland 437.8
% students at or above the national benchmark 93.5%
Writing Average Score for the school 409
Average Score for Queensland 410.5
% students at or above the national benchmark 100%
Spelling Average Score for the school 440.2
Average Score for Queensland 432.9
% students at or above the national benchmark 96.8%
Grammar and Punctuation Average Score for the school 409.7
Average Score for Queensland 406
% students at or above the national benchmark 96.7%
Numeracy Average Score for the school 410.8
Average Score for Queensland 413.1
% students at or above the national benchmark 96.8%

Data Last Updated Thu May 30 2019

Reading, Writing & Numeracy Results - Year 5, 2018
Reading Average Score for the school 520.8
Average Score for Queensland 517.1
% students at or above the national benchmark 96.6%
Writing Average Score for the school 462.8
Average Score for Queensland 469.4
% students at or above the national benchmark 86.2%
Spelling Average Score for the school 509.6
Average Score for Queensland 511.1
% students at or above the national benchmark 93.1%
Grammar and Punctuation Average Score for the school 501.2
Average Score for Queensland 497.9
% students at or above the national benchmark 100%
Numeracy Average Score for the school 486.6
Average Score for Queensland 501.2
% students at or above the national benchmark 93.1%

Data Last Updated Thu May 30 2019

School Funding By Source
Income 2018

Australian Government recurrent funding$2,518,635

State/Territory Government recurrent funding$689,907

Fees, charges and parent contributions$449,758

Other private sources$121,267

Total gross income (excluding income from government capital grants)$3,779,567

Deductions 2018

Income allocated to current capital projects$63,118

Income allocated to future capital projects and diocesan capital funds$0

Income allocated to debt servicing (including principal repayments and interest on loans)$67,064


Total net recurrent income$77,186

School Annual Reports

Catholic schools in the Diocese of Cairns meet their annual reporting requirements under the Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (the Act) Section 423 (1) by updating their information on this section of the Cairns Catholic Education website. Information contained in each section of the report relates to the previous calendar year. The required information is published by 30 June each year, excepting post-school destinations data for Year 12 completers which is published by 30 September.