2018 Annual Report for Holy Spirit College, Cooktown and Cairns
Motto Lighting the path Holy Spirit College logo_col.jpg
Address 13 Moignard St, MANOORA QLD 4870
Postal Address PO Box 591, MANUNDA QLD 4870
Phone Number (07) 4053 4550
Fax Number -
Email Address
Web Site
Total Enrolments 88 Erica Prosser
Year Levels Offered 7-12
Student Population Co-Educational
Principal Erica Prosser
Parish PriestFr Frank Gordon
Parish Number 07 4053 1383

About our School

Holy Spirit College Cooktown and Cairns is a Years 7 - 12, co-educational Catholic college of the Diocese of Cairns, Catholic Education Services and as such is conducted in accordance with Catholic Christian philosophies and principles. At present our College has two campuses. The main campus is in Cooktown; this offers full-time and weekly residential facilities as well as day options for young people attending the college. The associated campus is in Manoora [Cairns] and while it too offers years 7-12, co-education it is a day only option.

The College commenced operations as a registered Non-State School in 2015. Holy Spirit College is a Special Assistance school offers inclusive and non-discriminating learning opportunities to young people, who for a variety of reasons, found other educational environments unsuitable. Young people who enrol at Holy Spirit College come from a variety of socio-economic, language, cultural and religious backgrounds. We provide individualised educational experiences which cater to the different needs of all young people attending the College.

We work with young people for whom other educational settings have not worked and who may be vulnerable and have a complexity of inter-related needs. The learning experiences are designed to enable the development of self-confidence and respect in young people and promote an optimistic life view. Participation and engagement are key elements in the philosophy of Holy Spirit College as it is through both of these that young people can build the skills needed in their future lives.

One of our core beliefs is that all young people are inherently good and through right choices "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Galatians 5:22-23. Our College maxim 'Transformative Learning Opportunities' has a practical focus, based on the application of the three core working principles of right Relationships, Respect and Responsibility. The core principles are made visible in the ways we work together and in the organisational culture and practices. The principles establish a common understanding among staff, young people and families. Through these principles we have means to negotiate learning, resolve conflict, recognise rights and responsibilities.

The development of moral reasoning through the application of the principles supports young people to recognise their potential and future pathways, while assisting them to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes essential to enjoying a healthy and satisfying life.

Characteristics of Student Body

The young people attending Holy Spirit College come from a large area. Those at the Cooktown Campus are predominately from the Hope Vale community with others from Wujal Wujal, Laura and Coen communities, with a small number coming from the Cooktown township. The cultural nature of the campus is 100% Indigenous.

The Manoora Campus does not have a catchment zone and young people come from all areas of Cairns from Kewarra Beach in the north to Gordonvale in the south and Kuranda to the west. The cohort come from a range of cultural backgrounds with 37% being Indigenous.

In a total enrolment of 88, at 2018 August census, there were:, 54 Indigenous young people including 17 full-time boarders at the Cooktown Campus.

The NCCData displays the complexity of the young people at the college. The number of young people with issues were:
"¢ 11 with Cognitive
"¢ 2 with Sensory
"¢ 75 with Social-emotional

As can be seen by these figures some young people present with more than one issue which impacts on the learning and daily lives. The number of young people with Social-emotional issues reflects the number of traumatised and young people with anxiety attending the College.

School Annual Improvement

In 2018 Holy spirit College has focused on Optimal Wellbeing and Learning for all students through our general educational priority areas of:

  • Engaging, disengaged young people
  • Providing a holistic education - academic, spiritual, social, emotional and physical development
  • Learning in a faith and values-based environment
  • Providing a safe and caring environment which is welcoming, inclusive and family-oriented
  • Connecting with young people, their families, community and other organisations
  • Developing a sense of belonging and community
  • Nurturing and developing the strengths of individuals
  • Preparing young people for a life of worth, not simply a life of work
  • Working with the principles of Relationships, Respect and Responsibility

The wellbeing outcomes for 2018 have been individual and too numerous to mention. The young people's wellbeing outcomes are documented through different processes at Holy Spirit College, including case management notes, achievement notes, engagement matrices and mentor-student discussion notes. There have been many occasions when young people have been supported to work through problems such as; anger issues, domestic violence, homelessness, self-harming and living with drug and alcohol related issues. The high level of support for young people has been achieved through the dedication and work of the staff through organising referrals to appropriate agencies, attending appointments along with specific and general support.

Goals for 2019

  • In collaboration with young people, staff, families and other key stakeholders review the effectiveness of the programs including attendance, well-being, participation, learning outcomes, and community involvement.
  • Review our current planning practices to ensure the inclusion of trauma and collaborative problems solving practices are included in all activities.
  • Develop structures to strengthen staff collaboration and reflective practices.
  • Enhance our well-being program through integrating it into the formal and informal curriculum.
  • Enhance opportunities for young people to participate in workplace learning.
  • Develop further parent/family participation though the development of family advisory groups on each campus.
  • Continue to investigate the feasibility of the expansion of the college.

Distinctive Curriculum Offerings

The college's curriculum approach includes a flexible timetable, small learning groups, and relevant curriculum. This enables the delivery of creative responses to the needs of individual young people, accounting for their cultural and spiritual backgrounds and history of trauma.

In order to meet the needs of young people, Holy Spirit College staff use a variety of practices including trauma informed practices to guide young people. The staff continuously adapt and change the curriculum to best serve the needs of the young people in all areas of education and wellbeing support.

All classes are held in a vertical model, with English and Mathematics being the core of the curriculum. The vertical model is based on young people's well-being and interests. As young people reach the age of 15 years the focus is on pathways planning through work experience, work placements, vocational education and training, school-based traineeships and apprenticeships, and TAFE Queensland courses.

Young people at Holy Spirit College have opportunities to experience a balance of structured classes that are catered to their learning needs and choices with subjects and activities designed to be practical and engaging. The purpose of the learning experiences is to encourage young people to become responsible for their choices and to value their education as a pathway to reaching their goals. Choice subjects are designed to be engaging and cater for a wide range of interests.

Learning programs are developed with the intention to: 

  • empower young people to take personal responsibility for their learning
  • support young people to become independent learners
  • address deficits or gaps in literacy and numeracy
  • develop in young people the skills and dispositions required in today's workplaces including collaboration, innovation and knowledge creation,
  • recognise and celebrate the skills and knowledge of young people,
  • enable young people to experience challenge within a safe and supportive learning environment
  • provide a sense of achievement that is relevant and authentic.

Activities and subjects such as:

  • Yoga
  • Boxing
  • Water Polo
  • Hiking
  • Dance Fitness

enable young people to build self-confidence and trust, in themselves and others.

Extra Curricular Activities

The College offers a variety of co-curricular programs including swimming, sports and whole of campus activities and outdoor education activities aimed at the inclusion and participation of all young people. The College offers a variety of other programs including horticulture, computer activities, board games, sports, and recreational swimming along with less active options. The College participates in the wider local community and is actively involved in community service initiatives including fund raising for charitable organisation through such activities as the Barista Course by making and selling coffee to the staff of a local community organisation.

On Wednesdays young people on both campuses engage in team and relationship building activities through participating in whole of group challenges. During the year some young people worked towards their own personal goals such as developing their fitness and skills to complete the Pyramid walk while others worked towards completing the Red Arrow Walk and then worked on reducing the time it took to finish the circuit. On other Wednesdays community work is undertaken to give back to the local communities.

Social Climate

The College works strongly towards than an inclusive community of young people, staff and parents. We are an inclusive school that extends the personal hand of pastoral care to every member of a complex College environment. There is a strong personal and organizational commitment to growing an inclusive community where pastoral care and young people's wellbeing are obvious. There is a strong Pastoral Care structure in which all members of the College staff play significant roles.

There is an effective location specific program which is designed to build a culture of non-acceptance of bullying or any form of harassment. We work with students to develop more appropriate ways to interact with each other through right Relationships, Respect and Responsibility. Young people have a specific mentor who assists them to build an understanding of their impact, both positive and negative, on other people and that all actions have consequences which may not be immediately noticeable.

The college uses a vertical structure system for young people's classes and as a small cohort, students interact and know each other. This can be especially helpful for newer students and with a teacher to student ratio of 1:9.44, social conflict is kept to a minimum through quickly identifying and resolving problems.

The Pastoral Care system across the College offers a well-developed although continually updating and evolving program across the college to support and enhance student wellbeing. The aim of which is to nurture right relationships with students which are safe, respectful and help them see their full potential. The programs offered work towards ensuring specific issues are addressed as well as focusing on general wellbeing and resilience building.

Each day begins with 'Circle Up' [Pastoral Care Group] and this is held after each break. All members of each Campus are present. In 'Circle Up' a variety of wellbeing and school matters are discussed. The 'Circle Up' sessions make for a calmer and more focused environment. During these sessions staff can gauge if there are any issues within the group or individuals and the young people can raise and discuss any issues or concerns.

Respect for others is essential to enabling the establishment of and support for positive relationships. Any form of bullying is contrary to the rights of the individual, weakens morale and interferes with the effectiveness of the work and learning environment and may be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of individuals. This community addresses bullying by implementing educational activities to inform the young people about bullying and its related effects and protocols are used that sensitively and immediately manage incidents of reported bullying or harassment and provide support for the victim and perpetrator.

Parent Engagement

Parents are encouraged to participate in key learning experiences throughout the year. A variety of well-attended parent and local community functions are held as regular parts of the school calendar. Parents and carers are kept informed of their young person's development and progress in all areas.

As many of our families have had poor experiences with other educational places, home visits are an essential way of keeping parents/carers engaged with the College. The visits assist in engaging parents and families who may also have other barriers to them coming to the college such as, lack of transport, younger children or carer responsibilities.

Parent Satisfaction

School Satisfaction Surveys indicated very high satisfaction with the College. Overall the parents of young people attending Holy Spirit College was highly positive. Those participating in the Parent Satisfaction Surveys ranked the top five reasons for selecting the college being:

  1. Individual Learning Focus
  2. Personal development
  3. Behavioural Management Structures
  4. Quality of Staff
  5. Size of school/classes

Key Satisfaction by general area


Bullying & Behaviour Management






Learning + Teaching




Student Protection


Improvement Processes


Catholic Ethos


Average Satisfaction Score


In survey comments parents, grandparents and carers stated:

  • My children feel wanted and have become more encouraged to be better within themselves
  • The staff have done an amazing job with my child, he has regained self-confidence and is now participating and socialising; this time last year he rarely left his room. The change is truly miraculous and for one thank the Lord for the staff at Holy Spirit College.
  • This school has provided my son a safe supported environment where he has matured, increased confidence and is both respected and respectful. I could not have asked for more from a school. The staff have always been welcoming, supportive and willing to immediately assist with and concerns.
  • I like the individual learning process for my children and a Christian aspect to build their character. Gives them focus to achieve their dreams and aim high.
  • The open communication between the staff, students and parents is fantastic. Love the positive respectful atmosphere of the school. The school is a healthy and happy place to be in.
  • The teaching standards are impressive; the kids are immersed in support to help them learn; the week is so well designed to keep every child keen to learn.
  • Diversity; Respectful inclusion of all young people; Excellent support they offer my grandchildren; The respect and commitment they have shown to my grandchildren. The school never gives up on my grandchildren and has been the reason my grandchildren are still engaged in education. I have the utmost respect and gratitude towards all of the staff at Holy Spirit.
  • I like the attitude of the staff, the flexibility and the fact that the staff all appear to genuinely care about each child.
  • The flexibility and how they go about learning. This learning is more less pressure for students. I also like how they set students up for work and how they teach life skills.
  • The way they influence the students in a positive way. The school has made positive effect on my child and changed her whole outlook. The staff members and the school facilities are exceptional.

Data Last Updated Tue 28 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 3 3 0 2

Workforce composition
Headcount FTE (Full-time equivalent)
Teaching Staff11 11
Non-Teaching Staff 12 11.32
Indigenous 4 4

Total funds expended on teacher professional development$11284

Teaching Staff Involved in Professional Development100%

Major Professional Development Initiatives

The scope of the staff roles is broad, in its depth and substance. It includes:

  • Encouraging young people with self-inquiry and an understanding of their emotional responses
  • Supporting the young people and their families in times of emotional crisis or practical need
  • Maintaining the close partnership between school, young person and parent/carer
  • Working in partnership with other agencies who are involved with students e.g. Headspace, Child and Youth Mental Health; Youth Justice, Wuchopperen Health Service, Project Booyah and Child Protection and Support Agencies
  • Supporting and mentoring young people who live independently
  • Helping students to build capacity and resilience in social and emotional aspects of their lives
  • Informally helping young people develop positive self-concept
  • Supporting young people with issues of drug misuse and self-harm
  • Networking with other government and non-government social support agencies which provide specialist assistance e.g. family mediation, counselling, anger management

Holy Spirit College is committed to the ongoing professional development and formation of staff. This continues to enrich the educational opportunities provided for our young people and models today's reality of lifelong learning.

In 2018 the main focus of professional development has been to engage all staff in learning about disabilities such as ASD, ADHD, ODD and OCD along with working with traumatised young people. Along side of this professional development there has been a significant focus on staff well-being through learning about compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma.

Teacher professional learning targeted in 2018 was:

  • Trauma Informed Practices
  • Working with young people on/with
    • Autistic Spectrum Disorder through online courses with Sue Larkey and attendance at a Professor Tony Attwood conference
    • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
    • Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • Mental Health First Aid
  • Accidental Counsellor
  • Conferences such as TREWTH and Child Safety along with Doing Schools Differently and Collaborative Problem Solving have been attended during the year.

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 year64.00%

Staff Satisfaction

Overall the staff across the college are satisfied with the direction and development of the college. Areas where they believe improvements can be made are in further training in the areas of trauma and disabilities.

Data Last Updated Tue May 21 2019

Student Reporting Data
Average student attendance rates
YR 7YR 8 YR 9 YR 10 YR 11 YR 12
56.68% 50.64% 63.11% 61.36% 59.05% 56.17%
How non-attendance is managed by the school

Student attendance is recorded at every activity/lesson using the electronic administration system. At the beginning of each year parents/caregivers are requested to phone the office or send a written note indicating the reason their child is not attending school. Teachers follow up on non-attendance with the young people in their mentor group. Frequent or longer-term absences are referred to the leadership team for follow up.

Year 10 to 12 Apparent Retention RateN/A
Post-School Destination Information


Student Satisfaction

Young people enrolled at Holy Spirit College frequently voice that over their previous educational journey they have felt unsupported, both educationally and with their wellbeing. Every young person at the college have staff who support them in their overall general wellbeing. The Holy Spirit College team seek to establish a close relationship to each young person that attends the school. All staff monitor the young persons' progress, advocate on their behalf, provide advice, direction and support during difficult personal issues. The mentors also support young people's families to support the young person to achieve their stated personal and educational goals.

The indictor of young people's satisfaction with what is being offered and what is happening at the College can be gauged by their attendance rate with young people attending over 80% and 10 over 90%, which for our disengaged young people is a vast improvement from either not attending or having below 40% attendance rates at previous schools.

Data Last Updated Fri Jan 18 2019

Reading, Writing & Numeracy Results - Year 7, 2018
Reading Average Score for the school 129.6
Average Score for Queensland 549.4
% students at or above the national benchmark 0%
Writing Average Score for the school 351.2
Average Score for Queensland 506.4
% students at or above the national benchmark 0%
Spelling Average Score for the school 130.7
Average Score for Queensland 554.7
% students at or above the national benchmark 0%
Grammar and Punctuation Average Score for the school 0
Average Score for Queensland 553.8
% students at or above the national benchmark 0%
Numeracy Average Score for the school 336.6
Average Score for Queensland 549
% students at or above the national benchmark 0%

Data Last Updated Thu May 30 2019

Reading, Writing & Numeracy Results - Year 9, 2018
Reading Average Score for the school 0
Average Score for Queensland 590.1
% students at or above the national benchmark 0%
Writing Average Score for the school 190.45
Average Score for Queensland 543.4
% students at or above the national benchmark 0%
Spelling Average Score for the school 179.3
Average Score for Queensland 590.4
% students at or above the national benchmark 0%
Grammar and Punctuation Average Score for the school 394.2
Average Score for Queensland 598.3
% students at or above the national benchmark 0%
Numeracy Average Score for the school 365.6
Average Score for Queensland 587.5
% students at or above the national benchmark 0%

Data Last Updated Thu May 30 2019

No Naplan Data Available
School Funding By Source
Income 2018

Australian Government recurrent funding$15,397,791

State/Territory Government recurrent funding$4,254,294

Fees, charges and parent contributions$7,601,915

Other private sources$978,901

Total gross income (excluding income from government capital grants)$28,232,901

Deductions 2018

Income allocated to current capital projects$1,106,501

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

Income allocated to debt servicing (including principal repayments and interest on loans)$1,211,719


Total net recurrent income$1,575,939

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.