One of the reasons we exist...

Perhaps the easiest way to explain what Kooralbyn Masteries are, is to go over some of the more common questions that enquiring parents ask...

But before we do, a quick explanation: We ask our high school students to work really hard in their normal academic classes Monday to Thursday and then the pay-off is, that they get to do something really awesome that they're passionate about ALL-DAY-FRIDAY: THAT's their Mastery. The school offers a wide range of Mastery Programs covering many sporting, artistic, academic and even vocational disciplines and pathways. So, when a young golfer in Sydney (for example) learns that they can play golf all day Friday at a school up in Queensland, or a young artist or musician learns that they can pursue their passion all day Friday at Kooralbyn, they start to gravitate towards our small school. The next thing we know, we have LOTS of great young golfers or artists or musicians at the school...inspiring and motivating each other to 'be the best that they can be'.

Starting to see, why our little school has produced so many successful graduates over the years?

OBJECTIVES OF MASTERIES: Regardless of their focus area or discipline, today’s Mastery Programs each have several clear objectives that they must meet, in order for the school to consider them as viable Mastery programs… 

Objective 1. The Mastery Program must be able to improve a student’s career path aspirations within their chosen discipline or focus area.

Objective 2. The Mastery Program must articulate through to a nationally recognised qualification, certification or accreditation by the end of Grade 12. 

Objective 3. The Mastery must provide a Personal Development Framework for every student…a structured, rigorous and demanding workload designed to challenge every young person to be the best that they can be and provide an opportunity to develop leadership, mentorship and teamwork as well as specific skill sets, knowledge and abilities relevant to their chosen mastery’s discipline/focus area. 

Objective 4. The Mastery Program must be able to deliver valuable broader curriculum objectives like Levels 5 and 6 of the Australian Curriculum | General Capabilities of Personal and Social Capability, Ethical Understanding, Intercultural Understanding, Critical and Creative Thinking and (where applicable) ICT Capability.

Objective 5. The Mastery Program must have an advocate on staff to drive and coordinate the program internally and in so doing, act as a mentor for students who share a passion for the Mastery's specific discipline or focus area. 

Objective 6. The discipline/focus area associated with a Mastery, must be sufficiently popular to be able to attract enough students from both genders across all year groups (Gr 7 to 12) for the program to be economically viable for the school to deliver (e.g. 14 to 20 students in each mastery).

The school’s rich tradition of Mastery Programs links right back to the world-famous golf, athletics, sporting and technology initiatives of the original Kooralbyn International School whose Mastery and Excellence programs started back in the 80s and 90s and which produced such illustrious alumni as Cathy Freeman, Adam Scott, Jason Day and many other famous Australians...through to today's modern success stories, who keep the flame burning.

Olympian, OAM, Australian of the Year

World Class Golfer

World Class Golfer

Engineer • National Athletics

Frequently Asked Questions...

Masteries: Engaging our older students and exciting our younger students


  • What is the purpose of the school's Mastery Program? :: The purpose of a Mastery Program is to provide an opportunity for students to pursue their specific passions beyond what can be offered within normal school. When you collect a group of students all sharing a common objective to achieve excellence in a particular field, you create one of those 'the whole is greater than the sum of its parts' kind of outcomes that can be life-changing for young people. Our Mastery Programs strive to provide friendly competition, dedicated and professional support and a structured program of development and improvement that helps each student attain personal goals within their chosen field of specialisation.
  • What kind of outcomes do students achieve from the school's Mastery Programs? :: Suffice it to say, the list of State and National representatives the school's Mastery Programs have produced (and continue to produce) is staggering. Individual outcomes vary for every child however, depending upon a number of variables... their personal goals, their level of dedication, determination and commitment and obviously to some extent, their natural talent. In addition to these aspirational outcomes, students gain nationally recognised qualifications, certifications or accreditations. All Mastery Programs have an affiliated Qld Senior subject or vocational qualification that is able to be completed by Grade 12. In addition to that,  Australian Curriculum - General Capabilities modules and units are undertaken within the Mastery Programs throughout  Grades 7 to 10.    
  • What Mastery Programs are offered? :: Though there are some Masteries that have continued since the original school opened in the mid-80's, the list of available Mastery programs changes every few years. Mastery Programs are sometimes suspended or temporarily postponed from time to time, ocassionally they flip between being School-based or Private Masteries depending on popularity, and sometimes Masteries reach their maximum capacity and have temporarily suspended new parents should check with the school to ensure course and place availability, but currently the school is offering Mastery Programs in... • Art • Athletics  • Dance • Digital Design • Drama • eSports • Film & Television • Golf • Health & Fitness • Music • Tennis • SUPr (Specialised University Preparation which includes LOTE) • School-based Traineeships and Apprenticeships as well as a small number of Private Masteries (see elsewhere in this FAQ) in • Equestrian, • Aviation and • Swimming.
  • Who is able to participate in a Mastery Program? :: All Kooralbyn high school students.
  • Why can't Kooralbyn primary students participate in Mastery Programs too? :: One of the school's core philosophies is that primary students should be focused on building their foundational strengths in literacy, numeracy and other core academic areas. Of course we still introduce our primary students to sports, athletics, music, art, languages and other 'fun' subjects, but through trial and error we have concluded that young children don't yet possess the maturity required to sustain concentration and engagement for an entire school day. (It's the same reason we don't employ Block Timetables in Primary School.)
  • WHEN are Mastery programs conducted? :: Though the timetables can change from time to time, the Masteries normally operate every Friday during term from 9:00AM to 3:00PM with the usual breaks for Morning Tea and Lunch. Occassionally, Masteries may be involved in external competitions or Eisteddfods or inter-school challenges which would involve other days of the week.
  • What do the Mastery Programs cost? :: The School-Based Masteries are included as compulsory elements of our high school education, so they don't entail a specific charge or fee. Having said that, occassionally a Mastery may have related costs...for example, our famous Golf Mastery Program requires each student to be a member of a PGA affiliated club, which would entail an external cost. Our Dance Mastery students usually compete in Eisteddfods and though the competition and transport costs themselves are covered by the school, certain optional costume items may have to be purchased (or contributed to) by the parents of the student. Tennis Mastery students, Golf Mastery students, etc., would be encourged to purchase their own equipment, though this is not compulsory. Of course, students in Private Masteries cover all their own external costs. (See separate information about the different types of masteries.)
  • What happens to the school work that our high school students miss out on during Fridays? :: Mastery Students are not disadvantaged academically as the school timetables suitable classroom contact time for all other subjects. (Example, the QCAA recommends a minimum of 55 Hours per semester of contact time for each of the core subjects studied in Senior. At Kooralbyn, our students are offered between 60 and 65 hours contact time per semester during the Monday to Thursay timetable.) One way that the school achieves this, is that Senior students (Grades 10 to 12) are only required to undertake FIVE academic subjects (instead of the usual six), with their affiliated Mastery subject or Vocational Qualification consitituting their sixth subject that is undertaken as part of their Mastery Program on Fridays. (See next question.)
  • Do TKIS Mastery Programs offer any formal qualification? :: Yes --- Though formal vocational qualifications and traditional academic outcomes might not always be the prime objective of the school's Mastery Programs, the new Queensland Senior Curriculum (referred to as the ATAR system) facilitates the opportunity for our Grade 12 students to graduate with a full or partial Applied Subject in a related discipline...e.g. Sport & Recreation, Arts in Practice, etc. Students of the Film & Television Mastery program can complete the General Subject: Film, Television & New Media. Students in the SUPr program can study for a LOTE qualification (usually Japanese, German or Chinese). A Cert II in IDMT is available through the school's own RTO for students in the Digital Design Mastery or eSports Mastery and of course, students who undertake a School-based Traineeship or Apprenticeship as their Mastery, will achieve the relevant Cert III qualifications provided within that program. To review the latest affiliated subjects and qualifications associated with each Mastery Program, please consult the current Mastery Application Form.     
  • What are the Entry Requirements for each Mastery? :: Standards can alter from year to year. Generally speaking however, if a student is entering the Mastery in a lower grade (Grade 7 or 8 for example), then the expectations for the Mastery will not be particularly high (i.e. they could be beginner or novice level). Conversely, a student seeking to enter the SUPr (Specialised University Preparation) program in Grade 11 for example, will need to have passed a foreign language subject at least up to Grade 10 standard and be performing well in their other academic subjects. Parents and students should speak directly to the school to answer any specific questions in relation to entry requirements.
  • Can a student participate in TWO Masteries at the same time? :: No. It IS possible to switch regularly between one mastery and another (say a term or semester with each). This is NOT encouraged, but it IS possible. It is also possible, when a student first enters Kooralbyn, to trial a few mastery programs over a few weeks. WIthin those few weeks however, the student would be expected to make a decision and choose. Most masteries require dedication and commitment, so switching between masteries is NOT something that is likely to lead to success.
  • How long does a student have to stay in a Mastery…What happens if my child chooses a Mastery but then finds that it is not what they thought it was going to be and wants to swap? :: Of course, we hope that students choose a Mastery because it is a discipline/focus area that they are passionate about…that it’s something that they have life-long career path aspirations in and that they’ll want to remain in that Mastery Program throughout their entire time here at Kooralbyn. Obviously though, many young people (especially those in Grades 7, 8 and 9), are still exploring their options, discovering themselves and their passions and they might not be so confident in their mastery choices. Other than taking on a SAMPLER program for three or four weeks, where (assuming there are spaces available) the student samples a different mastery each week for a couple of weeks, students are otherwise requested to remain in their enrolled Mastery for at least ONE SEMESTER. (This is for two reasons… firstly, it can take that kind of time to really understand and make an informed decision about a Mastery and secondly, the Mastery Coordinators have to plan programs and resources around each student and each cohort, so we have to discourage students from flipping around all the time). Our own Grade 6 students are invited to participate in a Mastery Sampler Program at the end of their grade 6 year.
  • Can a high school student choose to NOT attend school on Fridays if they're not interested in any of the masteries offered by the school? :: No. --- Other than being fully involved in either a School-Based Traineeship or Apprenticeship (in Grades 9 to 12) or an approved Private Mastery (in Grades 7 to 10), students who don't attend school on Fridays, are marked absent and risk disqualifiying themselves for their Qld Certificate of Education due to a poor overall attendance record, etc. Valuable components of the Australian Curriculum - General Capabilities  Years 7 to 10 continua are delivered within our Mastery Programs including Personal and Social Capability, Ethical Understanding, Critical and Creative Thinking, etc. Masteries are such an integral component of the Kooralbyn experience, the suggestion could be made, that if a student is not interested at all, in any of the Masteries the school offers, then perhaps Kooralbyn might not be the best choice of school for that student? We're always happy to discuss every student's needs and options, of course.
  • If my child applies for a Mastery, are they guaranteed a place in that Mastery Program? :: No — Masteries usually have a maximum capacity of around 20 students. Once a student is offered a place in a Mastery Program as long as they maintain the minimum standards and expectations of that program, they will not be asked to leave. That means however, that Mastery Programs can fill up. (Which is why the Mastery Application Form, requires students to indicate their 1st, 2nd and 3rd preferences.) The way that the Mastery student allocation process works, a student who misses out on their first choice in one year, is highly likely to be offered a position in their first choice Mastery Program, by their second year at the school.  
  • Why are the school’s mastery programs offered during school time (on Fridays)? Don’t most private schools offer their co-curricular/extra-curricular programs after school and on weekends? ::
    1. Kooralbyn’s Mastery Programs are much more than just standard co-curricular programs. Apart from providing genuine career path options, our Masteries deliver essential QCAA and Australian Curriculum components. The school relies on its high school Mastery Programs (or more accurately, the Qld Registered Teachers who coordinate and lead those programs) to be responsible for delivering the Level 5 and 6 learning continua aspects of the Australian Curriculum (i.e. many of the General Capabilities are designed to be applied over several years in a continuum from Grade 7 to 10). The Masteries also deliver senior curriculum subjects and qualifications in grades 11 and 12. Moreover, each mastery is designed to provide structured career path, life-skills, mentoring and leadership opportunities that are far too important (in the school’s opinion) to be left to optional, part-time, unstructured ‘after-school’ chance. 
    2. The nature of the school’s geographic catchment area, means that the majority of our students spend up to 2 and 3 hours a day commuting to and from school. This places considerable pressure on the school’s timetables and precludes us from being able to utilise before and after-school time in any equitable way. In many private schools, before and after school co-curricular programs are optional and often come with additional fees charged to parents. At Kooralbyn, we don’t want access to such valuable programs to be limited by financial, geographic, time-availability or any other hurdles. 
    3. By removing all pastoral care, sports, religious and non-academic activities (other than a short assembly one morning a week) from our Monday to Thursday secondary school timetable, the school manages to not only meet and sometimes exceed the recommended minimum classroom contact hours for the Australian Curriculum and QCAA Senior subjects, but also allows us to achieve several other objectives, including being able to attract highly qualified external coaches, instructors and RTOs to campus all day Fridays, to support our registered teachers and provide a level of instruction and stewardship that our students wouldn’t otherwise have access to. 
    4. Over the last few decades, Mastery Programs in high school, have become synonymous with Kooralbyn and integral to the ‘choice’ that we offer parents. They’re part of our ‘point of difference’ and speak to the culture and history of our small school (both old and new).