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At Woodleigh, we expect that students will take increasing responsibility for themselves as they grow. We believe that every child can be a compassionate and active contributor to society and make the world a better place. More than this, Woodleigh students should be prepared to play a role in contributing to social justice globally. We aim to develop young people who embody their values and understandings and act upon them both at school and beyond.

Effective character education is not achieved through a series of isolated interventions but rather a sustained and ingrained approach to teaching and learning. Character education is enhanced and brought to life through planned, integrated projects, experiences and adventures within the schooling experience.

The principal objective of Woodleigh's Community Partnerships Program is to add breadth, depth and enrichment to our young people's experience – and to share these experiences with our outside partners. Of critical importance is that these programs empower students to feel that they can make a difference and leave a positive legacy that enriches the lives of others.

Woodleigh's Community Partnership Program aims to challenge young people to engage in authentic experiences that strengthen our communities while embedding the 3Rs – Respect for Self, Respect for Others and Respect for The Environment. It is not about saving people; it comes from the heart. It is about two-way learning, solid connections and long-lasting relationships.

Woodleigh's Community Partnerships Program aims to:

Provide practical opportunities for learning which develop initiative and perseverance, enabling students to experience how they can make a difference within our community.

  • Offer genuine experiences that will require courage, generosity, imagination and resolve.
  • Deliver authentic experiences that demonstrate the importance of service to others.
  • Facilitate learning opportunities that enable students to listen to community partners' wants and needs – allowing partnerships to co-develop long-term, sustainable projects and tackle relevant and important issues.
  • Avoid tokenism or creating beliefs of superiority, and challenge students' thinking.
  • Promote the opportunity to foster understanding, goodwill, respect and friendship between individuals.

The Background

Kurt Hahn has, both directly and indirectly, impacted our Community Partnerships philosophy and practice. His approach to learning influenced Michael Norman's thinking around many aspects of school life, especially linking academic curricula, activities, and involvement with broader community life.

Community Partnerships align with Round Square and the International Baccalaureate (IB) framework. Round Square schools share a commitment to character education and experiential learning built around six IDEALS – International Understanding, Democracy, Environmental Stewardship, Adventure, Leadership and Service. This international schools network promotes values-based education, which explores personal qualities, attitudes, personality and strength of character.

These evolve through experiences, real-world learning and periods of reflection. Round Square experiences can instil a passion for lifelong learning and provide the 'noise filter' necessary for students to develop higher-order thinking skills, both of which are essential for the constantly connected, communication-rich i-Generation. The Round Square community cares passionately about the future of our world and educating students on the variety of cultures and communities it supports. It aims to create communities that thrive and prosper and care about each other in mutual cooperation. To achieve this, we need courageous and compassionate world leaders who are prepared to discover and embrace different cultures in ways that promote meaningful understanding and respect.

Today's students are the next generation of leaders. Education plays a pivotal role in shaping how our young people understand, prepare for, and respond to the world's challenges both today and in the future. Ultimately, students should understand that whatever field of work or career they enter, they can make a positive difference in the world. They don't have to wear a backpack and hiking boots to experience adventure. They don't have to be a doctor to save lives. They don't have to go on a community service project to help a community in need. They don't have to run a charity to be a compassionate leader.

Hahn was a key architect of the philosophy, structure, and content of the IB and the founding father of both Outward Bound and The Duke of Edinburgh's Award. Indeed, his theory of Outward Bound inspired the Creativity, Activity, Service element of the IB Diploma, most notably a sense of compassion through service.

IB learners strive to be caring members of the community who demonstrate a commitment to service – making a positive difference to the lives of others and the environment. Service as action is an integral part of each IB programme. In alignment with the International Baccalaureate (IB) Learner Profile, all members of the Woodleigh School Community are encouraged to be:

  • Inquirers, by nurturing curiosity and a lifelong enjoyment of learning.
  • Knowledgeable, by developing conceptual understanding across a range of disciplines.
  • Thinkers, by applying thinking skills critically and creatively.
  • Communicators, by expressing ideas confidently, listening carefully and collaborating effectively.
  • Principled, by acting with integrity and honesty, a strong sense of fairness and justice, and respect for people's dignity and rights everywhere.
  • Open-minded, seeking and evaluating a range of viewpoints, and showing a willingness to grow from this experience.
  • Caring, by showing empathy, compassion, and respect to make a positive difference in the lives of others and the world around us.
  • Risk-Takers, by approaching challenge and change with courage, determination, resourcefulness and resilience.
  • Balanced, by understanding the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional balance in achieving personal wellbeing in our lives.
  • Reflective, by thoughtfully considering our ideas and experiences, strengths and challenges to nurture our growth as learners and people.

When compared to more traditional classroom learning, service learning does not fall short. If anything, it shines. In a survey of 4000 students (all involved in service programs), 75 per cent reported learning 'more' or 'much more' through their service than through their regular classes (Conrad and Hedlin, 1991). More recent educational research is singing the praises of allowing students to work for 'real audiences'. Service activities are a wonderful expression of this. Generally, service is performed both with and for other people, and in this way, it fuels learning and develops a student's sense of educational competence. The experiential component and the importance of applying content and skills in a real-world environment for real-world benefits lead to tangible improvements in student outcomes and increased motivation to learn. (Kaye 2010)

The MYP IB Inquiry Learning Cycle

The System of Service Learning

Building on the MYP Learning cycle, the stages of service learning that Kaye proposes are valuable to add rigour to the entire process. If we imagine that the skills and knowledge we aim to impart in our students as the ingredients, then the six stages are the recipe. These stages constitute a key to students' effectiveness and are critical to learning transferable skills and content. Even though each stage is referenced separately, they are linked and often experienced simultaneously.

  1. Awareness, Inventory and Investigation (What is the need?)
    1. Begin with a personal inventory:

i. Interests
ii. Skills
iii. Talents
iv. What is the need
v. Analyse the community problem
vi. Start to gather partners

2. Preparation and Planning (What is the plan for accomplishing this service? What are the roles? Responsibilities? A timeline? Resources needed?)

    1. Find a partner (in school, at home, local, regional, international)
    2. Is anyone doing work on this already? Make contact!
    3. Make calls, contacts
    4. Design a way to monitor your progress (what is the need, what changes have been made, what other changes have taken place, describe the evidence of your progress, provide a summary of your findings).

3. Action (Carry out the plan through direct or indirect service, working individually, with partners, or in a group).

    1. Letter writing
    2. Excursions
    3. Research projects
    4. Events
    5. Crafts
    6. Fundraisers
    7. Tutoring sessions
    8. Awareness campaigns
    9. Various service projects

4. Reflection (What did I learn? What benefits did my service provide? How did I feel during the service cycle? What difference did this make?)

    1. This should take place at many stages, not just the end. It is too late then!
    2. Recheck, redesign, change, improve.
    3. Think about what you learned; feel better about your work.

Students can reflect on their experiences with:

  • Group discussions
  • Journal entries
  • Worksheets
  • Essays
  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Poems or songs
  • Visual art submissions

5. Demonstration This can lead to more questions but may include:

    1. Final presentations (parents, Assemblies, external audience)
    2. Newsletter articles
    3. Videos
    4. Graphs or charts
    5. Books or portfolios

6. Celebration

This may include:

    1. Making thank-you cards or gifts for peers and community partners
    2. Being recognised at the next school assembly or on social media
    3. Discussing the impact their efforts have made

This shows the stages of learning, the many different skills used, and evidence that the experience matters. It can inspire other people to take action and helps students understand that they can do this again at another time, in another subject or facet of their life.

The Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

The 17 SDGs are integrated – they recognise that action in one area will affect outcomes in others and that development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability.

The 17 SDG's are a handy tool to assist students in exploring or developing their interest in these areas, especially during the initial stages mentioned above.

Wellbeing and Engagement

Numerous studies have recorded increased personal happiness, life satisfaction, hopefulness, open-mindedness, self-esteem, and connectedness due to involvement in service activities. Key elements of service programs (such as positive relationships with adults, opportunities to develop social competence, and involvement in a local community) are cited as influential protective factors for young people. Recent Australian studies have demonstrated a correlation between service activity and reduced rates of depression, isolation, mental disorders, psychological stress and (in some cases) even physical health conditions (Berry, 2007). It is proven that adolescents need to contribute to society and, by doing so, can safeguard against anxiety and depression (Johnson, 2020). These activities must have personal meaning rather than serving as padding for university applications (Scientific American 2021). While people impacted by misfortune benefit from the support of volunteers, evidence indicates that volunteers also benefit from their service.

First and foremost, engaging with and building Community Partnerships is an excellent way to make a connection. They connect our students, school and others in our local communities to better mental wellbeing or potential pathways to employment (Volunteering Australia, 2021). Research confirms (Beyond Blue, 2017) the inextricable link between connectedness and good mental health. Indeed, as social distancing and isolation became our new norm, the value we place on connectedness has increased.


Connected with the IB creativity, activity, service approach, Community Partnerships can be defined as an unpaid and voluntary relationship that has a learning benefit for our students and our community partner. The rights, dignity and autonomy of all those involved are respected.

Cathryn Berger Kaye (2010) encompasses Woodleigh's aspirations in her statement: (It) "connects school‐based curriculum with the inherent caring and concern young people have for their world – whether on their school campus, at a local food bank, or in a distant rain forest. The results are memorable, lifelong lessons for students and foster a stronger society for us all."

A Commitment to Connection

A commitment to the philosophy of building connections is part of Woodleigh's culture. We strive to spread the excitement and inspire the engagement that leads right back to the classroom integration of service learning. A key feature is an expectation that all students will engage with local and broader communities through voluntary service activities. It is very much a distinguishing feature at Woodleigh that the needs of our community partners guide the actions within these programs.

By defining and promoting this spirit of service, we encourage responsible social action based on a deep understanding of challenges, and issues faced by individuals and communities in need of support throughout the world. At Woodleigh, we offer programs and projects (both individually and collaboratively) that engage students and role-model positive, sustainable, community partnerships locally and further afield.

The connections listed below provide a glimpse into the raft of opportunities at our school. However, it is important to remember, the purpose and magic lie beyond the programs themselves. We must look beyond the 'doing' of volunteering, mentoring, charity, community engagement and fundraising and see the 'being' within our students. By engaging with service, we instil in our students a culture of teamwork, transcultural understanding, and knowledge of world issues – fostering compassion, empathy and creativity in our community.

Deputy Principal – Community, Culture and Student Experiences

The graduates this school produces are different from those from other schools. In my short time at Woodleigh, I have noted the maturity, confidence, and well-adjusted nature of our senior students. They are happy to chat, look you in the eye when you’re talking and are genuinely interested in the conversation. They are articulate, passionate and informed. Certainly, they are ready to take the next step beyond school.

In 2020, our Year 12 students completed their VCE in unprecedented circumstances. Investing time and effort in isolation, while their teachers were themselves reimagining their craft to make it work in a remote setting. The year’s work done by both teachers and students was remarkable, and it fills me with pride to be able to share the news that their drive and perseverance has been rewarded. This year’s VCE results celebrate the efforts of the Class of 2020. Each of these students leaves the supportive environment we have built at Woodleigh with the requisite skills needed to succeed beyond school. As teachers, we watch as students grow into themselves, developing skills to communicate, empathise and solve problems. We see them gain in confidence and ability, and when we farewell them, we know they are taking a wide variety of real-life experiences to draw on in their lives. They leave with so much more than a list of academic achievements; they leave with an understanding that they can impact a situation, based entirely on their attitude and input. The Class of 2020 performed brilliantly. The 2020 Dux of Woodleigh School is Jussy Poyser who achieved the most impressive ATAR of 99.75. Jazzy Evenden also excelled, achieving an ATAR of 99.55, while Gretel Friedlander, Ben Myatt and Francesca Puleio must also be loudly celebrated for their efforts, each achieving an ATAR above 95.

These are outstanding results. Congratulations again to Jussy Poyser and Jazzy Evenden who received perfect study scores of 50 in English and Studio Arts respectively. We also recognise the work of Jazzy Evenden, Alfie Jacques and Shanti Russell who have all been shortlisted for the VCAA Season of Excellence Exhibitions, Jazzy and Shanti for Top Arts at the NGV, and Alfie for Top Designs at the Melbourne Museum. In 2020:

  • 8% of Woodleigh students achieved an ATAR of 95 or more.
  • 17.5% of Woodleigh students achieved an ATAR of 90 or more.
  • 47.6% of Woodleigh students achieved an ATAR of 80 or more.
  • Our median study score was 33.
  • Our median ATAR was 78.4

Woodleigh’s stories of success range from those who scored highly or received early offers to study interstate, others who transitioned into apprenticeships and traineeships and those who struggled, worked hard and completed their education against the odds. We are equally proud of them all. I wish all students from the Class of 2020 the very best for 2021 as they move on to tertiary studies and work, or for some, a well-earned gap year. All the best.   


When the Premier announced that all Victorian students were to return to remote learning on Wednesday 5 August, our scheduled recording of the 2020 Production on Saturday 8 became lost to static. Incredibly, our cast, crew, and staff rallied in response, to bring our radio-play’s recording forward within hours of the new lockdown measures.

It is a remarkable feat when you consider: that late into Term 1, opening night sat in the calendar towards the end of August; that we had negotiated two lockdowns already; and that we had several final rehearsals scheduled before the microphones went live.

In a time of such uncertainty and unprecedented experience, we can quickly become lost to hyperbole. It is difficult for me to dial it down and write about this project in any lesser terms. I am so immensely proud of our Woodleigh community. This production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is much more than a work of exciting art. It is a testament to our school’s character, one that is defined by resilience, optimism, and the most sacred of dramatic principles: the will to say ‘yes,’ to accept an offer and to take a risk.

Here is a quick snapshot of what we achieved in the past two weeks:

  • Jussy Poyser, Gretel Friedlander, Tamsin GriffithsElla Jones, and Milla Lee performed a beautiful contemporary dance piece, which was recorded by Cass Tutton and Tom Burton – thank you, Casey Hall, for guiding Jussy’s choreography and arranging the costuming, and Amy White for directing and editing the film;
  • Lou Lou Burton and Lally Penna photographed 40 or so cast and crew portraits for the programme – thank you Emma Cleine for your vision and coordination;
  • The Year 11 Media class interviewed selected cast members to produce a ‘behind the scenes’ visual process journal to be aired on opening night – thank you, Elspeth Cooper, for running with the idea and even fitting it into your curriculum as a VCE Unit 2 outcome,
  • Rosh O’Connell arranged and performed four songs, featuring Tayla Basso (cello), Jazzy Evenden (harp), Emma Sherrington (piano) and James Ward (percussion) – thank you, Sue Fletcher, for your guidance, patience, and expertise as a composer;
  • Close to 30 cast members, from across Years 7 to 12, recorded The Crucible as a radio play, to be professionally produced by LSS Productions. Thank you, Claire Wearne, for your attention to detail and diligence as our Producer and Miffy Farquharson for your unparalleled organisation, generosity of time, and unwavering positivity.

Also, a massive thanks to Anthony Bingham for recoding keys for our hymns, Lisa Grigg and Emma Hall, to help supervise our recording days. Suzanne Cunningham, for always proactive with our admin requests and Adam Liddiard for your help with marketing (and hoodies!). For the voicework with the cast, Lucy Wharington, for your work with the cast, Carey Saunders, for your work with Harvey to encourage his Acknowledgment of Country and David Baker for giving us the green-light multiple times!

Furthermore, I would like to celebrate cast members: Lily CarterTamsin GriffithsCharlotte HastieElla JonesTommy LewisRosh O’ConnellPippin Seagren-Hughes and James Stuart. These students stepped up and into new roles well into the rehearsal process. Without you, this show wouldn’t have happened.

Finally, a sincere and heartfelt thank you to our parents. Without your pick-ups and drop-offs, your support, and your CareMonkey correspondence, our cast and crew would not have been able to commit to what has been a vibrant, challenging, and authentically collaborative learning experience. The sense of achievement at the end of our recording day was palpable.

The show has indeed gone on given the year that we have had, that is one exceptional achievement.

I’ll catch you in Salem on August 20 and 21.


Year 5 is a busy year at Woodleigh. It's here that we add a second stream of students – bringing new energy and ideas – and it's also here that we set students on their journey through Woodleigh's unique 'Homestead' Program.

But what is Homestead? Homestead is a home-away-from-home for students that bridges the academic and pastoral elements of education. It is a place where students are known and valued, where they have the opportunity to lead and succeed, and where individually-tailored learning programs and a vibrant curriculum work to get the most from every student. 

At Woodleigh, strong core literacy and numeracy programs are complemented by an extensive range of co-curricular Sports, Arts, Activity, Camp, LOTE and Cultural Programs. This wide range of programs and real-world experiences mean that Year 5 and 6 students at Woodleigh discover and follow their passions while growing in a culture of mutual respect, cultural freedom and inclusion. 

Camp and cultural experiences see our students travel far and wide. Wherever they go, our students explore new environments and cultures together; building friendships, resilience, resourcefulness, and gaining invaluable life experience.

Back at school, our Year 5 & 6 students come together regularly with students at the Senior Campus for cross-campus and peer-teaching activities, including whole-school musicales, cultural days, festivals, sports and excursions. Students get to know their way around the Senior Campus, and by the time they arrive for their first day of Year 7, they are confident and comfortable. As a candidate school for the International Baccalaureate Primary Years and Middle Years Programmes, there is academic continuity from Year 6 to Year 7, smoothing the transition to Secondary education. 

When the first day of Year 7 arrives, our students are ready to hit the ground running.

To find out more about what a Woodleigh education can offer your child, or to join us in Year 5, either next year or later on, please visit our Enrolments page.


Dear Woodleigh Community,

Today I begin my tenure as the sixth Principal of Woodleigh School. I have imagined my start at the School for the past six months and must admit that my vision was remarkably different from today’s reality. Regardless of the current crisis, I am thrilled to be here and very happy to be home on the Peninsula. I hope that together we can navigate this pandemic and ensure that Woodleigh can recover and continue to be the amazing School that it is. During my many recent visits, I have begun to develop a great love of Woodleigh, and I am looking forward to a time when I can work with you and your children.

The COVID-19 pandemic is placing enormous strain on many members of the Woodleigh community. Now, more than ever, we must come together, draw on our resilience and support one another as best we can. I know that Woodleigh will survive this current crisis, and together we will ensure that it continues to be a remarkable place of learning, connectedness and belonging. The Board and School Leadership Team are working tirelessly to manage the School’s short, medium and long term COVID-19 response, with a focus on our ability to be agile and respond quickly, and appropriately, as circumstances change.
As you know, our immediate response has been to ensure that learning can continue for all Woodleigh students throughout the current period of home isolation. The implementation of the Woodleigh School Continuous Learning Plan has required an enormous amount of planning and flexibility by everyone involved, and our program and offering will continue to evolve after the holidays. Any remote learning situation is not ideal; however, I have been thrilled to read the many positive comments coming in from our families. There is a great sense that we are all in this together.
I want to take this opportunity to thank David Burton and the School Leadership Team for their work during Term 1. Particularly for the clear and consistent communication families have received as the crisis has unfolded. David will continue to lead the response team in Term 2, and you will receive further updates from him and the team in the coming weeks.
With a small team of essential workers, I will be working from the Senior Campus until restrictions change. We will each be working in isolation during this time, ensuring we can respond to any communications coming into the School while supporting staff and families as best we can.
I wish you well for these holidays/home isolation period. I hope you can use this time to recharge and finish a few of those nagging jobs around the home, and most importantly, spend some quality time with your families. Please take care and protect your health.
I look forward to the time when I can meet you all and form personal connections with the Minimbah, Penbank and Senior Campus Communities. Thank you again for your support during this challenging and stressful time. Please feel free to contact me during the coming weeks.
Best wishes, 
David Baker

Page last updated – 27 March


27 March 2020

Dear Woodleigh Families,

As the school term draws to a close, I wanted to take this opportunity to sign off as Acting Principal as well as provide some guidance to families on the plans for the start of Term 2.

The School is currently in Phase One of implementation for our Continuous Learning Plan. At this stage, our focus is on the design and delivery of asynchronous learning engagements, that do not require teachers and students to be online at the same time. As our families are experiencing high levels of disruption at home due to the spread of COVID-19, this is an essential part of our plan to ensure equity of access. Importantly, Phase One is also providing the school with the opportunity to test the new systems and structures we have put in place to support this alternate mode of education. In particular, we needed to ensure our IT infrastructure could support the increasing level of demand. We are keen to ensure that each child has access to educational materials and support while our physical campuses are closed. This survey is designed to help Woodleigh School understand what resources families need during this time. We would be very grateful if you could complete this over the next few days.

We will be implementing the second phase of our Continuous Learning Plan early in Term 2. This next phase will include the introduction of synchronous learning engagements, providing opportunities for students to participate in engagements with their teachers and classmates at an established time to allow for interactions in real time. As part of our planning for the approach, we are currently working through the technical, practical and legal requirements for Phase Two, so we are able to expand our provision in a safe, effective and sustainable manner. Further advice regarding the move to Phase Two will be available to the community towards the end of the holiday break.

In light of Stage 2 government restrictions we have now closed the gates to all three campuses. A very small skeleton staff will continue to work at the Senior Campus on ‘essential’ work but the campus will be closed to the broader Woodleigh community until restrictions are lifted. Parents can continue to contact School Reception on 5971 6100 or by email using of our non-teaching staff will continue to work from home during the Easter holidays.

We will continue to monitor the government advice and updates, communicating the implications for the School to families as soon as possible.

I would like to take this opportunity to direct families to some of the support services that have been set up by the Australian Government:

Parents may also be interested to view this video from Dr Arne Rubinstein from The Rites of Passage Institute on parenting in a time of crisis. Many of you will recall that Arne ran a session at Senior Campus in March last year as part of our Parent Education series.

The incoming Principal David Baker has been generously supporting the School over the last few weeks whilst also dealing with the COVID-19 issue at Gippsland Grammar. We had originally scheduled that the handover between David and me would be Monday 6 April but, unsurprisingly, David’s holiday plans have changed and I’m handing over the baton today to give David clear water to take over as Principal. I will continue to be heavily involved with the COVID-19 response of course as Head of Senior Campus before moving on at the end of Term 2. Keep an eye out for communication from David in due course.

We thank you again for your support and understanding during this time and hope that families can still enjoy the Easter holidays under these challenging circumstances.

David Burton 
Deputy Principal – Head of Senior Campus

25 March 2020

Dear Woodleigh Families,

Following recent announcements by the Victorian State Premier on Stage 2 restrictions on non-essential venues and activities, I wish to advise families of the updated working arrangements across the three Woodleigh School campuses. 

We have been thrilled with the support we’ve received from families and students regarding our Continuous Learning Plan. Our learning programs have continued to be delivered to all students this week, with nearly 98% of students from Years 7 to 12 checking in with Homestead Tutors this morning. Minimbah and Penbank teachers have also reported very high engagement over the last two days. 

We have been able to keep some non-teaching staff onsite across the three campuses this week. However, in light of the new Stage 2 restrictions announcement, we will be closing the physical Minimbah and Penbank campuses from 5pm today. A small, skeleton staff will continue to work from the Senior Campus on ‘essential’ work, but we will not be able to provide onsite service to families or students at Senior Campus after 5pm tomorrow (Thursday). Parents can continue to contact School Reception on 5971 6100 or by email using . Many of our non-teaching staff will continue to work from home during the Easter holidays, while our teaching staff will, of course, continue to be in contact and delivering our Continuous Learning Plan before breaking for the holidays this Friday. 

We will continue to monitor government advice and updates, communicating the implications for the School to families as soon as possible. 

We thank you again for your support and understanding during this time. 

David Burton 
Acting Principal – Head of Senior Campus

​23 March 2020

Dear Woodleigh Families,

Following the Victorian State Government’s announcement yesterday that all government schools in Victoria will be closing to students from tomorrow (Tuesday), I want to provide some clarity to families on the arrangements across the three Woodleigh School campuses.

The decision to close the physical premises to students last week and provide time for teachers to plan for the implementation of the Continuous Learning Plan has proved enormously beneficial. I am pleased to confirm that all three campuses are able to deliver our learning programs to all students this week through the implementation of the Plan. We will be breaking for the Easter school holidays as scheduled after Friday.

We have had a very successful first day of the Continuous Learning Plan for Senior Campus students today, with over 90% of students from Years 7 to 12 checking in with Homestead tutors at the start of the day. Our secondary tutors will again be sending ‘Direct Messages’ from SEQTA to their tutor groups tomorrow morning. We hope to get closer to 100% tomorrow. Junior Campus class teachers will also be connecting with their students.

We ask families again to please check the Continuous Learning Plan website for an overview of expectations as well as guidelines for parents. We ask respectfully please that parents also adhere to the guidance around non-essential travel and social distancing; further resources can also be found on the site. We have sent out further program-specific guidance to all families this afternoon, with more detail about the learning experiences at each section of the School. The information for VCE Units 3 and 4 has drawn on the latest VCAA updates.

We continue to be very appreciative of the support and understanding of the Woodleigh community as we grapple with the COVID-19 outbreak. We look forward to the time when we reopen our campuses. We will continue to monitor the situation in the days and weeks ahead. 

We thank you again for your patience and understanding during this time and will continue to provide regular updates to families.

David Burton
Acting Principal – Head of Senior Campus

17 March 2020

Dear Woodleigh Families,

An Extraordinary School Leadership Team meeting was held this evening in conjunction with the School Board to review our School’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak and to prepare for the introduction of the Continuous Learning Plan in the event of the physical closure of our campuses to students. The purpose of this letter is to provide a summary of the key decisions of that meeting and to provide further detail on the Continuous Learning Plan following our letter to families yesterday.

The School Leadership Team has reluctantly taken the decision to move to the Continuous Learning Plan from Monday 23 March. In order to finalise staff preparation for the transition and to secure all online learning services,

• our Senior Campus will close to students from 3.45pm tomorrow, Wednesday 18 March

• the School’s Minimbah and Penbank campuses will close to students from 3.30pm on Thursday 19 March.

The COVID-19 outbreak poses an unprecedented challenge to our community and we have been very grateful for the support and understanding of parents, students and staff as we grapple with this situation. We have sought expert external advice throughout this process. Although Woodleigh has had no confirmed cases of COVID-19, this decision was influenced by the surge in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Victoria as well as the Victorian Government' s decision to declare a State of Emergency. We are also mindful of the advice regarding social distancing as a mitigation measure and we would encourage you to refer to the guidance here. The staggered timetable of student closure reflects the different dynamics of the Senior and Junior campuses and our recognition that families with younger children will need more time to arrange suitable supervision arrangements at home.

This message is the second in a series of communications for families that describes our approach to providing an alternative means of education through implementation of the Continuous Learning Plan. While the School's Continuous Learning Plan does not intend to replicate onsite learning, it does ensure that our staff can continue to deliver rich teaching and learning experiences that are in line with our Woodleigh values and learning principles. These experiences offer authentic opportunities to focus on the development of knowledge, concepts, and skills for all of our students from ECC through to Year 12.

When the plan is activated, we will continue to provide learning programs for our students through the delivery of on-screen and off-screen learning experiences that help connect students to previous learning and the current curriculum. During the early weeks of our implementation, teachers will focus attention on the design and delivery of asynchronous learning engagements. An asynchronous learning environment is one that does not require teachers and students to be online at the same time. Since we anticipate that the pattern of social disruption caused by the spread of COVID-19 will have an impact upon family routines and arrangements, this is an essential part of our Continuous Learning Plan.

The second phase of implementation for the plan will include the introduction of synchronous learning engagements. A synchronous learning environment provides opportunities for students to participate in engagements with their teachers and classmates at an established time to allow for interactions in real time. The decision to move from phase one to phase two of the plan will be informed by the evolving landscape for COVID-19 and its related impact on us.

Additional information about the school’s Continuous Learning Plan will continue to be released over the days ahead. A dedicated website has been developed to support the implementation of the plan and will be shared with parents and students by close of business this Friday. Senior Campus staff will be using Thursday and Friday to finalise preparations for the transition to the plan, with asynchronous learning to commence from next Monday. Junior Campus staff will be using Friday and Monday for the transition to the plan, with asynchronous learning to commence from next Tuesday.

While the school appreciates that families will continue to have many questions about this topic, we ask for your support in holding off on further enquiries until after the full release of information to the school community.

While we understand that this decision will cause inconvenience to families, we have been heartened by the support and well wishes of the Woodleigh community during this challenging time. We thank you again for your patience and understanding.

Vanessa Gabriel 
Chair of the Board

David Burton 
Acting Principal – Head of Senior Campus

Richard Owens 
Director of Learning, Strategy and Innovation

16 March 2020

Dear Woodleigh Families,

This message is the first in a series of communications for families that will describe our commitment to providing an alternative means of education in the form of the Woodleigh School Continuous Learning Plan.

The plan provides detail about how the school’s learning programs will continue in a scenario where we are required to physically close our campuses. 

It reflects our belief that,

  • as a community, we should think differently in order to effectively respond to challenging circumstances, and
  • be prepared to embrace new opportunities to support student learning.

While the school’s Continuous Learning Plan does not intend to replicate onsite learning, it does ensure that our staff can continue to deliver rich teaching and learning experiences that are in line with our Woodleigh values and learning principles.

In the event of our campuses being closed, we will engage students with learning experiences that continue our planned programs, and help them stay connected with teachers and classmates. These experiences offer authentic opportunities to focus on the development of knowledge, concepts, and skills for all of our students from ECC through to Year 12.

These experiences will continue to combine the focus on academic learning, student engagement, and wellbeing that is at the heart of a Woodleigh Education. We will provide a balance of on-screen and off-screen tasks that help connect students to previous learning and the current curriculum.

As you will be aware, the School Leadership Team has been closely monitoring the rapidly evolving landscape for the COVID-19 virus over recent weeks. While this unprecedented situation will present many challenges for our community, please be assured that our school and academic leadership teams have been diligently working to consider a variety of possible scenarios. Our aim has been to ensure we are prepared to offer a full range of support for students, parents and families in the weeks ahead. During this time, a clear priority for our work has been making preparations to ensure that learning for our students can continue beyond the physical closure of our campuses.

Additional information about the school’s Continuous Learning Plan will be released over the course of the week and, as required, in response to the rapidly evolving community context in which we live. A dedicated website has been developed to support the implementation of the plan and will soon go live for the school community. In the next message for families, we will provide further advice about how to access the site, along with detail about how we can best support each other, in the case that the school needs to implement the plan.

While the school appreciates that families will have many questions about this topic, we ask for your support in holding off on further enquiries until after the next release of information to the school community.

We thank you again for your patience and support at this challenging time.

David Burton
Acting Principal – Head of Senior Campus

Richard Owens
Director of Learning, Strategy and Innovation

14 March 2020

​Dear Woodleigh families,

I wanted to give an update to all families, with additional guidance on COVID-19 following further information over the last few days. I am grateful for your patience as we navigate this evolving and complex situation.

Woodleigh’s Exposure to COVID-19

I want to reassure families that, to the best of our knowledge, no member of the Woodleigh community (staff, student or parent) has tested positive for COVID-19, despite some rumours and misinformation being spread. If you believe that you or household members are beginning to show symptoms of the virus or if someone with whom you have had close contact has been diagnosed with COVID-19, you must notify the School immediately and take all necessary medical advice.   

Latest Advice

Following meetings with state premiers, senior ministers and health authorities, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced that ‘non-essential’ organised mass gatherings of more than 500 people will be banned across Australia from Monday in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19. Schools and universities are not included in the ban and consequently the three campuses of Woodleigh will be open for business on Monday. However, the situation has been fluid since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a global pandemic and recently within Victoria we have seen the closure of several schools and the release of a COVID-19 Pandemic Plan for the Victorian Health Sector by the Victorian Government. As advice changes, we will continue to keep our community informed through direct communication, as well as through the school’s web site.


We are also adding resources and links to the web site. Here you will find the latest information from organisations such as the Department of Health, Smartraveller and the Department of Education along with copies of our most recent direct correspondence. You may also find this video from psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg particularly useful when discussing COVID-19 with children at home.

Potential School Closure

Over the coming days and weeks, we will continue to provide additional guidance as the likelihood of a school closure increases. It is important that we continue to develop our contingency plan should a school closure be required.

Should a member of our community test positive this would result in an immediate closure of the school. Any decision regarding the large-scale closure of schools will be made by the Victorian Department of Education.

A school closure would mean a shift to Online Learning. A lot of work is being done in the background to develop an Online Learning Plan, which will provide guidance to families and students and recommendations for staff, students and their parents. Students have been advised to take home all devices and resources. They should then only bring in the resources they require for a specific school day. In the event of school closure, we will, in all likelihood, implement a transition period of 2-3 days to support staff and may possibly also introduce a student-free day for Senior Campus staff to support this transition. Advance notice will be given if this occurs. Senior Campus will operate a normal class timetable on Tuesday 17th March following the postponement of parent-student teacher sessions.

School Events

At this stage, all School excursions and incursions across the three campuses for the remainder of Term 1 have been cancelled, including those scheduled as part of the Senior Campus ‘Activities’ program. The Year 10 Hattah camp, planned for departure next week has also been cancelled, with the School investigating future opportunities with our external providers. Year 10 students should attend school as usual during Weeks 8 and 9, whether at school or online in the event of school closure.  As we continue to monitor the rapidly changing situation closely, arrangements for Term 2 events may change and we will continue to review those in the days and weeks ahead.

Health and Hygiene

Please refer to the guidance provided in my last letter home.

Travel Advice

The Australian Government is actively discouraging ‘non-essential’ overseas travel and I would encourage families to exercise great caution if travelling abroad over the Easter holiday period. The school has now also ceased overseas exchange programs for the foreseeable future.

Families should make sure that any child returning from mainland China  from 1 February, Iran from 1 March, Republic of Korea from 5 March, or Italy from 11 March, is isolated at home and should not attend school until 14 days after they were last in mainland China, Iran, the Republic of Korea or Italy. This advice also applies to any impacted staff.

We also require members of the community to notify us if they have also been in close proximity with someone who has returned from mainland China, Iran, the Republic of Korea or Italy. We have been advised that we need to make a full risk assessment on anyone who has been in direct contact with someone returning from any of these 4 countries, particularly someone within their household.


I will continue to communicate on a regular basis with the school community via email, as will Junior Heads of Campus. Please pay close attention to emails as well as SMS updates. We have set up a dedicated email account for family enquiries regarding the virus. Parents email with any information or questions relating to COVID-19.

Please follow normal procedures with regard to student absence notifications. Please contact Reception before 9.30am on any day of absence.

Many thanks again for your support during this very challenging time.

Acting Principal– Head of Senior Campus

10 March 2020

Dear Woodleigh community,

Earlier this term I wrote to all families with guidance on the Coronavirus, now known as COVID-19.

You will be aware that, at the time of writing, there are well in excess of 100,000 cases of Coronavirus reported around the globe.  Consequently, the School is planning for scenarios that are no longer merely a hypothetical. We will continue to be operating in a very fluid and changing environment. Our role is to remain balanced in our outlook and continue to make decisions focusing on the welfare of our students based on the most recent available information.  You may also find the attached information from our Employee Assistance Program helpful.

We have, since the outbreak was confirmed, followed Australian Government, Department of Health, Department of Education and Training and Independent Schools Victoria updates. The following mandates will be followed by the School as per protocols laid out by regulatory authorities.   

Students or staff cannot attend school or preschool if they have:

  • left, or transited through mainland China in the last 14 days (they must isolate themselves for 14 days from leaving mainland China)
  • left, or transited through Iran on or after 1 March (they must isolate themselves until 14 days after leaving Iran)
  • left, or transited through the Republic of Korea on or after 5 March (they must isolate themselves until 14 days after leaving the Republic of Korea)
  • left, or transited through Italy on or after 11 March (they must isolate themselves until 14 days after leaving Italy)
  • been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus in the last 14 days (they must isolate themselves for 14 days after the date of last contact with the confirmed case).

If you are returning from these countries, you need to monitor your health for the next 14 days. If you believe that you are beginning to show symptoms of the virus, please contact your GP immediately. If you, or someone with whom you have had close contact with, has been diagnosed with COVID-19, please notify the School immediately and take all necessary medical advice.   

In order to minimise any risk to our school community the following is provided for your information. 

The spread of coronavirus can be prevented by practising good hand hygiene and sneeze/cough hygiene. It is the best defence against most viruses:

  • wash hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet
  • cover coughs and sneezes, dispose of tissues, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • and if unwell, avoid contact with others (touching, kissing, hugging, and other intimate contact).  

Current symptoms of Coronavirus COVID-19 include, but are not limited to fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath. If a student or staff member develops mild symptoms, they should:

  • Isolate themselves from others at home and use a separate bathroom if available:
  • Put on a surgical mask and if they don't have one, practise good sneeze/cough hygiene:
  • Practise good hand hygiene: and
  • Call a doctor or hospital and tell them the recent travel or close contact history.

If they have serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing, call 000, ask for an ambulance and notify the officers of the recent travel or close contact history. 

In the event that a student becomes unwell whilst at school we will need to request that Parents collect the student from school.   

It is likely that in the coming weeks and months, someone within our school community may be directly impacted by coronavirus COVID-I9. Therefore, the School Leadership Team has developed a contingency plan aimed at minimising and managing the impact that such an event would inflict. Some of the initiatives currently in place or in development include:

  • Improved hygiene practices across all campuses with increased cleaning schedules and more thorough cleaning being undertaken – including the disinfecting of handrails and doorknobs.
  • Implementing a formal process for managing an event where a student or staff informs the school of a positive diagnosis of Coronavirus COVID-19.
  • Avoiding person to person physical contact where possible (such as handshakes)
  • Developing an online teaching and learning plan for anyone unable to attend normal classes.
  • Developing a wider-school quarantine plan in the event that multiple members of the student population are infected.
  • Updating the school website with the latest school communications.
  • Preparing for a scenario where the school is obliged to close for a period of time with continuous learning to be delivered through our online platforms.

As events continue to unfold the School will consistently review and improve its approach to identifying potential risks and implementing mitigation activities as more becomes known of the virus.   

May I also respectfully suggest that all families look carefully at their own non-urgent personal travel plans and/or holidays in the coming months. You may also wish to consult your own insurers if you have overseas travel booked. You need to be cognisant that if you choose to visit a restricted area on a family holiday, then the School expects that this will be declared and that we may have to impose the mandatory 14-day isolation period, or at a very minimum a medical clearance before your son or daughter can return to school.   

If you require further information about COVID-19 please visit the Department of Health website by following this link.

Further information for schools and early childhood centres, students and their parents from the Department of Health is also attached. 

Many thanks for your support during this challenging time.

David Burton
Acting Principal - Head of Senior Campus

*Woodleigh School will expand the list of countries in accordance with updated Government and Department of Health advice.

Coping with the Novel Coronavirus – Information Flyer

COVID-19 Information for Schools and Early Childhood Centres

Tips on what to tell your children about Coronavirus

School TV Special Report – Coronavirus

ISV – Independent Schools Victoria – Advice for Parents

Australian Government Department of Health – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health Alert

Victorian Department of Health and Human Services Coronavirus Updates

Victorian Department of Health and Human Services – About Coronavirus

Dear Woodleigh Community,

​We are very pleased to announce that the Board has appointed Mr David Baker as the new Principal of Woodleigh School, commencing in Term 2, 2020.

As testament to Woodleigh's standing in the education sector, the position attracted an exceptionally strong field of final candidates, including existing Principals and Deputies from local, interstate and overseas schools.  After a thorough and detailed sounding, search, selection and interview process, the Board resolved that David Baker is the community minded, progressive, experiential and holistic educator to lead us in the next phase of Woodleigh’s development. David is very familiar with Woodleigh and its educational philosophy. He grew up on the Mornington Peninsula and is very excited to be returning to a place he holds so dear.

David has been Principal of Gippsland Grammar, a multi-campus school, for the past seven years and brings with him 28 years of education experience from Mentone Grammar as Deputy Principal, Peninsula Grammar as Head of Senior School and Head of Middle School and Wesley College as a VCE/IB Physics Teacher. He is deeply committed to coeducation, is an impressive strategic thinker and already has a strong understanding of the forward facing, student centred and personalised nature of a Woodleigh education. David believes students and staff flourish in a school where they have a sense of belonging and connectedness and that Woodleigh is a school that nurtures that sense, ignites a passion for learning and allows students to be individuals.

We are looking forward to David, his wife Jane and their family joining the Woodleigh community and experiencing all the opportunities it has to offer.

We are also pleased to announce that David Burton will be Acting Principal from December 2019 and has already commenced the handover process. David is well known to you all as Head of Senior Campus. He has a deep knowledge of our community and has held the Acting Principal position in the past.

Thank you to all that have provided input during the selection process. We look forward in Term 4, to celebrating the year that has been, farewelling Jonathan Walter and acknowledging his achievements and contemplating the exciting future ahead.  

Yours sincerely,

Vanessa Gabriel
Board Chair

Musical theatre is playful. Often, musicals work with stereotypes or caricatures of parts of our society.

Legally Blonde confronts many social stereotypes. This does not mean that the stereotypes are being endorsed, in fact it is often the reverse – they are being held up as a mirror reflecting aspects of society’s narrower attitudes so that the audience can reflect on their own preconceptions. As much fun as Legally Blonde is, the show also confronts some outdated patriarchal themes. The musical even portrays some characters whose thoughts and behaviour go against modern values, such as the “#MeToo” movement. Ultimately, Elle is successful because she is kind, considerate of others, a strong leader and intelligent. This is a Woodleigh kind of story! 

After countless hours of rehearsals... all the work on perfecting dance steps, vocals, jokes and sight gags. All the little fixes, picking up missed lines and getting that timing just right... ALL THAT WORK... has well and truly paid off!

Congratulations to the cast, crew, band and staff on a fun and hilarious production!

​A big shout out and thank you to everyone who made it to this year's Beanie Festival! Such a great celebration of culture, creativity and craft, food, and feel-good fun!

Events like this don't happen without the support of a huge band of supporters, students, staff and most importantly, parents and community members. (Special mention must go to Cathy and Jacki for their drive and stewardship of the event over the past four years!) 
So to all of you, a big warm hug of thanks and appreciation for your time, effort and talent! All funds raised go toward the Indigenous Community Partnerships Fund – more feel-good vibes right there!

​A big thank you to all of the parents and friends who made it to Saturday's Comedy Night #8!

Fiona O'Loughlin and Des Dowling were absolute gold!
Beyond the hilarity, we also managed to make some money to support the Minimbah Campus PFG. 👍😂💰🤣👍
Thank you to all the generous supporters who donated goods and services to the auctions and raffle!

​Two BIG student-driven community awareness initiatives happened at the Senior Campus this week.

The first, the 'Big Buy Back' sought to re-home over 300kg of clothing, shoes and other personal effects from the tardis that is the lost property box, to avoid it going to waste!

The second, was last night's 'Big Sleep Out' which was designed to give an insight into the hardships that many school-aged people in our community face day to day. Featuring guest speakers from local support agencies, the event highlighted the many issues related to a transient, uncertain life, either on the streets, temporary accommodation or crisis care.

Congratulations to Francesca (Y11), Maks (Y12), Raia (Y10) and Dylan (Y12) for your leadership with these programs!

Sophie, Lola, Lily, Jackson, Tom, Olivia, Bridget and Will from the Round Square Activity group at Minimbah Campus organised a Pyjama Day!
Instead of a gold coin donation, students had to donate a new pair of pyjamas, socks, undies or slippers, with all goods going to the local Mums Supporting Families In Need Inc. charity.
MSFIN is a volunteer-run charity assisting Victoria's most disadvantaged families with their material needs. Congratulations to these Year 5 and 6 students for helping to make sure that fewer local children will go without the essentials this winter.

Did you see it? The performance? Were you there? Or the livestream? Did you see that? It's available you know... Or you can just take in these images from last night's splendiferous Senior Campus Winter Musicale - a true showcase of Woodleigh's musical talent, from Year 7 through to Year 12.

Classical, solo, Jazz, Rock, Choral... it goes on, and it goes well. 
Thank you and farewell too, to one of the most delightful people of the Jago universe (and that is saying something), Merilyn Green. After 20 years as the Music Secretary at Woodleigh, she is sailing into retirement... best wishes and love from us all!

Woodleigh School has been taking the lead in 'Reimagining the educational pathway for Senior Secondary students. On the Saturday before Camp Week, we created an opportunity for educators from government and private sectors to come together to reimagine a better way. This session involved over 80 participants in a generative dialogue punctuated by provocations from a range of local and international guest experts who gave their time and expertise to be a part of this exciting forward-thinking discussion. 

The beauty of this initiative was in the fact that it moved the group of educators, entrepreneurs, business and thought leaders into a space that was non-competitive, and the dialogue was set up in such a way that all people involved had a voice and opportunity to contribute to the future direction. We look forward to this being the start of real system change which will result in not just a tweaking of the system but rather a Reimagining of what education can and should be to best prepare our students for the future.

I am grateful to a number of staff who played a key role in developing this day; Richard Owens, Lance Pilgrim, David Burton, Laura Maasburg, Lauren Green, Adam Liddiard, Lachie Waite, Kristen Guthrie, Brett Standham and Cameron Blew. I would also like to acknowledge and thank Bianca Julicher, Bonnie Daniello, Grace Learmonth and Remi Chynoweth for running their student enterprise projects on the day, which gave us all a real insight into what is possible from our creative kids when given the opportunity to follow a passion.

I invite you to view the video which offers a window into the day. 

Jonathan Walter

We were delighted to welcome special guests and visitors to Woodleigh School during National Reconciliation Week. At the Penbank Campus we welcomed Wugularr School teacher, Mitch Noy, and teacher assistants, Libby Turner and Lucas George, to our school. Their visit was a part of a teacher exchange with Wugularr School. In return, Lorraine Ford and Chris Dinnage travelled to Wugularr to mentor staff. A most successful time for teachers to model practice and brainstorm ideas, we also enjoyed the times when Libby and Lucas shared their culture with children through art, drama and storytelling.

From Stephen’s perspective (Wugularr School Principal) he would like to see this professional exchange occur more often. Stephen highly valued the expertise of our staff, especially learning about our processes for creating an active learning environment through inquiry and planning.

The Reconciliation Week Dinner was also a delightful evening. Held at Minimbah, it was a pleasure to share with families and friends the relationships that are deeply embedded through the school’s partnerships with Northern Territory communities, Wugularr, Laynhapuy, Ampilatwatja and locally, Willum Warrain. 

Students and teachers expressed their commitment to Reconciliation, and we were all thrilled to hear Jonathan announce the implementation of the Woodleigh RAP (Reconciliation Action Plan) and the establishment of the Woodleigh Indigenous Education Fund. It was very impressive to see everyone provide feedback and input to the RAP following Jonathan’s address. Guest speaker, AJ Williams-Chen, spoke of the importance of sharing stories. AJ shared his personal story – a challenging story common to many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Embracing the National Reconciliation Week theme, AJ’s presentation was certainly ‘grounded in truth.’ For us as a school, we proudly ‘walk together with courage.’

Thank you to the many students and staff members who were involved in creating this very special event; and thank you for joining us.

I was one of the students who had the opportunity to be a Barraza leader at the Woodleigh Round Square Conference. Being a Barraza leader meant that my partner and I were leading a small group of students on discussions about various topics, whilst playing games to have some fun.

After we had listened to a speaker or had some activities, all of the students would break into our groups and discuss what we had just learned about. We used the games to make everyone feel comfortable and get to know each other. Once we had achieved this, we had some really valuable conversations about how we could apply what we were learning at Round Square into our schools and communities. In my group, there was a mixture of personalities which made some tasks hard, but I was glad to see that by the end of the week everyone seemed to be quite comfortable. My group also had people from a diverse range of countries which gave me lots of perspectives on how different countries deal with environmental issues.

During the conference, we had lots of opportunities to participate in activities. My favourite was the Monash Precious Plastics. They are a group of students from Monash University who have created a machine that turns plastic waste into usable items. They explained the processes of cleaning the plastic and sorting it into groups so that it can be used by the machine. This way of thinking has really intrigued me and has made me interested in the ways in which we could recycle our plastic waste into useful items. I really enjoyed being able to talk to people from around the world and I feel that Round Square is a one of a kind experience that I am grateful to have been a part of.

Owen Kirschenberg
Year 10

Surf, food, nature and sunsets... Twice a year, lessons at Senior Campus stop for Camp Week – a critical part of the educational experience offered at Woodleigh!

Our Homestead Camp and Activities Week Programs offer a week-long, immersive program where students are directly engaged in real-world learning. Out of the classroom and working together, Woodleigh students have a chance to live by the consequences of their actions and, as a result of the 24/7 nature of the experience, develop deeper relationships with their peers, while connecting with staff on another level. 

Collaboration and teamwork are non-negotiable! As a result of the challenges faced by students, they stretch beyond their usual boundaries, developing new skills, resiliency and taking the opportunity to put their personal values into action.

In celebrating the class of 2018, we celebrate students who, in Jack Hall’s words, “challenge boundaries; see obstacles as opportunities; see the world not as an object of someone else’s design but a deeply fulfilling journey of self-discovery, that is theirs for the taking.”

They are deep thinkers, hard workers who have each other’s backs. As Liv Mauerhofer said, “Community has always been something that Woodleigh has fostered to connect each and every one of us. From programs within Homestead, to Outward Bound, Hattah, the Indigenous and International exchanges and the Homework and Learning Club. These not only nurture this sense of community, but a global awareness and inherent respect for others.”

2018 Woodleigh Prize Winners (LtoR):
Jack Hall, Liv Mauerhofer and Amy Youngman with Director of Senior Homestead, Laurent Julicher and Jonathan Walter, Principal.

The maturity with which our students face the world is something that sets Woodleigh students apart. As Amy Youngman reminded us last night, “Woodleigh has helped develop the values of awareness, empathy, resilience and respect. Tools that equip us well and will no doubt be put into action for our many life paths and choices ahead.”

2018 Faculty Prize Winners (LtoR):
Oly Bugg – Arts Faculty (shared), Remi Chynoweth – Arts Faculty (shared) and LOTE Faculty, Jacob Plummer – Humanities Faculty, Ruby Crofts – Maths and Science Faculties, Jonathan Walter – Principal, Amy Youngman – Personal Development Faculty, Jack Hall – English Faculty, David Burton – Deputy Principal, Head of Senior Campus 

Congratulations to the Class of 2018. May your individual journeys be exciting, challenging and fulfilling. The past six years at Woodleigh, developing, growing and learning have led you to this moment, you can now take on the world, confident in your own strength and skills.

Adam Liddiard – Director of Community Relations  with thanks to Woodleigh Prize Winners Jack Hall, Liv Mauerhofer and Amy Youngman

2018 Principal's Award Winners (LtoR):
Jonathan Walter – Principal, Isaac Yeong, Adelaide Robertson, Tom Poyser, Lachlan Evenden, Ruby Crofts, David Burton – Deputy Principal, Head of Senior Campus, Sarah Claxton-Vicars, Oly Bugg, Cas Baptist 

The Multicultural Youth (MY) Education Awards recognise excellence in the learning support sector. The Awards showcase outstanding contributions students, schools and Out-of-School-Hours Learning Support Programs make to the learning and engagement of students from migrant and refugee backgrounds in Victoria. Woodleigh's Homework and Learning Support Initiative (in partnership with the Brotherhood of St Lawrence and MiCare) received the Runners Up Award for Outstanding School-run Out of School Hours Learning Support Program.

Liah Muot accepts the award on behalf of the Homework and Learning Support Initiative. 

The Awards were presented at the Immigration Museum on 17 October. Woodleigh staff member Liah Muot (Youth Liaison – Homework and Learning Support Initiative) proudly accepted the award on behalf of the Homework and Learning Support Initiative.

You can read more about the Awards here.
Congratulations to everyone involved!

The VCE Season of Excellence is a five-month annual arts festival showcasing outstanding senior secondary student work from Victorian schools. The Season presents works created by VCE students in design, technology, multimedia and the cinematic, visual and performing arts through exhibitions, screenings and performances.

This year, we are proud to announce that six Woodleigh students have been selected to share their work at the festival. Congratulations to all!


Savanna Hopkinson and Alex Syme (Y12 2017)

Alexandra Syme
Suburban landscape 2017
enamel paint on stoneware
13.0 x 70.0 x 70.0 cm (variable)

Suburban landscape investigates the concepts of perception and reality. The didactic forms and loud contrasting colours provided by the materials help to reflect an idea of a child’s building blocks but also of a bustling suburbia. The strength and sturdy aesthetic of the white raku clay help to amplify the idea of buildings. Through this, the sculpture aims to explore naive perceptions of perfection within the space and structures, revealing the flaws intrinsic in space. (Text from NGV Top Arts website.)

Savanna Hopkinson
Equilibria – Phenomena 2017
charcoal and oxide stain on porcelain, cotton (thread), synthetic polymer paint on composition board
180.0 x 78.8 x 40.2 cm (overall)

For Equilibria – Phenomena I wanted to convey that the negatives and positives in life balance each other out. This has provided the conceptual foundation for this artwork, culminating in the beauty and necessity of imperfection and the beautiful, ambivalent perfection it ultimately creates. (Text from NGV Top Arts website.)

Please visit the Top Arts 2018 exhibition and support Sav, Alex and Woodleigh at the NGV Australia, Federation Square, Ground level, NGV Design Studio, 23 March–15 July. Open 10am–5pm daily. Free admission.

Congratulations, Sav and Alex!

TOPshots 2017

Cameron Myers (Y12 2017)

Congratulations to past student Cam Myers (Y12, 2017) for being selected to include his 'Pier' photography in the 2017 Monash Gallery of Art TOPshots exhibition. 

‘Moonlit Portsea Jetties’ Photographic print on pearl photographic paper 59cm x 59cm 

Cam has been experimenting more and more often, using the moon as the main/only source of light in his images. In his 'Moonlit' series he has used a full moon with long exposures to illuminate his landscape images. These images were taken between 10.30pm and 12am. 


Ashley Scott (Y12 2017)

The Premier's VCE Awards recognises outstanding results of individual students. Ash's 2017 Unit 3-4 Business Management achievements were celebrated as among the very best in the state of Victoria. 

The award ceremony was held on Tuesday 15 May at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. But in typical Woodleigh style, Ash was busy volunteering in the UK and couldn't attend the ceremony. We wish her all the best for a safe and successful trip, and congratulate her on this impressive achievement.


Alex Ferguson (Y12 2017)

Dux of the Class of 2017, Alex Ferguson was selected to perform his original Music Investigation composition ‘La Valise’ at the VCAA Season of Excellence ‘Top Class Sound’ event at the Melbourne Recital Centre on Friday 23 February. 


Tom Poyser (Y12 2018)

Congratulations also go to Tom Poyser (Y12 2018), who was selected to perform at Top Class Music at the Melbourne Recital Centre on Tuesday 6 March. 


Both Top Class Music and Top Class Sound feature the work of incredible students who received very high grades for their VCE performance examinations in 2017. The performances are compered by Assessors and the VCAA’s Curriculum Manager for the Performing Arts, and both Alex and Tom should be incredibly proud of their achievements.

I have such a privileged position here at Woodleigh. I am lucky enough to be able to see students excel and demonstrate skills and leadership that was not always evident before in the classroom. I hear stories from parents about how their children returned from a program ‘…a little bit less of a child and a little bit more of an adult.’ I read comments from students in their reflections and chat to them back at school about how what they have just done was ‘…their best experience at Woodleigh.’

Having just finished Hattah, I witnessed some phenomenal displays of physical and emotional strength and of students validating what the culmination of the Woodleigh Outdoor Education program can achieve. The staff who were lucky enough to participate were amazed at the competence and sheer grit that the current Year 10s displayed during their time in that magical place. It was hot, it rained, it was windy, some did not pack enough food, the blisters were plentiful, backs were sore, spinifex was spikey and flies were persistent. Through all of this, we saw a group of young women and men look after each other, make real decisions for themselves with real consequences and grow in confidence as they realised they really did have the skills and knowledge to be able to look after themselves in the bush. This level of cohesiveness and resolve bodes well not just for VCE, but also for life beyond secondary school.

This has also led me to reflect on the Woodleigh Outdoor Education program as a whole. With myself and Nick Harrison being new to the roles of Director and Deputy Director of Outdoor Education, and Activities Week coming up in August, we have considered why it is that we do what we do. We keep coming back to this idea of grit; the perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a particular long-term goal. The overcoming of obstacles or challenges that lie on the path to accomplishment. (Thanks Wikipedia!) 

I think grit is at the core of Outdoor Education at Woodleigh. Students have grit when they participate in a camp that is outside their comfort zone. They show grit when they doggedly practise and learn a new skill. It takes grit to work with a  group of people who they don’t know very well. Outdoor Education at Woodleigh plays a vital role in the development of this essential skill.

And so, to students, with the Activities Week ballot coming out in the middle of this term, I encourage you to think about balloting for camps which will allow you to show some ‘grit’ and to be aware that there are still fantastic learning opportunities in not being given your first preference. Base your ballot on what inspires you, not on what your friends are doing. And, to parents, I ask that you counsel your children as they are balloting and be on board with the importance of the program and that there are fantastic opportunities in all of the camps Woodleigh has to offer. I look forward to hearing more stories and reading more reflections at the end of Term 3.

Andrew Peach Director of Outdoor Education

This is a time of enormous change in education, driven by massive technological, societal and cultural transformation. To keep pace, schools need to shift from looking backward, to facing forward – preparing children for their futures, not our past.

As workforce needs evolve, what employers now need are people who can apply knowledge and manipulate it in creative ways – people who can solve problems and develop solutions. Increasingly important are communication, critical thinking, complex problem-solving and vocational skills – to do all those jobs that robots can’t.

At Woodleigh, we see the development of academic learning, personal wellbeing, and student engagement as interdependent. Our approach to teaching is paced to students' learning needs, tailored to their learning preferences, and built around their specific interests and passions. 

But education should not just be about getting a job.

It’s about developing young people with character, people who are concerned, ethically conscious citizens committed to making the world a better place. At Woodleigh, we offer a real experience of life. We want students to be productive, to make things, to learn in a variety of settings, to practise the process of drafting and refinement in an effort to create work they are proud of, works of excellence. Work that will have a positive impact on the world.

Jonathan Walter

The careers of today’s students will be very different to those experienced by the vast majority of their parents. And in their future, the world will be one where ‘soft skills’ – capabilities like problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, emotional intelligence and sound judgement – will be more critical than ever before.

As workplaces and careers become more fluid; the ability to adapt and have the foresight to understand what the next change will be, will be a distinguishing factor. And while automation will replace many jobs, these key, human skills are irreplaceable and will only become more important professional assets.

Yet in many cases, schools place little importance on the development and acquisition of these skills. At Woodleigh however, our curriculum is structured to provide students with opportunities to develop what we see as essential skills for living. From ECC to VCE, age and stage appropriate programs which include Outdoor Education and Camp Programs, the Activities Program, Round Square and Exchange Opportunities and a variety of Service Learning opportunities develop these essentially human skillsets in our students.

What makes these learning experiences so powerful is the fact that they engage students in the real world. By working to solve real problems and then presenting their findings to real audiences, our students connect deeply with their learning – they are empowered to find their voice and be active in their learning, rather than solely being acted upon.

In a world which no longer rewards people for what they know, but for what they can do with what they know, it is these human skills that will enable our young people to be adaptable and successful. We are proud to see our students taking responsibility for the choices they make and bringing about positive change in the world through their learning.

Jonathan Walter

Between the Bays Festival 2018 was another incredible day. It showcased the amazing talents of our students as well as some of Australia’s best professional musicians. I think we all love Dan Sultan a little bit more now. The festival also brought us together as one school community. Thank you all for your support.

We enjoyed the Peninsula’s best food and wine whilst picnicking amongst the beautiful gardens and surrounds. Families relaxed whilst children ran and played together, taking part in activities, rides and workshops. Between the Bays is the perfect event to get to know other families within our Woodleigh community.

The quality of our student performances on the stage was outstanding and I congratulate and thank White Ivy, Crocs In Socks, Aurelia P., Tabitha P. and the Woodleigh School Choir. Thank you also to Andy Khoza and Jeff Box for arranging the student performances. 

Between the Bays is an amazing day for our school with all funds raised going towards our Community Fund. This fund helps support the various programs and partnerships Woodleigh School has with remote and local Indigenous communities, the Sudanese Homework Club and Woodleigh’s Scholarship Program. Between the Bays helped raise just over $14,000 which will be distributed evenly amongst these programs.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank some Woodleigh School families and businesses that we received financial support from. This money helps support the festival and the Community Fund. 

To KISS Print Services, Lloyd Group, Driver Coastal, JJ Richards, Comp Now, Progress Signs and Endota Spa – THANK YOU all for your generous contributions.

Between the Bays Festival will be back in 2019. Keep an eye out for some exciting announcements later in the year. I do encourage you to come along to the next Between the Bays Festival and help support our school community. It is a great day for all!

Paul Thompson
Director of Alumni and School Development

The Woodleigh School Class of 2017 are to be congratulated on their wonderful achievements throughout this year. As Principal, I have been thrilled to watch the way they have worked; maximizing their talents and making the most of the opportunities our School affords its’ students.

As a group, the Class of 2017 have performed incredibly well and they are now well set to follow their chosen, post Woodleigh paths. In 2017:

  • 11.5% of Woodleigh students achieved an ATAR of 95 or more.
  • 23% of Woodleigh students achieved an ATAR of 90 or more.
  • 42.5% of Woodleigh students achieved an ATAR of 80 or more.
  • And 92% of Woodleigh students achieved an ATAR of 50 or more placing them in the top half of the state.

Every student from the Class of 2017 has undertaken a broad range of learning experiences beyond core academia and as a result, leave Woodleigh ready for life. Our efforts throughout the fifteen years of tuition are focused on so much more than what the lens of an ATAR reflects. Our stories of success have never been limited to those who achieve top academic scores, and each year I remind students that an ATAR does not define them as a person. More important to us is the individual growth, the new-found talents, personal bests and the strong sense of self that comes from a Woodleigh education.

LtoR: Jonathan Walter with Alex Ferguson and Anna Van Vliet.

Persistence and consistent application has produced a large number of personal bests, with students achieving results beyond expectations, some against significant personal odds. As a School, we are proud of them all.

This year I am delighted to announce Alex Ferguson as Dux of Woodleigh School for 2017. Alex’s ATAR of 99.65 caps off his outstanding career at Woodleigh School – one that started in 2003 in our Minimbah Campus’ 3-Year-Old ECC program. Throughout his time at the school, Alex’s contribution to the life of Woodleigh has existed well beyond the realms of Academia. His contributions to social justice programs such as the Oaktree Foundation’s Live Below the Line appeal, as well as to the musical and theatrical life of the school, have been phenomenal. He has also excelled academically and can count a perfect study score of 50 in English among his many individual achievements.

Woodleigh Prize winner and VCAA VCE Leadership Award Finalist Anna Van Vliet also achieved an ATAR of more than 99, capping off a year for which she can be hugely proud. I would also like to acknowledge Max Wiggins, Katie Lee, Felix Friedlander, Sean Parker, Ashley Scott, Chelsea Gardner, Ryan Taylor and Ed Wiggins who all achieved scores over 95. Chelsea Gardner and Ashley Scott also both achieved perfect study scores of 50 in Business Management, as did Max Wiggins in History and Alex who excelled with a 50 in English.

Each year Woodleigh School farewells a group of well-rounded, articulate, mature young adults who have developed the confidence and skills necessary to find their way and succeed, whatever their interest or inclination for the future. The investments made by our students, in time and effort, are massive. The work our teachers do, is remarkable. It is most gratifying as their Principal, to see this determination and diligence rewarded.

As a community, we wish all students from the Class of 2017 the very best as they head off to University, TAFE, work, travel and service programs abroad. Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year,

Jonathan Walter – Principal

At our recent Valedictory Ceremony and Dinner, we celebrated the efforts and achievements of the Woodleigh School Class of 2017.

So many of this group, over their time here have taken a stand on issues and articulated what it is that they care about. It is a year level that has impacted our school culture in ways which I hope will last a lifetime.

The Class of 2017 have shown commitment to tackle the big issues. They have challenged the status quo and imagined a better future. These attributes fill us all with enormous hope. They are an exceptional group – as varied in their talents and interests as they will be in their paths beyond the school. Their drive, to strive for personal excellence be it in the Arts, on the Sporting field or in the Academic program – these achievements define both their individual character, and the way they operate as a group.  

As the confines of the school are released and a global world presents itself, we know they will put those skills into action and make a difference.

In her Valedictory speech, Woodleigh Prize Winner Anna Van Vliet reflected on the community who have come together to create this group. “Looking back on it all now I can see just how special Woodleigh is. And how honoured I am to have shared it with all of you. I’ve come to realise that part of the reason Woodleigh is the way it is, is because of the people.”

I agree with Anna, it is “Quite hard to work out what makes Woodleigh, Woodleigh,” but the people and the relationships that exist here at our school are key to the experience of students, staff and parents alike. The experiences we offer and the relationships they build mean that students at Woodleigh understand me when I say that the value of our lives is not determined by what we do for ourselves, but rather what we do for others.

These young adults will not be bystanders who blame the world for the problems we face.  As they leave the safe confines of Woodleigh ready for the excitement and challenge that further study, travel and work present, we wish the Class of 2017 every success in the futures they design for themselves.

Jonathan Walter – Woodleigh School Principal

The Woodleigh Prize

Anna Van Vliet

Award Citation

Anna Van Vliet is an exceptionally talented young woman. She was the recipient of the Year 10 and Year 12 ADF Leadership and Teamwork Awards, the King Constantine Medal for her commitment to, and leadership of, Community Service initiatives, and is a finalist in the 2017 VCAA VCE Leadership Awards. She was awarded the Year 12 Personal Development Faculty Prize.

Her academic award list is impressive indeed. As well as receiving numerous Certificates of Achievement every year of her secondary schooling and a clean sweep of every unit of her VCE, she has been awarded Certificates of Academic Excellence over the past three years.

Anna’s Community Service involvement is unsurpassed. She has given tirelessly to the Brotherhood of St Laurence Homework and Learning Club and to the Oaktree Foundation. She has shown outstanding leadership through the Woodleigh Committee and has volunteered for an endless variety of tasks within the school community, including organising and presenting at Assemblies and speaking or volunteering at parent evenings. Her fundraising efforts for multiple causes are phenomenal.

Anna is not only a fine scholar, but also a young woman with outstanding personal qualities, including passion, empathy, and the drive to make a difference to the world around her. In recognition of her many fine achievements and her enormous contribution to the life of the school community, she is a most worthy recipient of the Woodleigh Prize for the Best All-Round Student in the middle and senior years at Woodleigh School.

Faculty Award Winners

English Katie Lee and Edward Wiggins

Mathematics Sean Parker

Humanities Max Wiggins

Personal Development Anna Van Vliet

Science Felix Friedlander

Arts Alex Ferguson

LOTE Alex Ferguson

Principal's Award Winners

Samantha Beaumont, Alexander Ferguson, Felix Friedlander, Kaya Grocott, Rebecca Gynes, Katie Lee, Ella McCarthy, Alex Simpson, Ryan Taylor, Edward Wiggins and Max Wiggins

ADVENTUROUS MINDS tell important stories.

This week, we were gripped by two captivating performances of the Woodleigh School Production, The Laramie Project. 

The Laramie Project is a play by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project about the reaction to the 1998 murder of University of Wyoming gay student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. It’s a challenging topic for a school production and I’m so proud that our school community has the courage to tackle the themes of hatred, intolerance and bigotry head on. Another underlying theme of the production though is one of ‘HOPE’, modelled so movingly and with such authenticity by our students. I was lucky enough to witness the rehearsals last week, and to see the preview and first night performances this week. It’s an incredible production, and a privilege to be part of a school capable of creating art of such quality and profundity.

The production is a tribute also to the expert guidance of the staff here at Woodleigh, particularly Directors Carey Saunders and Lucy Wharington.

Congratulations to everyone.

David Burton
Head of Campus

Thank you to everyone who made Saturday's Beanie Festival such a wonderful, warm, community-focused event.

To the organisers and volunteers, students, staff and parents – you did a mighty job of bringing the three campuses of Woodleigh School, as well as the wider community together as one whole.

The funds raised have ensured this year's visits by students from Miwatj and Ampilatwatja are fully funded!
Awesome effort! Fantastic fun!

Thank you, and congratulations!

Get all the information at

Recently, four Woodleigh School students competed at the Australian Sport Climbing Youth Nationals event in Melbourne.

Held over three days, across three different climbing gyms, the Youth Nationals featured a different type of climbing each day. More than 200 climbers between the ages of 8 and 18, from all over Australia, competed in the three disciplines of Boulder, Lead and Speed Climbing.

The event also doubled as the selection event for the Australian Youth Team.

It was a very intense competition, both physically and psychologically.

Ned Middlehurst finished 1st in Boulder, 1st in Lead and 2nd in Speed in his age group (Youth A, 16-17 year olds). He also came 1st in the Overall Rankings, a result calculated by combining each athletes ranking from the three disciplines.

Ned’s results mean that he has now been selected for the Australian Team. He will be competing at the World Youth Championships later this year in Innsbruck, Austria.

Our other students competing in the championships, and their results were:

Edward Lewis – Youth B Boulder – 20th Lead – 18th

Will Marsh – Youth B Boulder – 22nd Lead – 6th

Oscar Landman – Youth A  Boulder – 10th Lead – 10th

Ned Middlehurst – Youth A Boulder – 1st  Lead – 1st

Photo Credit:

Strong demand for a Woodleigh education has seen growing enrolments at all three campuses of our School. With four full Year 6 classes now moving from Minimbah and Penbank to Year 7 at Woodleigh, opportunities for Year 7 entry have become increasingly difficult to secure.

In order to cater for those families seeking a Woodleigh education for their child’s secondary years, the School Board and I have decided to add an additional Year 7 class in 2019. Ultimately leading to a larger student population (currently 600, projected to increase to 725 in six years’ time), the additional student numbers will support our endeavours to broaden the range of educational experiences on offer, while bringing further strength and diversity to our learning community.

We welcome enquiries regarding these, and other new opportunities at Woodleigh School. For further information about our programs and philosophy, Information Evenings and Campus Tours, please see our website or call the Enrolments Office on 5971 6100.

Jonathan Walter

I was first introduced to Woodleigh School when my brother started Year 7 way back in 2005. I still remember, at the age of seven, looking forward to the day when I entered a school where the possibilities seemed endless.

While my brother and I may have had different experiences once we entered into the school, they were equally amazing. This I attribute to one of Woodleigh’s core principles: equality.

Woodleigh values equality, not just between genders but across all boards. This is a school where there are many and varied pathways to success, with the freedom for students to forge their own.

My interests have always been very diverse, and this was supported at all times in both my academic and creative studies. Acceleration opportunities in Mathematics and the Sciences allowed me to expand my mind intellectually, while the Activities Program and Arts subjects allowed for my creativity to flourish.

The love for learning that is cultivated at Woodleigh crosses all classes and curriculum areas. Teachers and staff understand the diversity of interests that students have and accommodate them. My own VCE was a broad and disparate mix: Maths Methods, Chemistry and Biology, as well as English, History Revolutions and Studio Arts. I loved every one and had fantastic teachers for all.

I thrived at Woodleigh and I know that many of my female friends felt the same way. The co-ed environment produces driven, confident, and intelligent young women who know how to respond to the challenges of a co-ed world. Woodleigh’s sense of community creates a support structure that encourages high achievement, personal bests and hard work, regardless of gender or interest. And they are great people! Without the support of my friends … many of whom are guys … I would not have achieved the VCE results that I did last year.

The Woodleigh School environment is one where all young people are encouraged to be strong, resilient and innovative – boys and girls alike.

Katherine Robertson –

2016 Dux of Woodleigh School
99.65 ATAR – Perfect study scores
of 50 in both English and Studio Arts.

Current AFL Arts Trainee @ Woodleigh

Twice a year, lessons at Woodleigh Campus stop for what I and our teachers regard as a critical part of the educational experience offered at Woodleigh.

Our Homestead Camp and Activities Week Programs offer a week-long, immersive program where students are directly engaged in real-world learning. Out of the classroom and working together, Woodleigh students have a chance to live by the consequences of their actions and, as a result of the 24/7 nature of the experience, develop deeper relationships with their peers, while connecting with staff on another level.

Collaboration and teamwork are non-negotiable. Ask any Outward Bound veteran! And as a result of the challenges faced by students they stretch beyond their usual boundaries, developing new skills, resiliency and taking the opportunity to put their personal values into action.

Last term I had the great pleasure to once again journey the Overland Track in Tasmania with a group of Year 11 and 12 students. Our route of some 80 kilometres took us through some of this country’s most pristine and spectacular wilderness. Seeing students working to support each other was most rewarding. Refreshing too was watching them connect with and appreciate the natural environment, while finding new ways to chill out and play without the distraction or aid of technology.

Once again, our students were a true credit to our School. Their interactions with other hikers along the track, and the way in which they respectfully supported them on their journey, made me very proud.

Woodleigh is the only school I know of where all teachers take an active role in delivering the School’s Camp Program. I want to thank all the staff for their amazing work that ensures we are able to offer these transformational learning opportunities so regularly for all our students as they journey through Woodleigh.

Jonathan Walter – Principal

​Students, staff and families from the three campuses of Woodleigh School came together in the Bush Chapel at Woodleigh Campus for our traditional Carols performance and nativity play.

After two years where poor weather has forced us indoors, it was wonderful to again be outdoors for this event which heralds the coming of Christmas and the festive season, reminding us of the joys of friends, family and giving.

Choral performances by students from all campuses were punctuated by student reflections, poem recitals and an inspiring speech by Year 11 student Ed Wiggins on why he continues to dedicate his time and efforts toward supporting the Homework and Learning Club in Frankston.

But as is the case every year, it was the Minimbah students and their Nativity performance which stole the show!

Thank you to all who joined with us to celebrate Christmas at Woodleigh.


Ladies and gentleman, Woodleigh School proudly presents the Minimbah Campus Year 5/6 Camp video.

Starring... Years 5&6, staff and the Licola Camp dogs.

Many thanks to Mr Hicks whose immeasurable skills made it happen!

It’s a bittersweet thing seeing Year 12s finish.

Six years is a long time.

We spend it watching, supporting and guiding the way for young people, who pay us back with their wit, humour, brilliance, charm and intellect.

Though we farewelled our Class of 2016 yesterday, they still have work to do – there are exams to sit, plans to make and goals to achieve.

We’ll be seeing this lot at Valedictory in a few weeks’ time.

Best wishes 'til then... you've got this.

On Thursday 18 August, Woodleigh’s Minimbah Campus was overtaken by robots, mad scientists and young engineers intent on testing the laws of physics!

Minimbah’s ‘STEAMing Ahead’ night brought students and their parents together, for two hours of amazing Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematical investigation.

Vying for the title of ‘Most Popular Exhibit,’ was the Year 4s' presentation of their basic coding skills, learned by programming robots! Students from this year level took turns in explaining the coding process to parents and illustrating their work by having four of the robots regularly perform a carefully choreographed dance to Ram Jam’s 1977 hit, ‘Black Betty.’

The night put sharp focus on the work being done by Woodleigh teachers to excite and engage all students in their learning.

Adam Liddiard – Director of Community Relations

The entire Woodleigh School community have become overnight archery experts after watching Alec Potts (2013) became the first Woodleigh graduate to win a medal at the Olympic Games.

Alec’s bronze medal win in the Men’s Archery Team event came after he, together with Ryan Tyack and Taylor Worth, outpointed the Chinese team to take the match 6-2.

For staff, there was immense pride in watching the young man, who, as a senior student, would spend spare periods shooting arrow after arrow at a special ‘range’ built way back behind the wildlife reserve. We watched on as Alec, Ryan and Taylor performed on the biggest stage in world sport – focused, assured, and, pardon the pun, completely centred on the task at hand.

"I remember a few years ago, Alec shot a flaming arrow across the front of the Hall at an assembly – It had to be a flaming arrow, we weren’t going to be satisfied with your common, garden variety arrow…"

Tonight (Tuesday night) will be a late one with the individual elimination rounds beginning at 11pm, but win lose or draw, one thing is certain – at 20 years of age, this is just the beginning of a long international career, one which according to proud mum Shona, Alec will handle with aplomb. “That's the Woodleigh boy in him – that quiet confidence and belief that you can have a go and aim high and if you fall, it's just another step in the journey, not a stop – that's what Woodleigh has given both our kids.”

Best of luck to Alec and his fellow Australian Archery competitors.

Non-Olympics images taken from Woodleigh School's 40th anniversary publication 'Independent Thoughts.'

Photography by Amy Woodward. 2015

Buy a copy of Independent Thoughts

Congratulations and best wishes to Alec Potts (2013) who has been named in the 2016 Australian Olympic Games Archery Team. Alec holds over 300 State Records and over 80 National Records. He has been six-time Youth National Recurve Champion and has now been selected to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Alec began his archery career as a 12-year-old, quickly rising to the top of the Australian field. During his Year 12 studies, he could often be found spending his spare periods practising his skills in an area behind the Woodleigh Farm, where disturbances and visitors (aside from the curious kangaroos) were few and far between.

We wish Alec all the best for the coming Olympics, and will be up early watching and cheering on Woodleigh’s first Summer Olympic Games Competitor. Archery competition begins at 9am (Brasilia Time) 10pm AEST on Saturday 6 August.


  • The distance between the archer and the target (1.22m diameter) is 70m. The target score varies from 1 to 10, according to the proximity to the inner circle.
  • The archer has 40 seconds to shoot each of their six arrows.
  • In the finals, the archer has 20 seconds to shoot each of their three arrows.
  • In the air, an arrow can travel at more than 240km/h.

Minimbah students raised the roof of the George Jenkins Theatre at Monash Peninsula Campus. Strings, horns, flutes, pianos, choirs, bands, solos and so many horrible, horrible jokes!

A proper Woodleigh Musicale then!

Congratulations to all the performers and thank you to all of the staff who were involved in putting the night together.

STEAM or STEM? No matter what you call it, Year 4 students at Minimbah are loving their integrated Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths studies!

Year 4 STEAM investigations and projects from Woodleigh School on Vimeo.

They've peppered things with a good dose of creativity and future-focused thinking and are now learning how to identify and create opportunities to make life better for everyone... toast eaters included.

​RIGHT ACROSS OUR THREE CAMPUSES, Woodleigh School is deeply engaged in the continued development of our learning programs. Our collaborative research projects with Harvard University, the University of Melbourne and Claire Warden’s Nature Pedagogy network each give Woodleigh a key role in developing action-based enquiries into existing programs, as well as informing updates and opportunities to develop new programs for the future.

By reaching out and broadening our network Woodleigh is able to draw on the ideas and experiences of others and, importantly, have a platform to share our model and its various successes, both in Australia and internationally via the Round Square Schools Network.

Through these collaborative projects we consistently find that Woodleigh School’s teaching and learning programs, and our approach to learning environment design, are widely regarded as at the leading edge of educational thinking. Most important, however, are the consistent findings that our methods and environments are highly successful in achieving the outcomes all contemporary educationalists strive to achieve: a strong academic foundation for the future, and the development of lifelong learning skills which prepare students well for their futures.

Time and time again we see that the authenticity of our learning, and the fact that we are able to engage our students in real, lived learning experiences, is the driver of this success.

The research continues to promote the theory that it is programs which encourage students to engage directly with the world that best prepare students for futures that are unpredictable and unknown – to adapt, and develop the skills to respond accordingly. As the educational sector struggles to find the best way to evolve to meet the rapidly changing learning needs of our students, it is good to know that the Woodleigh model of student-centred, experience-driven schooling is increasingly referred to as a reference point for others.

Jonathan Walter – Principal