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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!

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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