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The enduring value of a holistic education

Follow your heart but take your brain with you. Alfred Adler

In the mid-1970s, Woodleigh School’s Principal, Michael Norman, engaged his community in the collective reimagining of what school could be. Along with interest in academic studies, immersive experiences, and project-based learning, character development emerged as a central and enduring focus for the school. While the tradition of character education can be dated back to Victorian times, the contemporary approach taken at Woodleigh emphasised student agency, creativity, and resourcefulness. In this way, the mission for Woodleigh School evolved to focus on both student academic achievement and the development of the adaptive expertise required to find success beyond our school gates.

Woodleigh’s holistic approach to education nurtures our students’ personal, academic, and social development through connections to real-world learning, the natural environment, and human values, such as respect and compassion. While the volatile and uncertain nature of the current health crisis has disrupted our learning programs, these interests remain at the heart of our approach to learning. 

Although we have needed to adapt many of our plans to fit a remote environment, our learning design promotes exploration, experimentation, reflection, and deep learning. In truth, Woodleigh’s focus on developing resilient, creative, and compassionate young people who can make a positive contribution to the local and global communities in which they live has probably never been more critical than in our current experience.

DR. RICHARD OWENS
Director of Learning, Strategy and Innovation