Beliefs about education

At Woodleigh, we believe that education should be a journey of ever-expanding opportunities.  One which opens up multiple pathways and helps students find their individuality and discover their passions.  We commit wholeheartedly to the words of our founding Principal, Michael Norman, who said, “We ought never do for a young person what they, with a struggle, could be expected to be doing for themselves.” 

When students are challenged, real growth will occur. There is no growth without struggle. 

Students must be challenged – they must experience the discomfort that comes with breaking through to new ways of thinking.  As children move from early childhood, through adolescence and into adulthood, they need to be given the space to grow, develop ideas, create, take risks, and importantly, to fail and learn from their mistakes.

“Content knowledge matters. Skills matter more. Motivation matters most. Because if someone is intrinsically motivated, they’re going to continuously acquire new content knowledge and skills.” (Wagner 2016). 

We can no longer apply 20th century thinking to 21st century problems. The employment landscape has evolved at an astounding rate in the past decade and knowledge is no longer enough. Today’s employers demand resilience, grit, perseverance, digital skills, critical thinking skills, tenacity, creative problem solving, collaboration and effective communication skills; qualities which are central to what we do, teach and value.

The Woodleigh School learning model actively develops a range of diverse pathways for students, encouraging individuality, creative thinking and the development of adventurous minds. 

To learn more about our school visit or contact our enrolments department on 5971 6100.




Developing true friendships takes kindness, courage and a willingness to grow

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Throughout this term, Peninsula Grammar students in the Junior Years have been learning how to navigate the “bumps that appear in the road”. While it may seem like a mature concept, the Kinder to Year 4 students have immersed themselves in Peninsula’s Positive Education program that focuses on developing healthy relationships and navigating disagreements when they happen.  

“It’s important that our students know that despite wanting to be happy all the time, it is a normal part of life that we sometimes feel lonely, or find it difficult to make new friends,” explains Peninsula Grammar’s Director of Positive Education, Ms Therese Joyce.  “Our students learn that friendships can change, and they may feel hurt if they argue with friends, or feel left out but they’re learning that these ups and downs are all part of being human.” 

Within the Positive Education program, student leaders in the Middle Years have been reflecting on the skills that make a good friend and leader. “Students learn about what friendship means and how to be a good friend,” Ms Joyce said. “Good friends are kind, they consider others and act in a way that is fair and honest. Good friends stand up for each other, listen to any concerns and look for the good in others.”

Peninsula’s Positive Education framework reflects the work of many psychological wellbeing experts who focus on the value of positive healthy relationships.  

“Our relationships with other people have a huge impact on our sense of self and our level of wellbeing and it is important for children to learn how to deal with challenges in their relationships and to develop good social skills.” 

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Across the school, Peninsula Grammar has invited staff, students and the community to take an active part in a kindness initiative and to consider ways they can each bring a little more kindness to the world around them. 

For more information about Peninsula’s Positive Education program, contact 9788777 or visit

A: 20 Wooralla Drive, Mount Eliza
T: 9788 7777


A school for Adventurous Minds

At Woodleigh School, ‘Adventurous Minds’ defines who we are.

Adventurous Minds are expressive and imaginative. Original, passionate and persistent.

Adventurous Minds are expressive and imaginative. Original, passionate and persistent.

Adventurous Minds never stop learning. To be adventurous is to have a go, to be creative, open to change and possibility. Adventurous Minds can be scientific, mathematic, artistic and expressive. There are no set limits.

We are seekers of new perspectives. Our students are unafraid of failure, taking risks with their learning. They take setbacks in their stride, reflect and try again. They are capable, resourceful, collaborative and talented, always looking for innovative solutions. 

Our teachers and curriculum encourage students to try new things, to push beyond what is comfortable – to grow. The Activities and Camp Programs, Round Square and our Community Partnership Programs shift Woodleigh students’ perspectives beyond the safe confines of the Peninsula, to national and international views. 

As industry and employer needs change, education too must evolve. We must acknowledge that the future will not be like the past. Transferable skills, application, effort, communication skills, curiosity, adaptability and innovation – adventurous thinking – these are fundamental for your child’s future success. They cannot be Googled. They can only be learnt through real, authentic, lived experiences. 

Education should be an adventure. The journeys students go on, both in and out of the classroom, should ignite a life-long love for learning. They should lead students to discover their passions and help define their values.

At Woodleigh, Adventurous Minds are welcome. They are guided and empowered. Adventurous Minds are respected. Adventurous Minds are educated… here.


VCE: Ready to go! By Zahli McFarlane

Like any student heading into the VCE years I’ve been feeling a bit anxious about the decisions I need to make. As a Year 10 student it dawns on you that your choices over the next few years impact your future. Lots of questions run through your head. What subjects should I choose? Which tertiary institution offers the course I’m interested in? How do ATARs work? It’s enough to make even the most confident and capable student feel overwhelmed.

Peninsula Grammar has taken our VCE preparation to the next level. The School offered a “VCE and Pathways Expo” which gave both students and parents the opportunity to explore the 35 VCE subjects on offer. We were able to ask the teachers questions and investigate our areas of interest. There were also 13 institutions at the Expo showcasing their courses, offering us valuable insight into options, prerequisites and life beyond VCE.

After the Expo I went to a presentation with my mum where we learnt all about the mechanics of VCE. My parents did the HSC and only understand “Anderson Scores” so they were grateful to have the chance to understand the process and ask questions.

Peninsula Grammar also invited past students back to School to tell us about their post VCE lives and experiences. We found this invaluable and felt excited about the future after hearing from the VCE graduates. 

We finished Term 2 with all students having a chance to sit one on one with teachers representing the VCE subjects. This enabled me to ask my final questions and lock in my subject choices. 

I am fully prepared for the future and know that I will be completely supported by my School as I undertake this exciting journey. Peninsula Grammar has done everything it can to ease my transition into VCE and I feel confident about life after School. 

Peninsula Grammar has an Open Day on Wednesday, August 16 from 9-11am.


A: 20 Wooralla Drive, Mount Eliza

T: 9788 7777


Putting a Value on Childhood – Early Childhood Education at Minimbah

As adults, many of us lament the fact that our children don’t have the same opportunities to play, explore and learn that we perhaps did. We mourn that safety concerns, perceived and real, have torpedoed these impromptu learning experiences where independence, resilience, leadership and communication skills flourish.

Fun at the creek happens throughout the year. Rain, hail, or shine

Fun at the creek happens throughout the year. Rain, hail, or shine

In response to this, and influenced by the Forest Schools’ approach used in many Scandinavian countries, the Early Childhood Centre at our Minimbah Campus established its ‘Creek’ Program in 2012.

Five years on, the four-year-old ECC students from Minimbah spend their Thursdays outdoors at the ‘Minimbah Creek’. Rain, hail or shine, students engage in those activities their mums and dads did, and the learning outcomes are remarkable.

The children thought they were just playing but they were learning such an incredible amount. It was tactile learning, learning by trial and error, directed and self-directed learning.

Jodie A – Parent

Such was the success of the ECC Creek Program that Foundation (Prep), Year 1 and Year 2 students now spend their Wednesdays outside the classroom. Their ‘Discovery Day’ programs set a different learning and curriculum focus each term and draw on the students’ ‘discoveries’ at Frankston beach and along the Sweetwater Creek trail.

By putting a value on the educational and social importance of play and discovery – by letting children be children – we are able to develop individual learning programs that both challenge and engage.

And it all begins in our Friday three-year-old program.

This full-day program is creative. It is progressive. It is a broad palette of experiential and enquiry-based programs that combine to create a fun and engaging environment, sowing the seeds for a lifetime love of learning.

For more information on Woodleigh School’s Early Childhood programs, contact our Enrolments team on 5971 6100 or email [email protected]

Rod Davies –
Deputy Principal – Head of Minimbah Campus

Sporting success

Toorak College celebrates National and State sporting success, and congratulate our very talented students.

Some individual achievements include Emily Hamilton-Smith in Year 11, who captained the Victorian Under 15 Hockey team to win their first national trophy at the recent Australian Women's Championship in Sydney. Sophie Jackson, also in Year 11, competed at the Victorian State Sailing Championships and placed first in the 420 class, and Year 9 student Holly Garac won a Gold Medal for high jump at the National Athletics Championships.

After months of training, nine Toorak Aerobics teams competed at the Schoolaerobics Preliminary Finals in Geelong recently. Our results were outstanding with eight teams qualifying for the State Finals in June. 

The Toorak College Equestrian team also achieved great results, winning the Equestrian Victoria Championships at Werribee during the holidays, with 22 riders competing in the event. The Toorak team also won Round 2 of the ISJ Show Jumping series.

There are so many benefits to participating in regular physical activity; it can uplift your mood, give you more energy and help to maintain good health. We offer our students a wide range of sporting opportunities, and encourage them to explore leadership, teamwork, responsibility, risk taking and commitment while enjoying the health benefits from regular physical activity.

Our Senior School girls participate in the Girls Sport Victoria (GSV) program, of which Toorak College is a foundation member; it is the leading provider of sport to independent girls’ schools.

Toorak College provides so many opportunities for students to find their passion. There is a sport or activity for everyone, it is about giving it a go, trying new things, making new friends and finding the activity that works for you.

To find out more about Toorak’s sports program visit or phone 9788 7200.

Scholars to share their stories

Every year TOPSA, Peninsula Grammar’s alumni, organise a breakfast and invite the community to join them. At this year’s breakfast, to be held at Peninsula Grammar on July 20, TOPSA has brought back a number of Peninsula Grammar scholars to share their stories. Five impressive young women who followed different pathways and found their passion will talk about where they are now and how they got there.

The guest speakers include Lauren Wood from the Class of 2006 who is looking forward to sharing her story about her career in a male-dominated industry. A sports journalist for the Herald Sun, Lauren loves where she is now. “I really enjoyed being involved in as much as I could at Peninsula – I loved the sport and music programs,” she says fondly. “I went on to study Business and Commerce as well as Journalism, and as a footy and general-sport lover, I now have a dream job that has already provided many highlights.”

When asked what advice she might give to today’s Peninsula Grammar students, she has some wise words. “Soak it all in and engage in as many of the programs that Peninsula has to offer,” she said.  “Since leaving school, I have realised how lucky I was to have so many different experiences that helped me develop into a well-rounded person. Put yourself out there - you never know what will come of anything.”

Another guest speaker, Caitlin Miers from the Class of 2010, had a slightly different pathway. Cait is a Surf, Fashion and Lifestyle Photographer based here on the Mornington Peninsula. She started a Sports Science degree and then moved to a Bachelor of Photography at Melbourne’s RMIT University which she completed in 2014. Cait has since been freelancing for major brands including Roxy and Lululemon and has travelled to work in all corners of the globe including Biarritz, The Maldives, LA, Bali and Japan.

Cait also has some valuable advice for the Class of 2017 and beyond. “I would just say, you have time. You have time to go to uni, try a course, not like it, switch courses, go travelling and come back to it later on, or don’t come back to it! Just do what makes you happy,” she said. “It’s ok to change and do what you love!”

Other guest speakers include musician Chloe Smith from the Class of 2011, who has studied music and teaching since leaving Peninsula Grammar and released an independent single and an EP. Maddie Featherby, Class of 2009, will also join the panel. Maddie studied Media majoring in film and cinema and also studied at NIDA and has been able to combine work and her love of musical theatre, winning one of the main roles in the upcoming production of Paris. As a more recent graduate Alexandra Karamesinis, from the Class of 2016, will appear on the panel providing some perspective on life so far after school.

This is a complimentary event, proudly supported by TOPSA and includes a sit down breakfast.

7am – 8.30am, July 20, 2017, H.A. MacDonald Pavilion, Peninsula Grammar.

Book your place at: by July 13, 2017. 

Improved confidence through enhanced language skills

My name is Ni and I moved from Bali to Australia eight years ago. I lived a happy life in Bali with my husband and three young children, until my husband died in the 2002 Bali bombing.

I did not know how to look after three children by myself, with no money and no home.  I come to SkillsPlus four days each week and I really love it. I joined the SkillsPlus Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program to improve on my English reading, writing and language skills.

Once I have completed the SEE program I hope to get a job in retail, maybe at Kmart or Target, because I like working with people.

Story by Ni, Skills to Education and Employment participant.

A: 31 Playne Street, Frankston
T: 9784 0400

All roads lead to Oz

Dromana College has not put on a musical production in 10 years.  However, the upcoming production of The Wizard of Oz has a cast and crew of 130 skipping down the Yellow Brick Road with excitement.

After commencing a music and vocal teaching position at the college in 2014, current Head of Music Jacqui Rodden was determined to not only lift the level of vocal and instrumental music at the college, but to combine all the performing art forms in a musical production.  “We chose The Wizard of Oz because it had so many wonderful vocal roles for solo and chorus and had a number of big dance scenes,” Jacqui said.

The production also gives instrumental music students the opportunity to perform in an orchestra at the Frankston Arts Centre, which will be directed by Jacqui and feature students from Years 7 to 12.

Jacqui now teaches more than 30 vocal students, and the school boasts an impressive choir and a cappella ensemble. Recent enhancement programs in the performing arts, specifically dance, have given seasoned dance teachers Taryn Sabell and Jennii Johnson an opportunity to work with and choreograph talented performers and prepare them for Wakakirri in 2016 and the college’s musical production this year.

The Wizard of Oz showcases the college’s impressive performing arts students.  Thirty-three dancers from all year levels fill the stage in glittering snowflake tutus and vibrant poppy costumes in Act 1 and return as menacing Jitterbugs in Act 2.  VCE Dance student Madeline Turnbull features as the acrobatic commander of the monkeys, sidekick to the stunning-in-green yet evil Witch of the West, performed by VCE Drama student Julia Gregory. William Buckley, another VCE Drama student, takes the title role.

Year 10 soprano Iris Roberts studies voice with Jacqui and will be playing the starry-eyed Kansas girl Dorothy.  Jacqui’s other vocal students also headline this production: Kayla Wilson as the Tinman, Daniel Gough as the Scarecrow, and bass-baritone Trent Taylor as the Cowardly Lion.

The Wizard of Oz is the first musical production with full orchestra that the school has prepared in a long time.  “It really is a whole school production,” said choreographer, teacher and production coordinator Sarah Cossey. “VCAL Technology students have helped build sets and props, art students have contributed to media and marketing, and a large number of staff and students have assisted in rehearsals, costuming, make-up and design.”

The Wizard of Oz will be performed at Frankston Arts Centre, 27-37 Davey Street Frankston on Friday 12 May  at 7:30pm and Saturday 13 May 13 at 1:00pm and 7:30pm. Tickets at  or phone 9784 1060.

Nurture and nature go hand in hand at Padua Kindergarten

Padua Kindergarten is proudly a dirt-loving, nature-loving, play-based three and four-year-old funded kindergarten here on the Peninsula.

A child’s love and respect for the Earth, themselves and the core fundamentals of early childhood is at the heart of owner Jannah Young’s philosophies for her kindergarten.  It is a kindergarten that delivers early education and inspiration with, she says, love and acceptance in an all-natural play-based environment. “We believe it’s about creating a lifestyle within a child’s education and beyond.”

Jannah believes the most important developmental years in a child's life should be influenced more by nature and fostering life skills, and less by commercialism and what it can take away from the precious years of early childhood.

Over her years of study and working with families on the Peninsula, Jannah’s personal passion for the outdoors and natural living began to inspire what she brought to the children each day.

Now, 20 years later, and with Padua in its 10th year of business, Padua embraces everything she believes makes a valuable foundation for childhood, nurturing the skills and values that will stay with children for ever.  “It's a beautiful amalgamation, a respect for living naturally and an up-to-date curriculum to ensure their blossoming life skills and school readiness are second to none.”

A program delivered by a passionate team of teaching professionals ensures it’s a haven for positive growth in all the right directions.

A: 72 Exford Drive, Mornington
T: 5976 1022

More Opportunities for Year 7 Entry at Woodleigh

Alex Syme (Year 12) sharing the story of her Great Great Grandfather, Sir George Syme’s ANZAC service at our whole school ANZAC Assembly.

Alex Syme (Year 12) sharing the story of her Great Great Grandfather, Sir George Syme’s ANZAC service at our whole school ANZAC Assembly.

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
Woodleigh School Principal

Microbravery: what is it and why do we need it?

Ordering a smoothie. Asking someone if you can pat their dog. Requesting assistance in a store. What do these everyday acts have in common? They’re all forms of microbravery: small, everyday risks that take us out of our personal comfort zones.

These small acts of bravery can be life changing especially for girls, helping them to build confidence and self-esteem.

A 2014 study by Keds and Girls Leadership, highlighted a bravery gap where boys were more likely than girls to say they were brave. 

The study found that 59% of teen girls define bravery as a heroic act in a dangerous situation, while only 18% of teen girls define brave as standing up for their beliefs and being honest about who they are.

So when being brave feels like it is too big, it can seem out of reach to those who want to try it, and a lot scarier than it has to be.

Toorak College wants every girl to know that being brave is a skill best learned gradually over time, and like any new skill it takes practice, persistence and patience. Bravery is built, not born and microbravery allows girls to build courage slowly in small increments. Eventually they develop the confidence to tackle bigger challenges.

A girls-only approach to education provides a learning environment where girls feel empowered, where they can engage in more healthy competition and risk-taking. These skills set girls up for leadership and life success.

Toorak College encourages parents and teachers to embrace microbravery and to teach it to our girls; they learn best by watching the adults they admire and care for. When parents and teachers model microbravery they provide girls with two core components they need to develop courage: a script (the words to say) and permission (it’s okay to speak up, even if society tells you not to).

Bravery isn’t just about what we do: it’s also about what we believe in. By changing the way girls define courage, we can put it within their reach, making bravery something girls can also enjoy.

Toorak College sets every student up for their own personal growth and success. Discover Toorak on Wednesday 17 May, with tours at 9am and 10am. Call 9788 7234 or visit

Getting uncomfortable – the importance of outdoor education

There is no doubt that school camps provide children with many memorable experiences, some good, some quite challenging. As adults, many of our school memories are still related to the camps that we attended.

At Peninsula Grammar, camps are a compulsory part of the curriculum. Designed by an expert outdoor education team, the outdoor experiences created for Years 5 to 8 students in particular provide learning opportunities not possible within the four walls of a classroom.

“Working as a team in an outdoor setting with their peers, their teachers and other professionals to take on personal and social challenges is one of the most empowering experiences for our students,” said the Head of the Middle Years program, Muriel Bakker. “The relationships formed during this time of year are really important and our camps are all about engaging our students and developing positive interpersonal relationships with fellow students and mentors.”

Camps at Peninsula Grammar are definitely jam-packed with activities with little downtime - setting up camp, preparing meals and cleaning up afterwards, hiking, abseiling, rafting, bike riding, surfing and many individual and team challenges. The children are exposed to a range of activities that they may not have tried before, with camp staff encouraging them to ‘get comfortable getting uncomfortable’.

“We know that our most significant personal growth occurs when we step outside of our own comfort zone,” Mrs Bakker said. “And really, that’s what our camps are designed to do – promote growth and an adventurous spirit.”

Hear more about the importance of outdoor education in Peninsula Grammar’s Years 5 to 8 program at the Open Day on May 17. Visit or phone 9788 7777.

Co-ed Confidence. Girls Thrive at Woodleigh.

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.

Top Designs

Top Designs is an exhibition held annually at the Melbourne Museum presenting work created by VCE students in Media, Product Design and Technology, Food and Technology, Systems Engineering, Visual Communication Design and VET Interactive Digital Media.

Toorak College Year 12 student and VCE Visual Art Prefect, Sophie Fairbridge, received the great honour of selection in Top Designs with her garment inspired by the Great Barrier Reef.  Sophie chose to complete her Unit 3/4 Product, Design and Technology subject while she was in Year 11, which is an even more notable achievement.

She says, “Its purpose was to show people the beauty of the magnificent reef so they would hopefully want to help save it from the mines in Queensland. I wanted to highlight the striking blue of the ocean and the intricate and natural patterns and shapes of corals and fish”.

“It was very exciting opening the email that said I'd been selected. It is such a big achievement and just shows to me that hard work and a passionate approach to any task can be so rewarding,” Sophie says.

Dailan Hatherley, Head of Visual Art and Technology at Toorak College says, “Top Designs is the best of the best, showcasing the pinnacle of talent from VCE students across the state. Sophie is immersed in the arts, her design is highly original, very well executed and worthy of selection in Top Designs. Every year Toorak College has a VCE art exhibition, where the quality of work is exceptional”.  

“To me, being selected for Top Designs means that I can achieve anything I set my mind to, and that through this experience extraordinary things can be created,” says Sophie.

Toorak College encourages students to dream big, aim high and find their passion. For more details call 9788 7234 or discover Toorak at open morning, Wednesday May 17, tours at 9am and 10am.