Located in Melbourne’s southeast on the cusp of the Mornington Peninsula, Cornish College sits on almost 40ha of parkland. Encompassing natural bush, wetlands and farming pasture, an aquaponics area and vegetable gardens, the school has beehives and harvests its own honey, and is home to alpacas, chickens and ducks.
“As educators, we have a strong moral purpose,” principal Nicola Forrest says. “Instead of just teaching a subject because it’s in the curriculum, we say, ‘What’s this got to do with making a better future for our children? How can we teach this in a way that they will really live it?’ ”
The school not only has an exciting outdoor education program but prides itself on its local “outdoor learning” philosophy, where students learn in, with and from nature, and “every inch” of the college property is utilised.
Maths, sciences and art are some of the subjects that are regularly moved outdoors.
“We find our kids respond hugely to getting outside,” Nicola says. “The change of scene, fresh air, there’s a surge of serotonin . . . they connect with the subject on a deeper level.”
Cornish College students are not consumers of education, but contributors to and creators of their learning experience, Nicola adds. The result, she says, is a lifelong “disposition for learning”.
“We believe that you need to be a problem-identifier in life, not just a problem-solver. The young people at our school aren’t afraid to ask questions; they have enterprising mindsets, and they’re future-focused.”
The school’s alumni include lawyers, doctors, researchers, outdoor educators and environmental activists.
Interest in Cornish College is growing. “People are excited by change and they’re excited by what we’re doing here,” Nicola says. “People are seeking out places where things are done differently, where education isn’t following the same dated models it has for 50 years.”