St Leonard’s: An education for life

Recognising and developing the most relevant skills and attributes required for the ever-changing modern world is essential to the prosperity of future generations.

What world will your child step into upon completion of their education? What qualities and capabilities must be nurtured within them to ensure they are fully equipped for the dramatically changing world beyond the school gates? How can you ensure your child receives an education that will serve them for life, developing their entire being – mind, body, heart and soul? These are all incredibly important questions to ask yourself as a parent.

Just as important, ensuring you choose a College renowned for pedagogical innovation and leadership, a school that is well placed to offer you the answers, is vital.

As one of Bayside’s premier independent schools, St Leonard’s College offers parents the assurance of a proven culture of innovation to address the evolving demands of our society. In 1972 St Leonard’s was the first independent school in the state to introduce coeducation. In 1982 it was the first Victorian school to introduce the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). The IBDP’s international orientation makes it the most highly regarded and respected tertiary entrance qualification by the world’s leading universities. Consequently, our Senior School students are offered the highly sought after choice between the VCE and the IBDP.

The College’s programs both in and beyond its classrooms have continued to progress, enabled by the very best research, data, resources and educational organisations in the world such as the Harvard University Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero.

One of St Leonard’s most significant innovations has been harnessing the modern world’s most precious but elusive commodity – time. Smaller class sizes (maximum 22 students) and longer lesson times (80 minutes) mean there are significantly enhanced opportunities to mentor its young people to explore and develop those essential skills that will ensure they are well-rounded, responsible, capable members of society.

More recently, St Leonard’s became the first school in Australia to be invited to join the OECD Future of Education and Skills 2030 project. The initiative aims to help countries determine what knowledge, skills, attitudes and values will be needed for students to truly thrive in the future. St Leonard’s College Principal, Stuart Davis, attended the biannual development discussions in Paris in late 2018, a forum to partake in dialogue with educational leaders from more than 30 countries, with a shared purpose to develop international educational policy and strategy to facilitate scholastic systems that develop those essential skills.

One such competency already identified by the OECD is a firmly entrenched sense of responsibility. In 2018, students from St Leonard’s College were encouraged to embrace the theme, ‘I am responsible for…’ as a catalyst for deeper thinking and social action on a local, national and international level. In another first relative to this, St Leonard’s College appointed a head of social action, global citizenship and engagement in 2018. As a result, each House within the College now supports projects that require them to be socially active and global in their perspective.

Through the College’s community service programs and initiatives, its young people are able to recognise how fortunate they are to live in Australia and that whilst the Bayside existence is wonderful, it is also insular. Through engaging programs, students navigate their way beyond that insularity to become global activists with a firmly entrenched sense of responsibility and personal fulfilment.

One such initiative is Lennie’s Van, a food van that supports disadvantaged members of the local community. Students and staff take Lennie’s van to the local housing estate to provide breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea services along with the equally important social connection for vulnerable members of the community. “Through Lennie’s Van I learnt that helping out and giving to the community is the most valuable gift for yourself and others,” says Year 10 student, Lakshmi.

The St Leonard’s community also supports three schools and a kindergarten in Bangladesh, with students raising over $53,000 for the Bangladesh project in 2018.

In Year 9 students undertake their Big Experience, an initiative that sees them travel to various destinations in South East Asia where they gain firsthand insight into global sustainability and community service.

Students actively fundraise prior to their trip and then use the funds within the local community such as building a new home for a family in need. This gives the College’s young people a profound sense of purpose and contribution.

The national Big Experience involves students spending several days in Warrawi (NT) immersed in activities at the Warrawi Community School where St Leonard’s has built a strong partnership. This partnership was motivated by its desire to see students connect with and learn from an Indigenous community. St Leonard’s also now provides Indigenous Scholarships to three students who have come from Warrawi, which has strengthened the College’s relationship with this community.

The Year 9 Big Experience shifts students’ perspective and gives them a deep understanding of their capacity to positively impact the world. Since these programs commenced, it is estimated that over half a million dollars in fundraising has been achieved, with the 2018 Year 9 cohort raising over $50,000 for disadvantaged communities.

These programs and initiatives bestow upon the College’s young people an existential point of reference that is beyond their own realms of self-interest, one that offers a much more expansive understanding and experience of life and all that it has to offer.

It is through service as a learning pathway that St Leonard’s students develop a finely tuned awareness of how their actions and decisions impact others. They are provided with life-changing opportunities that enlighten them, teaching them the importance of taking responsibility for our people, our animals and our planet. They are truly educated and empowered to live more fulfilling, rewarding lives.

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