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Celebrating 150 years of outstanding educational opportunities

Celebrating our Sesquicentenary

In 2016, Wesley College will celebrate its sesquicentenary. In this sesquicentennial year, the College remembers the vision of its founders in creating a school to provide opportunities for students in what was the very young colony of Victoria.

The planning for a new Wesleyan School had been evolving from the mid-1850s and the Foundation Stone was laid, at what is now known as the St Kilda Road campus, by His Excellency the Governor of Victoria, Sir Charles Darling, on 4 January 1865.

One year later, on Thursday 11 January 1866, the College was formally founded and the inaugural address was given by the Reverend James Waugh, President of the College. For several days Melbourne’s newspapers carried the following advertisement:

Wesley College
The above institution (D.V.) will be open for the reception for boarders on the 18th and for day pupils on the 22nd January 1866. (the letters D.V. are Latin for Deo Volente – God willing – which reflected the importance of religion in the day).

Freddie Binks

Pupil No 1 was Frederick Binks, the son of the Reverend William Binks.  Young Freddie arrived on 18 January 1866 and was soon joined by others, including Pupil No 2, Jonah Dolphin. Both these boys were boarders, who could never have imagined the Wesley College of today - the leading and innovative, coeducational, internationally-recognised, school with a student population of more than 3,100.

The founders in the Prospectus and Annual Report for Wesley College Melbourne 1866, summed up the original educational vision thus:

The object of this Institution is to provide a Classical and General Education of the highest order, such as to fit a young gentleman for mercantile life, for the public service, and for matriculation in the University.

And later:

The College will be conducted upon the principles of the Wesleyan Church; the constant aim being to give a liberal and Christian education."

These words still have great resonance today. A Uniting Church school, Wesley remains committed to providing a well-rounded education that encourages each student to flourish and be prepared for the challenges of the modern world.

The founders of Wesley would no doubt be amazed and delighted that the school has remained true in valuing the principles on which they established the school 150 years ago.