Round Square

What is The Round Square Conference of Schools?

Round Square is a worldwide association of schools, currently numbering nearly one hundred members, which share a commitment, beyond academic excellence, to personal development and responsibility through service, challenge, adventure and international understanding. Its origins come from the philosophy of Kurt Hahn who founded two schools as well as the Outward Bound Program. He taught that schools should have a greater purpose beyond preparing students for university and he believed in educating young people for life by enabling them to face life in ways that demanded courage, generosity, imagination, kindness, empathy, compassion and principles.

All member schools share a strong underlying belief: this is the view of learning by doing. It is an ongoing process of self-confrontation and formation, involving a fundamental objective of the full and individual development of every student into a whole person: academically, physically, culturally and spiritually, within the supportive environment of the Westminster School community.

Why is it called The Round Square?

In Scotland, a square has traditionally been the administrative centre of an estate. At Gordonstoun School the square is a circular two storey building, The Round Square. The first conference was held in this building in 1967 and it was decided to adopt the name The Round Square Conference for the association.

What are the principles of The Round Square?

As a Round Square school, Westminster School embraces a series of six pillars or precepts which are summed up in the acronym, IDEALS. They are:
Students are taught to appreciate, value and respect all cultures, religions and languages. Students learn to see themselves as global citizens, and are asked to look beyond gender, class, race, nationality and culture to understand human nature. International conferences, student exchanges in Years 8 and 10, Westminster School’s own overseas service project to India, Project India, which is open to the whole School community, and GAP years are arranged by Westminster School to facilitate this. Students can also take part in Round Square International Service Projects (RSIS) which annually go to Cambodia, Canada, India (two projects), Kenya, Nicaragua, Peru, Romania, South Africa and Thailand. The School has been very active in both the Preparatory and Senior Schools with cultural and musical exchanges with many Round Square schools, including Daly College in India and Tamagawa Academy in Japan. Westminster School sponsors students at Starehe Boys’ Centre and School in Nairobi Kenya and Tiger Kloof School in South Africa.
Teaching students both the values of democracy and the importance of active participation in democracy is essential to Westminster School. Freedom of thought and speech is greatly encouraged and appropriate forums and channels of communication are in place. Students are also taught to appreciate the importance of self-discipline and are trained and expected to share in the running of the school. At Westminster School, there are various forums that students can be involved in, at School, House and Year levels, in both the Preparatory and Senior Schools. There is participatory democracy through the election of the School leaders and House captains. This has been extended into most areas of the co-curricular program as well. The Round Square at Westminster School is in the hands of a student board of directors with two directors responsible for the six pillars, plus three other areas, including two directors from the Preparatory School. Each of the areas has directors who act as project managers for their portfolios.
Students are taught the importance of tending to the future of the planet. Our students are expected to demonstrate an active interest and concern for all natural environments, to be aware of proven problems and to play a practical role in tackling environmental issues. Students are taught the fine balance and the interdependence needed to maintain a healthy relationship between human beings and the planet. All emphasise each young person's destiny to be a guardian of human society and the global environment. Westminster School has been very active in recycling paper, cans, batteries, newspapers and bottles. There have been extensive tree planting programs involving our students at Glenroy and Gemtree Vineyard, along with assistance at the Monarto Zoo, Meningie Progress Association and Moorundie Wildlife Reserve. The School has been active in the Clean-up Australia program. The program for Environment Week is an initiative of the Round Square Board, and Westminster School community is an active participant in Earth Hour each year.
Building the body and soul through adventure, meeting the physical challenge and developing an appreciation of the outdoors: these are all central to Round Square schools. Most students at Westminster School participate in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme which fosters a spirit of adventure and the realization that students can be so much more than they might have imagined. The School has extensive Outdoor Education and camps programs, including the Year 10 Westventure experience which further promotes this ideal. The academic excellence of the Outdoor Education program is complimented by the high number of Westminster students who achieve their Silver and Gold level in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.
Students are taught that authentic leadership is found in those whose convictions are rooted in personal responsibility, kindness and justice. A high level of responsibility is passed on to students individually and collectively. Round Square committees in schools are chaired by students, and various leadership positions of consequence are shared by the students. The annual International, Regional Senior and Young Round Square Conferences are an ideal forum for students to demonstrate leadership skills, both in the planning process and public administration. Leadership is promoted in both the Preparatory and Senior Schools at Westminster School through School leadership positions, as well as in the Round Square Board of Directors and co-curricular activities. Year 7 students also participate in National Leaders Day. Leadership is promoted in Service Learning projects and Adventure activities where the students are encouraged to take major roles in the planning, organisation and evaluation phases, as project managers. Westminster School has hosted a number of Regional Conferences; the Senior Conference in 2003, the Junior Conference in 2006 and the Senior Conference in 2011, all of which have been student driven and managed. The latter conference was themed ‘We Can Change the World, Rearrange the World’ and its focus was on authentic student leadership.
A key method used by Round Square to prepare students for life is by the expectation of serving others. Each student is encouraged to perform a substantial number of service hours, either in school-sponsored, local, regional or international projects. Round Square International Service (RSIS) Projects have been in existence since the early eighties, occurring in developing countries, where both staff and students from Round Square schools work together in constructing buildings and water systems. Our students have been involved in such projects in Cambodia, Canada, India, Kenya, South Africa and Thailand. To help in funding these projects, students raise money for the Prince Alexander Project Fund, to supply construction materials for the projects, as Westminster School did for the Asian Tsunami projects of the Round Square. Staff are also encouraged and supported as participants in our Round square Service learning programs. A number of staff has been leaders in RSIS India and the RSIS Fiji regional project, as well as volunteering their own and school time with many of our local community partners.
Westminster School has an extensive Service Learning program involving students working as volunteers with our community partners, including the Monarto Zoo, Meningie Progress Association, Moorundie Wildlife Reserve, Uniting Care Wesley, Alwyndor Nursing Home, Uniting Care Wesley, Reynella Lifecare, Riding for the Disabled, Marion Salvation Army, Marion Resthaven, OneSight, MarionLife, Westcare, the Foodbank, Abbeyfield Marion House, Red Dove Café, Meals on Wheels, Clovelly park primary School, Midnight Basketball, Foodbank and Minda Home. In the past, the School also has its own overseas Service Learning projects; Cambodia Service Project and India Service Project, which sees the whole School involved in the fund raising for the institutions and morally supporting small groups of volunteers visiting these institutions. (All fundraising is used to directly support our local and international community partners, not to cover the expenses of participants.) One of our key Service Learning programs is with the Community Accommodation and Respite Agency, where our students program, fund and provide a four day camping experience for children with disabilities. There is support from Round Square for a number of social and political causes including Kidzpositive in South Africa, White Ribbon Day, Greening Australia and AIDS Awareness, One Village, Westcare Baptist Church homeless meals program, and World Harmony Day.
“There’s more in you than you think.” Kurt Hahn