A Uniting Church coeducational independent day and boarding school on Kaurna Country, Adelaide, South Australia

Early Learning to Year 12

From the Principal - Edition 12 - 2022

Westventure, our residential Outdoor Education (OE) experience, is a great example of fantastic experiential learning, and an opportunity to complement our FUSS studies. It prepares our students for the VUCA (volatile/uncertain/complex/ambiguous) world we live in. The program is designed to help students build resilience, interdependence, independence, self-belief, awareness, courage and a growth mindset, along with a skillset they can use for life. In 2022, the Westventure program is moving from Year 10 to Year 9. The changing needs of our students and their age means the program is now completely appropriate for Year 9. We are not alone in doing this. Many schools throughout Australia have transitioned their residential programs to Year 9. Even Timbertop, the longest residential outdoor learning experience in Australia, runs in Year 9.

This move has provided us with the unique opportunity to develop WestQuest, a new and exciting OE program for Year 10. We are creating a program to allow students to utilise all the skills they have developed through our OE program in previous years. They will choose an expedition to suitably challenge them, providing not only a chance to grow but another experience of a lifetime. As a school, Westminster has an enviable reputation as an outstanding provider of OE. Our students’ engagement is a contributing factor to the culture of our School and the success of our Old Scholars. The adventure that they experience in our OE program, consciously and subconsciously, provides them with invaluable skills.

Our students have unique OE opportunities to learn risk-taking in a safe environment, working as individuals and in teams. Their knowledge of our environment is enhanced considerably. They learn to endure hardship, discovering their limits are often well beyond what they thought. This all helps our students develop emotional intelligence and a raft of skills, allowing them to fulfil their potential.

As parents, we identify opportunities for our children to grow. This means encouraging them to do things they may not want to do but we anticipate will serve them well. When they enter the workforce, they may find themselves in jobs where they may not want to do elements of their work, yet they cannot shy away from them. We have an obligation to teach our students how to face seemingly insurmountable challenges so they can deal with them in a proactive manner, without negative wellbeing ramifications. We can do our children a great disservice by always letting them do what they want, inadvertently creating a life where adversity is never faced.

WestQuest commences in 2023 and students will be offered a great range of activities from which to choose. The nature of the expeditions being offered means that the program will run over two terms as climatic conditions allow. All students are expected to be involved in WestQuest. It will require them to be organised, prepared and methodical with their overall study, an excellent segue into Years 11 and 12. Full WestQuest details will be released later in the year, which will include an outline and timeline of the activity nomination process. We will, of course, be monitoring the interest in the options offered to help us shape our new program moving forward.

And to end on a more philosophical note, a ladder to a wonderful, fulfilling and successful life is climbed only by using the rungs of opportunity. Your hands don’t pull you up a ladder, it’s your legs that do the driving, which only happens when you take the risk of stepping up.

Building on Westventure, we believe our WestQuest program will provide another fulfilling experience for students to embrace, stepping up and achieving more than they thought possible.

Simon Shepherd