Boarding in Australia
Wesley’s Learning in Residence boarding is designed on learner-centred principles to provide students with a place where they can develop intellectually, emotionally, physically, socially, culturally and spiritually. So what do students think of the approach?
Wesley College’s Learning in Residence is a coeducational boarding environment where living and learning are inextricably linked. Years 9 to 12 students live in eight single-sex residences located next to the Senior School at the Glen Waverley Campus. It’s a contemporary model of boarding that provides a safe and supportive home environment, underpinned by the principle of preparing students for life beyond school and the philosophy of learning to live with others. Students are given responsibility over how they choose to spend their time, and the move away from regimented routines means that students find independence, responsibility and a strong voice.
What do students think about Learning in Residence?
Malaysian student Lauren Lok was originally drawn to the look of the facilities – particularly the cosy fireplaces in each residence. Lauren, who has been playing the violin since she was six, made a lot of friends through music at Wesley. ‘It’s been great joining Wesley, as they have a really good music program,’ Lauren says. While boarding in Melbourne, she has been able to continue to nurture her passion for music by joining three musical ensembles, including a quintet and an orchestra.
Taylah Brown, who hails from South Gippsland in country Victoria, is a rising netball star on track to shoot some serious goals. For Taylah, balancing netball with her studies when she was a Year 12 student at Learning in Residence was easy, with her new accommodation a short walk from Wesley College’s extensive sporting facilities, and private transportation to and from training and games arranged by the College.
‘I came to Wesley to pursue my sporting career. I play a lot of netball, so to be able to excel in both sporting and academic areas, I decided to move to Melbourne to be closer to training facilities here,’ Taylah says.
Similarly, Leia Varley joined Wesley to pursue an elite sport pathway, playing soccer for Victoria. Leia, who moved from Finley in regional NSW to attend Learning in Residence from Years 10 to 12, said that the team at Learning in Residence helped her manage her sporting goals and her academic development.
‘My schoolwork definitely came before my sporting commitments,’ Leia says, ‘I could always go to the teachers and let them know if I was struggling to keep up. The mentors were great too, and they helped me with all that.’
What is it like living in Learning in Residence?
After school, students can access their teachers’ help, the campus library, or communal and quiet study spaces inside Learning in Residence. They can also use their leisure time to exercise in the campus gym with a personal trainer, or use the on-site sporting facilities. Fergus Luk, who moved to Melbourne from Hong Kong, enjoys playing badminton, and often invites his friends to come down to the Wesley sports centre and play badminton with him.
The opportunity to live within a Melbourne metropolitan area is another drawcard for students. Supervised activities scheduled each week include trips to nearby shopping precincts, karaoke and cultural excursions in and around Melbourne to festivals and events. There are plenty of activities on-campus too, including weekly games nights and campfires in the communal courtyard. Students are involved in the planning of activities, and have established Trivia Nights on-campus and bonding experiences such as dinners in the residences.
‘It’s very different to how I used to live at home: I have a roommate now and I like the independence that they give to the students here,’ Oliver Courtnay says. ‘The distance definitely makes it a lot easier to get to school! Plus, I do a lot of athletics, and there’s a very strong athletics program so I can get a lot of great coaching here as well.’
Leia says that it can feel odd to be at school all the time, but over time it actually feels like living at home. Other students described being homesick at first, and feeling supported through it by the mentors and pastoral care structures.
For Taylah, the community at Learning in Residence was like a family. As she described when in Year 12, ‘Everyone is very supportive of each other. If you’re having a rough day, it’s great to be able to come back and feel like you’re at home. The mentors and staff are literally like our parents, they’re so friendly, and help us with homework.’
Fergus said that in his first year at Learning in Residence he could already feel that the students there were more than just classmates. ‘We live together, and we help each other.’
As some of the students can already see, being part of Learning in Residence will leave them with life-long friendships, networks and an expanded perspective of the world.