Martyn Smith, writing about Wesley College

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TWENTY YEARS OF COEDUCATION AT WESLEY
(March, 1998, for 'The Lion' magazine)

Pitted together by ‘The Age’ last October, Wesley’s David Loader and MLC’s Rosa Storelli jointly declared the primacy of school quality over gender in a refreshing response to renewed debate regarding coeducation.  A pertinent touch of sibling school congruence! 

Whilst research regarding the relative value of coeducational and single-sex schools has swung to and fro from time to time, I confess that, long ago, I drew back from attempting to justify Wesley’s coeducational stance on such grounds. 

It seemed that research could substantiate either view.

For me, a good coeducational school  --  which Wesley strives to be  --  brings to its young people a priceless bond of friendship which makes no reference to, yet is deeply enriched by, gender. 

As I have watched as teacher, and known as Wesley parent, the marvellous camaraderie and care shared by our maturing youngsters as they have graduated through Senior College during the last decade, I have rejoiced in the necessary stages of development that brought them this lasting treasure.

On the threshold of adulthood, the undulations, twists and turns and fast and slow lanes of their common journey from childhood were reconciled as these young men and women prepared to take the "open road" calling them from Wesley.

Seeing this phenomenon, suddenly I understood the full significance of valuing and nurturing the unique characteristics and aspirations of each of the girls and boys throughout their Preparatory, Junior and Middle School days.

Very little had occurred, I came to realise, that was insignificant in the growth of all of these students. 

Their knowledge and understanding, and, yes, even some wisdom, had grown out of the completeness of their relationships.  Differences, positively compounded by dual gender, and  empathetic tolerance had given rise to the students’ fuller appreciation of the unsurpassed worth of each of their fellows. And this is to say nothing of their similarities.

This sounds like Utopia!  But, of course, it wasn’t, and isn’t. 

Partially met challenges remain, despite our best endeavours  --  teacher, student and parent! 

Nonetheless, our efforts together have brought forward, and will continue to do so, a large number of young people who cherish their coeducational upbringing as a deep source of naturally inclusive friendship which will stand them in good stead for their entire lives.

This, I believe, is the great value of our coeducation  --  at not only a good school, but also, dare it be said, The Best School of All.

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