Cornish College

Cornish College

At Cornish, they are preparing kids for a sustainable, prosperous future by including them in activities outside of the classroom and motivating them to think about how their choices affect the world around them.

Their 100-acre natural parkland environment gives students in Early Childhood through Year 12 room to move around and satisfy their curiosity.

This is supported by their comprehensive education, which encourages students to participate actively across disciplines, critically assess issues, and come up with innovative solutions.

Their unique learning atmosphere and comprehensive education guarantee that their pupils develop into the greatest people they can be. They develop the heart, the mind, and the person. Their inspiring staff and effective curriculum help students develop critical thinking abilities, enabling them to make a difference now for a sustainable tomorrow.


Although Cornish College had a long history of providing an alternative kind of education dating back to its beginnings as St Leonard’s Patterson River campus, it didn’t begin operations until 2012.


For a new campus, Richard Cornish, the principal of St. Leonard’s College, bought 114 acres close to the Patterson River in 1980. Cornish, a pioneering educator, planned it to be utilized for environmental, horticultural, and agricultural studies, as well as for recreational facilities and as a feeder school for pupils in Prep through Year 8, who would then transfer to Saint Leonard’s Brighton for Years 9–12.

St. Leonard’s College, Patterson River, was built over the following several years, and it opened its doors in February 1987.

Early years

The school had 72 students, five form teachers, and eight classrooms when it first opened. Important personnel included the Educational Director, Graeme Morgan, the Head of Campus, Fr. John Donnell, and Michael Davis, who eventually became the sole staff member to have participated in the entire process from St. Leonard’s to the present.

The school saw significant adjustments in the early years. Wendy Adams, who took over as head of campus when Donnell went on long-term leave, played a crucial role in creating and executing cutting-edge thematic study programs. The campus was dubbed the Richard Cornish campus, or Cornish for short, to foster a sense of tradition and community, which was supported by passionate staff, Brighton-area students, and parents who helped with the college’s extensive tree-planting project.

In 1990, Kerry Bolger took over as the new Campus Head. By reinforcing environmental education and farm ecology, adding a garden of native plants, and expanding the range of topic options for pupils, he further developed the educational approach. He also aimed to forge ties between Cornish and the larger neighborhood and to establish the campus as its own.


A new Early Learning Center, a music, theatre, and arts department, a multipurpose center (gym, assembly hall, indoor sports center), and new classrooms were all created by the College in 1995 in an effort to draw in more families. The Make a Difference Experience, which eventually changed its name to The Big Experience, became a highlight of the curriculum for its emphasis on social justice and individual growth via service to underserved communities.

However, financial strains increased, and in 2011, the College Council declared that the campus will cease at the end of the year, despite suburban expansion spurring an extension to Year 10 by 2000. Cornish’s offer was so well regarded that a group of parents established their New College Association in an effort to convince the College Council to change its mind or, in the event that it did not, to buy the land and establish a new school there in its place. A deal was completed on June 30, 2011, with a new school scheduled to start in 2012. The Uniting Church in Australia contributed funds for the purchase of the land and assets from St. Leonard’s College.

The birth of Cornish College

The first Principal of Cornish College, which opened its doors on February 2, 2012, was chosen as Kerry Bolger. The College placed a strong emphasis on education of a different kind by fusing concept-based instruction with inquiry-based learning, which was supported by the Rings of Sustainability, four lenses through which students studied important concepts. Another key issue was social justice, as reflected in the college’s motto, Make A Difference.

The College had its first cohort of Victorian Certificate of Education students by the time it had grown to Year 11 in 2014.

Growth and consolidation

In January 2016, Vicki Steer took over as Cornish’s second principal after Kerry Bolger retired in 2015. When Steer started at Cornish, the institution was still in its infancy. As a result, she played a crucial role in maintaining the institution’s solid foundations by creating strong, lucid policies, revising the Constitution, incorporating the College as a separate legal entity, updating the five-year Strategic Plan, and creating a master plan with a new Senior Studies Center that served as a model for future construction projects.

Cornish College turned five years old in 2017, and 701 students enrolled. Steer maintained the College’s dedication to sustainability, oversaw the expansion of an emphasis on outdoor learning, and played a significant role in advancing the pedagogical philosophy of the institution.


Vicki Steer departed in July 2019, and Vice Principal Nicola Forrest took her place as Cornish College’s third Principal.

Forrest keeps highlighting Cornish’s history of preparing students for a sustainable future. In order to ensure that students learn the critical and creative thinking abilities necessary to solve problems and adapt to changing situations, this vision requires breaking conventional educational standards by placing an emphasis on concepts rather than specific disciplines.

The school’s 10th anniversary is in 2022, which is a momentous occasion for an institution whose foundation was laid by countless devoted volunteers and community members. Undoubtedly, Cornish College’s development and future course will excite students, employees, and families both inside and outside the College community.

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Eumemmerring VIC 3177

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