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IPSHA Wells Oration

The Wells Oration is presented at the biennial conference of the Independent Primary School Heads of Australia.

In 1968, at the Conference and Refresher School held at Newington College, a landmark occurred in the development of the Association – the introduction of the Wells Oration.

On the morning of 7 February 1967, Edward Adrian Wells (known affectionately as Eddie to his colleagues) took his place on the platform of the assembly hall at Wesley College, to go through the routine of opening a new school year – the thirtieth time he had performed that task.  Whilst allocating the boys to their classes he was taken ill and in a short time was dead.

Eddie Wells began his teaching career at Wesley College Junior School in Melbourne in 1920, and after being a member of the staff under two other Heads, spent thirty years as Headmaster of the Junior School.  He had a distinguished career academically and professionally; and in games – especially rowing, football and athletics – during his active years.  As a foundation member of the Junior School Heads’ Association, as it was known then,  he soon became well known to all his colleagues in Junior Schools across the country – for his charm, wisdom and infectious humour.  To quote Dr Coates, who was Headmaster of Wesley at the time of Eddie’s sudden death: “he was a man of large frame and large character. A gifted and highly successful teacher, his understanding of junior boys was nothing short of phenomenal.  Gracious and dignified of speech, he always had boys ‘speaking their best’ to him; yet his playful good humour, and, on occasion his rollicking sense of fun were always available to keep life from becoming sombre”.  He was married with two sons.  Association members during Eddie Wells’ years remember him as a personality and a professional schoolmaster of impeccable integrity.  It was because of these memories of him and the values that he stood for that his Association colleagues in 1967 considered some kind of memorial to him.  Finally, after a unanimous vote of the Council and with the consent of Eddie’s widow, it was decided to establish this memorial in the form of an inspirational address to be delivered at future biennial Conferences, to be known as the Wells Oration.


Record of Speakers


Dr Thomas Coates: Headmaster of Wesley College

‘Some thoughts on Moral Education’


Professor Wilfred Frederick: Former Headmaster of Wesley College

‘Teachers and Technology’


Mr Kim Beazley: Member House of Representatives

‘Education and Changing Social Philosophies and Values’


Professor Leonie Kramer: Professor of Australian Literature at Sydney University

 ‘A Critique of Progressive Education’


Dr Ian Hansen

‘Foundations and Leadership – a Moral View’


Senator John Carrick: Minister of Education

‘Quo Vadis, Headmaster?’


Sir James Ramsay: Governor of Queensland

‘Challenge and Change in the 1980s’


Dr Dean Hutton: Science Educator and Futurist

‘New Communication Technologies – a Challenge for Education’


Professor Barry McCaw: Professor of Education, Murdoch University

‘The Role of the Independent School’


Mr Garth Boomer: Chairman of the Commonwealth Schools Commission

‘Creativity in Education: Making Things’


Br Kelvin Canavan: Executive Director of Schools, Sydney

‘Are Independent Schools losing their Independence?’


Dr Peter Ellyard: Director of the Commission for the Future

‘Education for the 21st Century’


Mrs Sallyanne Atkinson: Former Lord Mayor of Brisbane

‘Dealing with People’


Mr Kevin Richardson: Director of Quality Assurance, NSW Department of School Education

‘Educating for a Technological Future’


Professor Donald Watts: Dean of Research and Postgraduate Studies, University of Notre Dame

‘Choice and Independence: Elements in the Debate on Social Justice for all Australians’


Mrs Lorraine Elliot: Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier of Victoria for the Arts, State Member for Mooroolbark

‘The Fire in the Mind’


Dr Keith Suter: Strategic Planner, Futurist and Social Commentator

‘The Past: Foundation for the Future’


Dr Neville Highett: Principal of Immanuel College, SA

‘The Virtual School of the 21st Century’


Dr Michael Carr–Gregg: Adolescent Psychologist

‘Australia’s Young People and their Future’


Dr Fiona Wood AM: Australian of the Year

‘Reflections on a Life’


Bishop Greg O’Kelly: Bishop of the Archdiocese of Adelaide, SA

‘Daring Leadership’


Mr Carrillo Gantner AO: President of the Melbourne International Arts Festival Board

‘A Passion for the Arts and a Passion for Asia’


The Right Reverend Kay Goldsworthy:  Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Perth

‘Embracing Change: Honouring Tradition’


Hetty Johnston AM, JP:  Founder and CEO – Bravehearts Inc

‘Preventing the Preventable’ – protecting children against sexual assault

(Junior School 1936-1967)

Selected excerpts from the first sixteen Wells Orations appear in the publication Lighting the Flame which may be downloaded from this website.