Preshil — rigorous learning in a relaxed environment

Preshil is the oldest progressive school in Australia. As we face a rapidly changing global landscape, it’s imperative our children grow up with a curiosity about the world and have an appetite for learning, self-development and creative thought. Focusing on the education of each individual child, and on the social relationships they form, Preshil supports their development as critical and creative thinkers.

We take our “Courage to Question” motto very seriously and set this as an objective for the way teachers and students approach learning. In order for us to take this idea of questioning the validity of ideas, arguments and assumptions to another level, Preshil has transitioned away from the traditional VCE, moving instead to the International Baccalaureate (IB). The IB programmes at Preshil are inclusive, collaborative and focused on developing strong research skills, defining new areas of challenge and engaging in rigorous debate.

Academic rigour is too often assumed to have more to do with rigidity than genuine rigour; the two meanings could not be more different. Preshil students and teachers recognise that genuinely rigorous thinking and learning is not generated by formality or conventional wisdom. Rather, intellectual rigour is nurtured in a culture where there is genuine trust, individual agency, a willingness to try out new solutions, to work in partnerships and embrace mistakes.

Rigid adherence to traditional values, right answers and the prioritizing of some subjects over the ‘creative and non-core’ subjects are contributing to the “Uniform School Package” – promising school success as the reward for sticking to the rules and remaining an “Academically Rigorous” student. As a result of this, rigour has, in traditional education, come to be symbolised by high scores in exams and the amassing of conventional subject-based knowledge.

The problem with this version of rigorous rigidity is that in order to flourish in the contemporary world of tertiary study and future employment opportunities, it has to be unlearned; genuine intellectual rigour is actually hindered by neat rows of desks, authoritarian hierarchies and competitive systems that engender a fear of failure.

Rigour flourishes where debate is not confined to answering the teacher’s questions, where recognition isn’t received just for being the fastest in completing a worksheet, and where children have governance of their own learning and behaviour.

Preshil students are well equipped to enjoy debate, to play with new ideas, to imagine new solutions and to create their future world.

By experiencing an education journey that celebrates the individual, Preshil children learn about themselves and uncover their own potential with our full support. Preshil’s IB World School status gives us the means to deliver a curriculum focussed on intellectual challenge, inquiry and research-based learning, all of which accommodate individual choice and independent learning.

The school continues to produce graduates who have developed the “courage to question”, to find their own voice and to become responsible and active global citizens.

To book a tour of either our Arlington Kindergarten and Primary campus or our Blackhall Kalimna Secondary campus, please visit

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