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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
1968    Dr Thomas Coates: Headmaster of Wesley College

‘Some thoughts on Moral Education’

1970 Professor Wilfred Frederick: Former Headmaster of Wesley College

‘Teachers and Technology’

1972    Mr Kim Beazley: Member House of Representatives

‘Education and Changing Social Philosophies and Values’

1974 Professor Leonie Kramer: Professor of Australian Literature at Sydney University

‘A Critique of Progressive Education’

1976    Dr Ian Hansen

‘Foundations and Leadership – a Moral View’

1978 Senator John Carrick: Minister of Education

‘Quo Vadis, Headmaster?’

1980    Sir James Ramsay: Governor of Queensland

‘Challenge and Change in the 1980s’

1982 Dr Dean Hutton: Science Educator and Futurist

‘New Communication Technologies – a Challenge for Education’

1984 Professor Barry McCaw: Professor of Education, Murdoch University

‘The Role of the Independent School’

1986    Mr Garth Boomer: Chairman of the Commonwealth Schools Commission

‘Creativity in Education: Making Things’

1988 Br Kelvin Canavan: Executive Director of Schools, Sydney

‘Are Independent Schools losing their Independence?’

1990 Dr Peter Ellyard: Director of the Commission for the Future

‘Education for the 21st Century’

1992 Mrs Sallyanne Atkinson: Former Lord Mayor of Brisbane

‘Dealing with People’

1994 Mr Kevin Richardson: Director of Quality Assurance, NSW Department of School Education

‘Educating for a Technological Future’

1996 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’

1998 Mrs Lorraine Elliot: Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier of Victoria for the Arts, State Member for Mooroolbark

‘The Fire in the Mind’

2000 Dr Keith Suter: Strategic Planner, Futurist and Social Commentator

‘The Past: Foundation for the Future’

2002 Dr Neville Highett: Principal of Immanuel College, SA

‘The Virtual School of the 21st Century’

2004    Dr Michael Carr–Gregg: Adolescent Psychologist

‘Australia’s Young People and their Future’

2006 Dr Fiona Wood AM: Australian of the Year

‘Reflections on a Life’

2008 Bishop Greg O’Kelly: Bishop of the Archdiocese of Adelaide, SA

‘Daring Leadership’

2010 Mr Carrillo Gantner AO: President of the Melbourne International Arts Festival Board

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

2012    The Right Reverend Kay Goldsworthy:  Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Perth

‘Embracing Change: Honouring Tradition’

2014 Hetty Johnston AM, JP:  Founder and CEO – Bravehearts Inc

‘Preventing the Preventable’ – protecting children against sexual assault

2016 Mr Billy Graham: Motivational Speaker and Fitness Advisor (NZ)

“Leaders should give every child a chance”

2018 Dr Murray J Evans: Education Consultant and former principal of Somerville House

“Towards 2040: What’s waiting around the corner in education?”