Woodleigh School opened its doors in 1856 as a small independent coeducational primary school, known as St. Paul’s School. It was one of the earliest schools in the Colony of Victoria, the oldest independent coeducational school in Victoria and the first on the Mornington Peninsula.
The primary school was originally housed in a small wooden hall in the grounds of the Anglican Church near the Frankston oval and played an important part in the early days of the 19th century Victorian Colony. It provided a focus for the small, rapidly growing community and early settlers paid one shilling each week to have their children receive a ‘sound moral education’ to counter the effects of ‘larrikinism’ after the Gold Rush.
In 1970, the school moved to 3.5 hectares of land off Seaview Road in Frankston. This primary campus was called Minimbah – an Aboriginal word meaning ‘place of learning’.
In the early seventies, the feasibility of establishing a secondary school was investigated. In 1975, the Senior Campus was opened on 12.5 hectares of bushland in Baxter, retaining the name of the original farm property, ‘Woodleigh’. In 1989, 1997 and 2001, further new land was acquired to increase the area of the Senior Campus to 22 hectares.
From the beginning of 1999, the name of the combined campuses became Woodleigh School, with the Junior Campus continuing to be referred to as Minimbah.
Minimbah and Woodleigh are approximately 8 kilometres apart.