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

The 2024 Well Orations will be presented by Shelley Ware

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.

Past Presenters

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?”
2022 Mrs Jessica Stenson (née Trengove): an Australian  long-distance runner who competes in distances from 5000 metres up to the  marathon. She represented Australia at the 2012 London Olympics and 2016 Rio  de Janeiro Olympics in the marathon.