Skip to Main Content

A story of visionary education

Becoming a Beacon of Innovative Education 

ELTHAM College was conceived in 1973 as a new concept in independent, co-educational schooling. Founded by Les Clarke, a founding Partner of ClarkeHopkinsClarke Architects, the establishment of the College was further driven by a dynamic group of educators and community members who were seeking schooling for their own children. Schooling that would step beyond mainstream educational practice. Evolving from a bold idea, ELTHAM was to become a beacon of innovative education – education that fostered the talents, confidence, initiative and passion for learning in every individual. This marked the beginning of our rich college history as a pioneer in innovative educational practices.
The notion of ELTHAM as one of Australia’s few truly independent schools was envisioned within the creative culture of Nillumbik Shire, northeast of Melbourne. Historically, this district has long been a centre for free thinking and innovation. For years, artists, writers and intellectuals have been drawn to Nillumbik for inspiration. It’s no accident that ELTHAM’s founders steered their vision for the future here, creating an environment that fosters both academic excellence and personal growth, with a strong sense of environmental awareness and community spirit. College history reveals that ELTHAM's founding reflects a unique blend of educational philosophy and community engagement.

In the inaugural year of its founding, ELTHAM College established the school’s pastoral care emphasis, creating a solid foundation for the holistic wellbeing of every child. Referred to as the ‘Educational Triangle’ - the concept underscored the synergy between student, home, and school - forming the basis of our nurturing and supportive community environment. This aspect of college history highlights the early commitment to student welfare and community integration.

Eltham College History students doing art
Eltham College History 1985 ELC puzzle

Celebrating 50 Years of ELTHAM College

Throughout 2024 we will be celebrating our anniversary year with an exciting program of events, bringing our whole community together to mark this significant occasion.

College History - The Evolution of ELTHAM 

ELTHAM’s organic growth focused on balancing academic excellence with pastoral and co-curricular engagements – aligned with the idea that young people should be encouraged to become self-managing individuals in society. These themes still permeate our learning programs today: here, education is a daring adventure. Our college history reflects this commitment to holistic development.

Our curriculum has always been expansive and robust, committed to providing an education experience that caters to the individual needs of each child. This approach has been validated by the success of our students, who have benefited from the establishment of various world-class facilities and innovative real-world educational programs. College history showcases our dedication to personalized learning and student success.

A school must continually evolve, adapt, and grow to thrive. ELTHAM’s focus on fresh thinking and imaginative practice resulted in the launch of the knowledge era schooling in 2000. Our challenge is to anticipate the skills required by young people, to not only keep up with the changing world, but provide future leadership in it. This aspect of our college history underscores our commitment to educational innovation and forward-thinking.

As we move forward, ELTHAM College remains dedicated to nurturing the next generation of thinkers, leaders, and innovators, ensuring that our college history is not just remembered, but continues to be written with each passing year. 
Our vibrant learning community is a testament to the collective efforts of our founders, staff, student families, and the wider community, all sharing in the school’s unwavering vision to grow hearts and minds, for a better future. 

Eltham College History 1985 ELC puzzle
ELTHAM College History - 50 Film Photography Challenge

50th Anniversary Film and Photography Challenge

Help tell the story of the College’s history, present and future through short films and photographs. Entries can be submitted by students and alumni as individuals and/or teams – realise your own vision or team up for a collab.

Learn More