Wesley College was founded in 1866 in Prahran by the Methodist Church. Focusing on religious morality and academic achievement to combat perceived moral degeneration in the colonies, it provided the children of wealthier Methodist families with an education suitable for their social status. Wesley's rise to premier status among Melbourne's independent schools was largely the result of the efforts of Lawrence Arthur Adamson, appointed in 1887. An old boy of Rugby School in England, Adamson turned away from the focus on intellectualism and piety, and instead successfully encouraged sport to develop 'manliness', foster 'school spirit', and increase the public profile of the school. After Adamson became headmaster in 1902, enrolments rapidly increased and Wesley leapt to the forefront in terms of sporting results and, almost incidentally, academic achievement. Since Adamson's time Wesley has maintained its social standing as one of the 'big six' of the Victorian private secondary schools. A Uniting Church school with campuses in Prahran, Elsternwick and Glen Waverley, Wesley College, which became coeducational in 1978, caters for approximately 3600 pupils from preparatory school through to year 12.