27 November 2017

Headmaster's Reflections

Welcome back from the mid-term break. I trust everyone took advantage to recharge their batteries over what was a magnificent few days to catch some sun or simply hide away in your favourite space or place.

As a College our vision is to develop a learning community with an international standard of excellence including a mission to develop boys of character with a strong self-understanding, a passion for sustained learning and spiritual inquiry who will become valued members of the global community. It is imperative that we engage in relevant strategic global opportunities to ensure we continue to work towards achieving our stated goals and aspirations. In doing so we ensure that our vision and mission are lived each and every day and not simply seen as empty words on a page.

There are two key aspects to our College's teaching and learning programmes; these are our academic and co-curricular focus. We have chosen two key organisations, the International Baccalaureate and Round Square to align with and provide us with global benchmarking.

As a three programme (PYP, MYP and Diploma) International Baccalaureate World School we not only have to meet our Western Australian and Australian Curriculum academic benchmarks, but every three years we are also subject to an in-depth curriculum evaluation visit as part of being a baccalaureate school. This includes visiting assessors from the head office in Singapore, including at least two other assessors from schools across the globe.

Our College has always had a great reputation for an expansive co-curricular programme. When we first looked into the Round Square organisation, it was immediately apparent that becoming a member would provide us with a formalised opportunity to provide global benchmarking for everything else we do outside of the classroom.

We believe that the Round Square's focus on IDEALS, standing for Internationalisation, Democracy, Environment, Activity, Leadership and Service, provides Scotch with a framework for our vast array of activities and programmes offered through our co-curricular programme. Furthermore, participation in Round Square would help us coordinate student exchange opportunities at Scotch. Since gaining Round Square regional status two years ago we have had over 21 students complete exchange programmes with schools from across the globe. Furthermore, one of our staff members has been a Deputy Leader and Leader of two summer service programmes to Nicaragua and Cambodia respectively. These two outcomes alone support our decision to become a Round Square School.

On Sunday April 10 over 150 students aged 12 - 14 years old from fellow Round Square schools across Australia and our region will start arriving for a four day live-in conference hosted by Scotch. Last week I attended the two day regional Round Square meeting in Tokyo where we presented our final update and synopsis for the upcoming conference.

Given we are on the eve of this inaugural event for our College as a member of Round Square, I thought it is fitting to provide the community with some background to the Round Square.

The founder Kurt Hahn

Kurt Hahn was a German educator and a key figure in the development of experiential education. To this day his philosophies have far-reaching international influence that has stood the test of time. Hahn believed that students could only really understand life by experiencing it in many exciting and challenging ways. By testing themselves, students would be able to develop their courage, generosity, imagination, principles and resolution. Ultimately they would develop the skills and abilities to become the guardians and leaders of the future. He also believed that the greatest thing one could learn - and inspire in others - was compassion. Inspired by this principle, the Round Square network of schools share practical opportunities to guide and support students in becoming courageous and compassionate leaders.

Who is Round Square?

Round Square is a not-for-profit membership network, registered as a charity in the UK and governed by a Board under the Presidency of His Majesty King Constantine. Currently there are 150 Round Square member schools worldwide representing a student capacity in the region of 90,000 and a teacher/management workforce of around 7,500. The Round Square Management Team has a worldwide office in Windsor, UK and Regional Support Managers based and working with the network in each of the Round Square regions.

What does Round Square Do?

Round Square schools share a passion for experiential learning. Together Round Square Schools endeavour to ensure that pupils have every opportunity to achieve in ways and to levels beyond their perceived limits. The Round Square also believes that in order to prepare for adult life, young people must be encouraged to discover and embrace the similarities and differences between cultures and nationalities in ways that promote meaningful and lasting understanding, tolerance and respect.

The Round Square approach doesn't focus on what is taught but rather how learning takes place. It recognises that learning is most effective when it is practical, cross-cultural and collaborative, and when it is infused through a broad spectrum of inter, extra and co-curricula activities. In joining the Round Square Network, member schools make a commitment to embedding our shared IDEALS throughout every day learning activities within our College.

Why does Round Square do what it does?

Round Square cares passionately about what happens in the future to our world and to the fascinating variety of cultures and communities it supports. As a combined group of schools we want those communities to thrive and prosper and care about each other in mutual cooperation.

That's quite a challenge. As educators we believe that we have a responsibility to shape the way in which the next generation of business, political and community leaders understand, prepare for, and respond to, this challenge.

How does Round Square try to achieve its goals and aims?

Round Square is a collaboration of like-minded schools.

Supported by an elected Board and an employed staff team, member schools work together to build and benefit from a mutually supportive and respectful network. Each school shares - and benefits from others' - ideas, methods, experience, opportunities, locally, regionally and internationally. Collaborative initiatives include local, regional and international:

  • Service Projectsthat connect students directly with communities where their hard work as volunteers can be of real practical benefit;
    • student and teacher visits and exchanges
    • student-led conferences that celebrate cultural diversity; and
    • training and professional development opportunities for teaching staff.

In essence, we believe that our vision and mission at Scotch closely aligns to the work of Round Square. Our membership opens up opportunities to enhance the educational journey of students, staff and families as a result of being part of the Round Square group of schools.

We have only just begun our journey as a Round Square school and there is still much to be done to embed the IDEALS into our College. Should anyone wish to discuss anything pertaining to Round Square please feel free to contact Mr Bill Cordner, our Director of Community and Service. Mr Cordner has Executive responsibility for Round Square at the College and has been integral to how far we have come in such a short time. Should anyone wish to do their own research about Round Square they can do so by visiting www.roundsquare.org.

I would like to congratulate our JPSSA students who have already represented the College at their Inter-School carnival and wish our PSA swimming squad all the very best for their carnival this Thursday 10 March.

In closing, I would like to give the community a final reminder that we are hosting 'The Choir of Hard Knocks' this Thursday at 6.30pm in the DC. The event has already attracted a lot of media interest and I know you will be amazed at this event should you be able to attend. Tickets are still available through our web site.

Have a great fortnight.

Dr Alec O'Connell

Headmaster