10 September 2018

Welcome back to a new term. This is now the second time we have had a three week mid-year break and the feedback, which I receive in person and anecdotally, tells me the concept is well received. When we introduced the extended break it was for a couple of years until the group of seven PSA schools could determine what effect some schools having this form of break would have on the sporting fixtures.

As you may realise, being part of the PSA is a major commitment and something all of the schools and colleges take very seriously. I am pleased to report that as a result of collaboration between the PSA schools, Scotch can now move forward with a three week mid-year break as a permanent part of the annual calendar.

Some of you may have heard the story of the boiling frog. In a 19th century experiment, researchers found that when they put a frog in a pan of boiling water, the frog quickly jumped out. On the other hand, when they put a frog in cold water and put the water to boil over time, the frog did not react and resulting outcome was death. The change in temperature was so gradual the frog did not realise things were changing.

The story of the boiling frog can be analogous to organisations; of which schools are no different. Over time many things may change for the positive, however a lot of that change is so gradual that we can become blasé about what we do well and forget to celebrate our successes. Why is this story of relevance to Scotch?

Last week we hosted some visitors from the governing body of the Hutchins School in Tasmania. Hutchins is a renowned Australian school with a rich history which enjoys a strong reputation in the education community. In many ways it has a lot in common with Scotch. The visitors were incredibly generous in their praise of what they saw during their visit to our College. The Friday Senior School assembly and marching, the vibrant Middle School, the quality of the Junior School playgrounds, our continued growth such as the new Early Learning Centre and the quality of the boarding houses were just some of the many compliments we received.

Most importantly they commented on the presentation and demeanor of our boys, which at the end of the day is the most important type of feedback we could have received.

It is on this note that I would like to thank all families for the way they responded to my letter about our expectations pertaining to standards and the personal presentation of the boys. The change was clearly noticeable from day one. However, this is not a one off request. I ask that parents ensure the boys maintain these standards throughout the whole year.

This term marks the most important one for our Year 12s. It is our job to support our senior boys as they work towards finishing their educational journey at Scotch. I ask that wherever possible you support our boys in your thoughts, prayers and deeds.

In his book 'The Art of Belonging' Hugh Mackay provides us with a reminder of the importance of communities:

'We are, by nature, social creatures who congregate; it's in our cultural DNA. We are not good at surviving in isolation. We rely on communities to support and sustain us, and if those communities are to survive and prosper, we must engage with them and nurture them. That's the beautiful symmetry of human society; we need communities and they need us.'

I look forward to an exciting term and the opportunity to meet with many of you and share the vibrancy of our own community through the numerous activities this term will deliver.

Have a great fortnight.

Dr Alec O'Connell