26 November 2018

Dear Students, Staff, Parents, OSCs and friends of Scotch

Welcome back to Spring Term 2016. For our Years 10-12 students this time of the year marks the commencement of a new academic school year. For the staff it marks a very busy period as a new year gets up and running.

I often provide commentary on the strength of our combined community. If anyone needed further clarification or confirmation then they did not need to look any further back than to the events of last week; a week where we welcomed a number of new staff, students and their families, when we occupied our new Early Learning Centre, where our new position of Director of Wellbeing commenced and a week that culminated in one of the few times our whole schools gathers as one at March Out. I have now seen six March Outs and Friday's crowd was simply overwhelming. From where I stood it seemed like the largest attendance we have experienced; and this is saying something in itself. I would like to thank everyone who attended. Your attendance provides tacit support to our graduating Year 12s, and more generally provides a ringing endorsement of what we stand for as a College.

As we start a new academic year it is useful to remind ourselves of some of the key elements that lead to school improvement. Zabar et al. highlight ten points which contribute to a climate of improvement in schools:

  1. Engendering strong, shared leadership;
  2. Articulation of high levels of expectations of students and teacher efficacy. Good teaching is what really matters;
  3. Ensuring an orderly learning environment as a precondition;
  4. Focusing on student learning and progress;
  5. Building teaching and leadership expertise;
  6. Structuring teaching to ensure that all students experience personal success;
  7. Using data to drive improvement;
  8. Creating a culture of sharing and responsibility;
  9. Tailoring initiative to the overall direction of the school; and
  10. Fostering and promoting pride in the school.

When I look at this list I am very confident that we are on the right path. Last week encompassed many of these points and there is simply no doubt that Friday's Assembly and March Out delivered in spades on fostering pride in our School.

Most importantly the week reinforced the importance of cultural transmission and aspirational leadership. When I watched many of our graduating Year 12s interacting with our Year 2s after March Out, it gave me a great sense of pride in our senior students and hope for the future they will no doubt forge.

I ask that all families keep our Year 12s in their thoughts and prayers as the boys prepare to finish off their formal schooling. Not everyone is sitting final exams but all of the students will welcome your support for whatever endeavour they pursue over the coming few weeks.

Have a great fortnight.

Dr Alec O'Connell