The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

Given what we originally believed lay ahead for Autumn Term, the thought of having been able to complete a full term of classes, never mind a full series of Thistle articles, seemed out of the realms of possibility. Anyway, here we are one week away from our extended mid-year break and much has been achieved, albeit in a different context with some interesting restrictions and challenges.


According to the dictionary, the word opportunity refers to 'a time or set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something'. Over the last couple of weeks, I have had numerous chances to reflect upon the variety and extent of opportunities presented to our boys each and every day. Just to mention a few across the last fortnight, I have watched boys across all three sub-schools compete in sport, provide service to those less fortunate in our community, plan for online assemblies and chapels, prepare for exams, complete a myriad of class-based activities, participate in Music, head off to experience Perth-based Outdoor Education excursions, rehearse for our next production and, just last Friday, receive a series of Headmaster's Commendations showcasing the myriad achievements of our boys across the years.

My fortnight also included a surprise visit to my office from our Kindergarten students who were dressed up as Kindness Ninjas, bringing joy and love to others. No doubt I have left a number of things out, but with these examples I hope that you get my drift.

Opportunity is something not lost on our graduating year of Year 12s. Over the last three weeks I have been holding Headmaster House Lunches with the leaving class of 2020. The insights and feedback have been simply amazing. A common thread has been the boys' reference to the opportunities they have had across their journey. It has been especially interesting hearing our young men speak about their COVID-19 journey and what it has taught them. The most important feedback is about what we should never change at Scotch, and where we can improve. The boys' contributions have been both insightful and meaningful and will hopefully shape our plans moving forward.

As educators and parents, let us never take for granted the opportunities we all have at Scotch College to engage in the education of our students and support their ongoing journey. Having attended our supporter parent group meeting last week, it reminded me of how much enjoyment parents can get by becoming involved with the College. I am continually astounded and grateful at the level of support and volunteerism we receive from our families.

Pastoral care founded on harmony and partnership

At Scotch College, the concepts of harmony and partnership are at the core of who we are and why we exist. In a complex and challenging world, schools and families have to work in harmony and partnership if our students are to succeed and become functioning citizens after graduation. At times this relationship can be challenging and, in some cases, disappointing, however in the majority of cases it is the life blood of who we are. Likewise, our pastoral programmes and systems are in place to ensure that each student can journey through Scotch with dignity and safety. At all times we try and start from a basis of restorative strategies aimed at educating and guiding our students. However, at the end of the day there are times when the message simply does not get through and being a student at Scotch is a privilege, not a right.

Again, there are times, where for complex reasons, relationships between boys break down and require thoughtful and rational intervention. This is why we are here, to ensure that every boy is served and thrives through our Christian values and morals; while at the same time being given the life skills that teach resilience and promote balance; avoiding the development of learned helplessness or co-dependency.

A welcomed break

As we commence the last week of Autumn Term, let us all be grateful for being able to live, work and interact in this great community. More than ever before I have come to understand just how fortunate we are to live, work and play in such a special place. Obviously the last few months have posed some challenges, with more to come, however, this term has offered so much to our boys, staff, parents and the wider Scotch community. As I look forward to Winter Term, I do so knowing that it too will bring with it great experiences, challenges and excitement.

Have a great week, enjoy the break and most of all stay safe.

Dr Alec J O'Connell