Headmasters Blog

Boarding at Scotch College

When I consider the various things that differentiate Scotch College from other school communities, a major one that comes to mind is the presence of our Residential Life community. Last week was National Boarding Week, and while Scotch will be doing a separate day of celebration in line with our Ag Day, I thought it an appropriate time to reflect on why we have Residential Life and why it is so important to our College.

For families from the city, the concept of sending your Year 7 son away to receive an education may seem very foreign; however for many of our rural, expat and international families, Scotch College offers a residential haven for their son to study, grow and flourish. I have no doubt that if, in their home towns, they had the same opportunity Scotch College offers, then most parents would have their sons stay and complete their education locally. For many this is simply not a reality. Furthermore, capital city boarding schools are seeing an increase in mid-week boarding for other reasons, not just rural isolation.

Having lived in a university residential college for 10 years, six as the Head and CEO of Trinity UWA, I came to meet 350+ students a year who had come from some form of boarding community or school. Furthermore, over dinner conversations and corridor catch ups, I was privy to the myriad of reasons why students had chosen to come to a Perth based boarding school to complete their high school education, then move into a residential college for their tertiary studies.

There are many reasons why parents choose to send their children to boarding school. Undoubtedly the main driver for both country and international families (and indeed some city families) is to provide their child with greater educational opportunities.

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For those living in rural communities, their 'local' option may be some distance from home, necessitating several hours of travel each day. International families might seek English language fluency for their child as a prerequisite to overseas tertiary education. Sending a son to boarding school is not an easy decision. Leaving aside the financial commitment, it can be a major pull on the heart strings.

Notwithstanding the obvious challenges for the families and boys, there are many benefits to boarding school that can have a life-long impact on a boy's education journey. Here are just some of the benefits of boarding.

  1. Access to a world-class education. This may not be the case for many of the families in their home region.
  2. A choice of curriculum. Students at Scotch College have a large choice of education pathways, with access to WACE, the International Baccalaureate or Vocational Education and Training programmes. This means students have a range of career options to pursue once graduating from the College.
  3. Sporting opportunities. Our boarding house opens up onto arguably the best set of sporting fields in WA if not the country. Our boarders love sport and can access the pool and gym facilities along with all of the playing fields. They also have the opportunity to join local clubs to play weekend sport outside of their PSA commitments.
  4. Independence. Boarding students quickly learn how to perform many household tasks and chores themselves and they also become more independent learners. In addition, boarders need to be responsible for managing their own money and belongings, helping them to mature earlier and become more resourceful.
  5. Friendships and connections. Boarders often form very close friendships and connections with their boarding 'family'. They have the benefit of having many shared experiences through the enormous extracurricular offering. The connections that boarders make with their fellow residents is never more apparent than during their graduating dinner when they share their stories about life in boarding.
  6. Cultural diversity International and global perspectives. Boys don't see race or colour - they see opportunities to play and relate. Boarding students benefit from living amongst boys from a range of different backgrounds and cultures.
  7. Boarding Specific Wellbeing programmes. We have a team of support staff to meet both the academic and emotional needs of boarders. Furthermore our wellbeing staff member offers an array of recreation and other activities to enhance the boys experience while in residence.
  8. Close community of learners. Living and studying together brings with it many benefits. Helping each other to achieve is just part of living in residence.
  9. Daily routines that teach co-responsibility and discipline. Strict routine and independence from parents fosters self-reliance among our boarders.
  10. Mentorship Teachers and older students in a boarding school environment are uniquely supportive of younger students.
  11. Academic Innovation. Boarding is often ahead of the curve in terms of creating or integrating innovative education techniques and improvements.
  12. An environment of learning outside of the classroom. The immersion in school life offered by boarding allows a holistic approach to learning that extends well beyond classroom walls.
  13. Culture of collaboration and responsibility. The boarding school environment encourages all children to learn more about how to work well with others.
  14. Cross curricular. The extra time allowed by boarding school allows for fuller integration of curricula and programmes.

In essence, the Residential Life community at Scotch College offers many rewarding and ongoing experiences that really do add to our College's goal of 'Preparing boys for life'.

If you are keen to find out what we can offer your son in our Residential Life community, I will be traveling throughout regional Western Australia in the coming months with our Director of Residential Life, Mr Marcus Wilkinson. We would love for you to join us, dates and further information can be found here.

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Dr Alec O'Connell FACE, FAIM, FNAAUC

As Scotch College's 7th Headmaster, I focus on preparing boys for life through focusing on values and cultural alignment.

I am a passionate educator focussed on student and community engagement. My goal as a Headmaster is to graduate future thought leaders who are prepared for life after school.


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