This article originally appeared in IB Global News, which provides an array of news and information about IB programmes, professional development and research.
When asked to describe the culture at Scotch College in Perth, Western Australia, Headmaster Dr Alec O’Connell says that the College, founded in 1897, embodies a culture of leadership and innovation while honouring the Scottish traditions of its founders. The key strategic driver is 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.
How does the school’s Scottish history impact on day-to-day life at the school?
Every day we remain conscious of acknowledging our history through the lens of a modern and progressive international school. Positions in the Scottish Pipe Band are highly sought and recognized as integral to the leadership programme.Our ancestors are acknowledged in our school song and in our many formal celebrations. Underpinning these traditions is the value of stewardship which focuses on caring for others in the global and local community.
What is the biggest challenge facing a continuum school?
In 2013 we faced our biggest challenge yet with three evaluations held over a 12-month period. In the PYP and the MYP Scotch College was celebrating 10 years of successful implementation. With the Diploma Programme undergoing its first evaluation, it was time to truly reflect on our journey towards becoming a three-programme school. Each sub-school has developed a philosophy appropriate to the age group but we came together as a whole school to reflect on what connects our parent communities, our teaching styles and our learning. Communication was the greatest stumbling block. Our large campus is divided physically by a busy road and in many ways this created a disconnect in the way we communicate.
In all three action plans there is a commitment to building stronger connections through the learner profile, shared approaches to service and the environment and using the older students as models of what we want the younger students to become. In 2013 the opening of an underpass connected our schools and has become symbolic of this renewed commitment to building strong connections between the boys as they progress through the school.
Can you describe how you use collaborative planning to support the continuum?
Our parents and teachers have a shared goal: to develop open-minded students that are balanced in their decision-making and caring towards others. We are strong believers in working in collaboration with our parents and boys. Each year the parents and students in years 5, 7 and 12 complete an in-depth survey to provide their views on meeting expectations in areas such as quality of teaching, student welfare, management and leadership, to name a few. The results of this valuable feedback lead to lengthy discussion and collaborative planning, resulting in the Strategic Plan of the College to take us forward confidently over the ensuing three years.
In essence, the journey to being a three-programme IB World School has provided us with a framework through which to review and improve our pedagogy and curriculum. Furthermore, it has given us the framework to make a contribution within an international context. Coupled with our recent successful application to be a round square school, Scotch is positioned to ensure graduates can make a significant difference no matter where they live or work in the world.