11 September 2017

Last week, along with our Director of Residential Life Mr Marcus Wilkinson, I had the unique opportunity to drive some 1700+ kms and visit a number of families from some of the rural communities that make up approximately 10% of our College's student population.

For many of these families, attending Scotch for their son(s) adds a level of complexity that many 'day' families may find hard to comprehend. Just returning from our trip on Saturday gave us some insight. Getting back to the College to attend PSA sport involved a 6.30am departure and driving 3.5 hours in order to get back with enough time to catch some of the morning's programme.

For many of our rural families, traveling to watch their son in any school activity is simply a reality, not one they begrudge, but another major commitment when it comes to having a son living away from home.

Throughout my many conversations with rural families across the week, one word stood out, that is, 'opportunity'. The Cambridge dictionary defines the word opportunity as:

'an occasion or situation that makes it possible to do something that you want to do or have to do, or the possibility of doing something new'.

Parents reflected on the number of opportunities provided to all boys at Scotch, not just those in residence. It implores and challenges us to ensure that our boys avail themselves of the number of opportunities on offer day in and day out. If one just looks at the last two weeks, and the coming weeks, there are a myriad of activities and opportunities for all boys across the whole school.

Over recent weeks there has been a lot of press coverage about the funding of Independent Schools. A large part of the fee we charge is simply to bridge the shortfall between what we receive in government funding support and what it takes to run a standard school the size of Scotch. Approximately 86% of the College's expenditure is focused on salaries, administration and overheads, facilities, interest and depreciation and debt repayment.

While funding helps us to deliver choice and opportunity, the true value add for boys and their families, emanates from the willingness of our students and staff to engage in co-curricular pursuits outside of their already incredibly busy schedules. This commitment continues to both amaze and inspire me; it is at the core of what really makes a difference for our student experience. Without the high level of commitment and good will of the staff, OSC, parents, and of course our students, funding would never be enough to deliver the total value add Scotch experience.

As a person who is well aware of the myriad of events and activities happening each and every week and one who lives and breathes many of the College's activities, I am still amazed and inspired when I read publications such as the 2016 Reporter which was recently circulated. In the next couple of weeks, families should receive a copy of our most recent Clan which is yet another publication showing the amazing array of activities and successes across our three sub-schools.

Speaking of opportunities and events, if you are free and get the chance, our Senior School annual production, entitled Dunsinane, by David Greig, is on this week. The production runs from 14 -17 June commencing each evening at 7.00pm in the Dickinson Centre, with a 2.00pm matinee on 17 June.

Let us continue to encourage each other to take every opportunity which this great community offers to all of us each and every day.

Have a great fortnight.

Dr A J O'Connell
Headmaster