12 November 2018

Dear Scotch Community,

Welcome back to another year. In particular I would like to extend a personal welcome to all of the new families at Scotch College this year. I sincerely appreciate that you have chosen to place the care and education of your son, or in the case of our 3/4-year-old programme, possibly your daughter, in our hands. The excitement and vibrancy of the students this week was palpable. As I often remark, without our students and staff, Scotch College is just a series of buildings and grounds in Swanbourne. The people who attend, visit and support our College, provide the heartbeat bringing life and energy to everything we do.

The tone and benchmark for the start of the year was once again well and truly set by our Scotch Parents Welcome Back BBQ. This followed the work put in across the whole weekend from our Residential Life staff in transitioning our boarders back after their break. I would like to pass on my sincere thanks to the Scotch Parents' committee and their dedicated team for delivering such a great welcome back function on Monday 29 January. It was simply a fantastic evening and just one of the many examples of why our community is second to none.

During last week, I attended a couple of parent evenings where it was great to see so many returning and new faces. As Headmaster, one of the major things I ask from all of the community is that we ensure we look after our new families during these initial weeks. I can still remember my own start at Scotch College and how welcoming the community was and just what this meant to my own family. Engagement makes a huge difference for all of us when we start at somewhere new. To our new families I urge you to meet your class and year representatives and get involved in your child's journey. Furthermore, become engaged with your Scotch Parents meetings and activities. I know we are all busy but the more you engage with the Scotch community, the more you will realise just how special Scotch College can be.

As we start a new year it is worth reinforcing that most successful organisations are those that keep the channels of communication open and streamlined. Last week I sent a global letter out regarding wellbeing and pastoral care. If you didn't have a chance to read this as yet, I urge you to take the time re-read this with your family. Another copy can be found here. Also attached is the Wellbeing and Pastoral Care Contact List.

The first point of contact for all parents should be the person who can give you the quickest direct answer. In the first instance this is very often the classroom teacher or in Senior School, the subject teacher. In essence, if you are unsure who to contact then call the administrative support staff at the respective sub-school and they will ensure your query is handled efficiently and effectively through getting the most relevant staff member to get back to you. In a world where we now over use email and SMS due to convenience, an in-person chat or question can in many cases result in a far better outcome as opposed to a string of reply-all emails.

Speaking of emails, I need to reinforce that there is no expectation of any staff to be communicating via email or such like after 6.00pm at night during the working week. Likewise, enquiries sent via email cannot always be answered or responded to immediately. My expectation is that some kind of response, even if it is preliminary pending further follow up, should be received within 24 hours of sending an initial enquiry. Our staff are very professional and service focused, but they also have many multi-faceted daily requests so I ask that you allow them time to address your queries professionally in a realistic timeframe.

As part of our duty of care to our boys and their families, I request that if you have experienced a change in circumstances in the family or legal matters such as custody and access orders, please send updated copies of documents or alert my Personal Assistant Mrs Fern Purio via email on Fern.Purio@scotch.wa.edu.au. This is essential for myself and your family.

Finally, if you are reading this message you have already made the correct start regarding College communication. The Thistle, in conjunction with any specific sub-school communications, is a critical part of our how our families keep abreast of what is happening. Over the course of a year it is extraordinary just how much occurs across our College. If in doubt just ask us for help.

On a personal note, if you are a new family and see me out and about either at the College, or in the community, come up and say hello. I welcome such interactions.

Have a great start to the term and I look forward to catching up with you throughout the course of the year.

Dr A J O'Connell
Headmaster