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

Education that Counts

As a parent, choosing the right school to educate your child is perhaps one of the most considered decisions you will ever make. Knowing that your son or daughter is a unique individual who needs to be stretched, nurtured, extended and supported at various times and perhaps in a different way to the next child, makes selecting a single institution a challenging task. To add to that complexity, if you are also factoring in the future focussed rhetoric, claiming the current model of education is sorely lacking in building our children's capacity to cope in this changing world, you would not be alone in feeling a little concerned. In fact, for many of our parents who care deeply about their child's education, this has already been a hard decision and you have trusted Scotch College to guide and help answer some of these questions. It's important that you know how our school is making a difference in preparing your son for this journey.

Often a school will be measured by its performance when it really counts. And, if you believed the generalised statements in the media, it counts when NAPLAN scores are high, the median ATAR places you further up the league tables and the number of students earning subject awards is at an all-time record. But our community knows that these measures are limited and only fit within an Australian context. Equally, correlation between these measures and success beyond the classroom is weak at best. Education is far more complex than that and if people are solely interested in these limited methods, they will be falling well short of what education is supposed to be in this modern era. Education really counts all the time. It is the engagement in the classroom, it is the connection with the teacher, it is the deep level of understanding that is developed when young minds are allowed to inquire. But further to this, quality education is concerned with the learner. It is equally designed to draw out their social capabilities as it is to teach them the magic of learning theories and concepts that invested academics have worked hard to uncover, and at the same time try to create an environment where the student feels the discovery was all theirs.

Further to this, education in a modern era understands that no child is able to learn to their potential unless they feel safe, nurtured and supported. A child needs to know that people within their school care more about them than their performance. This doesn't mean that the school does not have high expectations, these are critical too, but a child's wellbeing is paramount when it comes to reaching their potential. Without a sense of self and a sense of belonging, a child's ability to focus and engage is compromised. Setting goals and providing feedback makes a student own their learning journey and again places them at the centre of the experience. And, just to make sure that all this learning has relevance in the global community, modern education will teach students about the importance of service learning and how their unique human qualities can provide so much for others and at the same time support their own wellbeing.

Finally, if education is able to balance this with the opportunities to discover strengths and talents, whether that be in co-curricular programmes such as academics, sporting, or the arts, it is now starting to create an education system that really counts all the time. It's not easy to explain to another parent the value you see in the education you have chosen for your child, because it offers something different for everyone. I would argue, that is the value.