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

Oh well Dads, it is now back to reality today as yesterday was Father's Day. I sincerely hope all of the Scotch Dads and Grandads had a special day of being spoilt and slightly indulged. Here is a short reflection to remind us all of the importance of being a dad.


I'm Happy You're My Dad

I feel safe when you are with me;
You show me fun things to do;
You make my life much better;
The best father I know is you.

I'm happy you're my Dad
And so I want to say
I love you, Dad, and wish you
A Happy Father's Day!

By Joanna Fuchs

Schools such as ours run on the numerous cyclical events that occur throughout each year. The week in which we celebrate athletics at the College is always a special time. House athletics week is one of the few weeks of the year that has the whole College (PreK-12), doing the same activity during the same week. When we combine the colour and range of events with great weather and the sensational venue, we have one of the very special feel good weeks of the year.

It is not just the spectacle of the boys giving their very best, but the level of engagement from staff, students, parents and families who make a conscious effort to get down to see their boys compete. Each year the inter-house rivalry and the bond between students within their respective Houses is palpable. Last week our playing fields were a sea of colour (scattered with some periods of grey clouds), as all three sub schools held their Inter-House Athletics Carnivals. Even more special was our Early Learning Years carnival that took place. To see our little ones (girls and boys), just commencing their schooling journey and competing and feeling so special, is a real heart warmer. I wonder how many gigabytes of memory was consumed by our young parents capturing every golden moment.

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To cap off all of the running, jumping and throwing, at the conclusion of the final carnival we are then treated to a world class performance by our Pipe Band.  I found myself asking whether it can it get any better? Well, this year we answered this by adding the formal announcement of the College's 2019 Athletic captains as part of the final presentations. These two young men will lead the school at the upcoming PSA carnival. Congratulations must go out to Lincoln Allan (Year 12, Ross House) and Lucas Triglavcanin (Year 12, St Andrews House) and their respective families.  These two young men will lead Scotch College with great pride and skill. We know the whole team will get behind them and perform to their usual high standards.

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My sincere thanks must go out to the hundreds of parents, grandparents and family friends who came down to the oval and watched, encouraged, cheered and congratulated their boys on doing their best regardless of place or the colour ribbon they earned, if any at all. Through the level of support, hard work and commitment, we yet again delivered another great week for our College community. It goes without saying that the real highlight is the level of commitment from the boys. Well done to everyone.

The last two weeks highlight the depth of character and the quality of students this College produces. Conducting our 2019/2020 leadership interviews, watching our separate athletics carnivals and observing a number of our winter sport presentation dinners, has shown not just dozens of wonderful examples of commitment and contribution, persistence and pure endeavour, mateship and respect but has also indicated the sheer number of boys right across the school who display these qualities.

The reality for all of our students is that this term, like all others, is disappearing very quickly. For our Year 12s it means they have a very limited amount of school-based instruction left before they commence preparing for their final exams. The role of family support in a boy's learning journey is so important across the whole school, not just Year 12. At Scotch College we believe parental engagement is a priority, not a challenge. While earlier I spoke about parental support at the athletic carnivals, deep engagement does not just mean through the attendance at major events such as we have seen at this week's carnivals.

A report by the Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth for the Family-School and Community Partnerships Bureau by Dr Lance Emerson Josh Fear, Dr Stacey Fox Emma Sanders (p8), highlights that "while research supports the notion that parental engagement may positively impact student academic attainment, there is an important distinction between involving parents in schooling and engaging parents in learning; it is the latter that has shown to have the greatest positive impact. While involving parents in school activities may have an important community and social function, the key to facilitating positive change in a child's academic attainment is the engagement of parents in learning outcomes in the home".

International research has shown that parental engagement (of various kinds) has a positive impact on many indicators of student achievement, including:

  • higher grades and test scores
  • enrolment in higher level programs and advanced classes
  • higher successful completion of classes
  • lower drop-out rates
  • higher graduation rates, and
  • a greater likelihood of commencing postsecondary education.

Beyond educational achievement, parental engagement is associated with various indicators of student development. These include:

  • more regular school attendance
  • better social skills
  • improved behaviour
  • better adaptation to school
  • increased social capital
  • a greater sense of personal competence and efficacy for learning
  • greater engagement in schoolwork, and
  • a stronger belief in the importance of education.

It is important that we all remember that parent school engagement is what makes our community very special and it is something we should continue to celebrate and develop for the benefit of generations to come.

Every year, poorly informed non educators, try to conjure up some metric to try and tell us what makes a great school. Student and family engagement both during and after the formal school years is a genuine indicator of a great school. Last Friday night was just such an example as more than 60 1979 leavers returned to their college to celebrate all that is great about Scotch. Funny enough, no one spoke about NAPLAN, League Tables, ATARS or any other blunt metric used by some to rate schools. Camaraderie and a genuine spirit of gratitude and sense of fun to be in each other's company again was all the 1979 leavers needed to remind themselves that they attend a truly great school. A great school develops and enhances a 'Community for Life'.

During last week our Boarders gave up their Dining Hall to a series of Winter Sport Dinners. Mr Foster, other staff and I attended a number of Winter Sports end of season functions that celebrate the physical, social and emotional joy of playing a team sport. Speaker after speaker; student, staff, coach and special guests spoke of the satisfaction of being part of a team and the camaraderie that is generated and exists long after a season finishes and for our Leavers long after they leave school.

In 2017 while I was on sabbatical, Mr Ledger shared a key message emanating from these dinners which is as relevant today as it was then. 'If you have come from or belong to a sporting club, please return to it, if you haven't, please find one!' The benefit of team sport is not gained through reputations or records for wins or losses, nor premierships and medallions; it is the social networks and the qualities of trust and reliability cultivated in this shared activity that are the real benefits'.

To the parents in the supporter's groups, your behind the scenes work is not always seen, but without it we would not get close to offering the quality of experience we do for our students during Winter Sport. Thank you all once again.

Over the next fortnight, along with Mrs Julie Dickinson and Michael Silbert (OSC President), I will be interviewing a number of Year 11s to identify and select the annual WR Dickinson and PC Anderson Scholarship winners. These scholarships recognise the contribution of our two longest serving Headmasters and are awarded to Year 11 students about to start Year 12. They recognise the depth and breadth of a student's involvement in all facets of College life.

So as per normal, the next few weeks will be busy, exciting and productive. If you have some spare time, please join us for the Year 8-10 production of 'Teechers' which runs from 4-7 September. You can book tickets online by going to our website and select Book a Scotch Event. My family and I will be there on Friday and as with all of our school productions, we will be in for a real treat. So, as they say in the classics 'Be there or be Square'.

Have a great fortnight.