A new age of Boarding At Scotch

Modern boarding is far different from what parents may remember of the 1980s and 90s, but it isn't just the facilities or technology that have changed. The most profound transformations can be seen in colleges that have embraced shifts in society, invested in valued-based education and dedicated time and effort into building self-confidence, compassion and open-mindedness in their students.

Scotch College has always been at the forefront of change when it comes to the pursuit of personal excellence and its commitment to nurturing a healthy culture, which sets high expectations of respect and integrity, has had an overwhelmingly positive and lasting impact on its boarding community.

Head of Boarding Jordan Owenell said creating an effective culture that rejects antisocial behaviours such as bullying isn't something that happens by chance.

"A lot of time and effort is directed towards the older students undertaking courses on leadership and values-based education at school, so that they become really strong and compassionate role models for the younger boys, who invariably look up to the seniors" Mr Owenell said.

"We put a lot of work into supporting the boys to become comfortable in their own skin and to achieving good things at school. They also become very caring and willing to engage with their younger peers.

"Fostering relationships between Year 7s and Year 12s is critical in creating a safe and welcoming environment, particularly in our boarding community, and we are very proud of the exceptional example our senior boarders set and the people they become throughout their years at Scotch."

Last year senior boarders initiated the "Buddy-up" programme, which involves pairing a Year 7 with a Year 12 student, to give them some additional support during their early weeks at boarding school and help them to quickly expand their networks.

"This concept was developed by student leaders in the boarding house after they recognised how difficult it could be for new boarders who didn't have big brothers at the school, which shows just how much compassion they have for the younger students," Mr Owenell said.

While nothing can replace a positive culture and supportive community, Scotch's investment into new technology has also been a game changer over recent years, when it comes to easing the transition to boarding.

"Unlike a generation ago, when some boarders would have started their first day having never even met some of their peers, we can now use world-class conferencing technology to give Year 7s the opportunity to get to know staff and their peers through our Taigh Programme," Mr Owenell said.

"Boarders meet face-to-face before commencing the online program, which involves weekly interactive sessions for the six months leading up to their first day at Scotch.

"We also visit many of the incoming boarders in their homes so we can really get to know them and their families and understand where they are coming from.

"It is important from the very beginning that the boys and their parents feel certain Scotch is the best place for them to reach their potential and make lifelong friendships, as this sets the boys up for a happy boarding experience that they will always remember fondly."

Scotch continually promotes its values of stewardship, integrity and respect right throughout the schooling years and maintains a strong focus on the wellbeing of all boarders.

Academic achievement is important for boarders and their families, however, there can be concerns the educational standards at Scotch may be higher that what they've previously experienced. To alleviate these concerns and ensure each boy reaches their potential, boarders are given access to tutors every night during prep, with dedicated staff members assigned to track their academic performance and to individualise the academic journey.

The College has also invested millions into its Boarding facilities and structures over recent years, with modernised accommodation providing greater privacy and a more homely atmosphere.  

"Some things never change, and we've always been very fortunate that Scotch is located just moments from the beach and Swan River, and that our boarding houses overlook 10 hectares of playing fields," Mr Owenell said.

"However, unlike 20 or 30 years ago, our boarding houses now mirror the structure of our day school, with the Middle School boarders living in their own house and attending Middle School during the day, and the boys from Years 9–12 living in the Senior House and attending Senior School during the day.

"This allows us to better support the boys at each stage of their development and form stronger links between teaching and boarding staff.

"The younger boys are given those first two years to adjust to boarding and school life and spend time bonding as a cohort."

Mr Owenell said as the boys grow in independence and maturity, they are given the space and privacy they need in the senior house, however the whole boarding community regularly get together as one and share experiences.

"We also have staff members who live on site with their families, which creates a well-rounded community that feels like home," Mr Owenell said.

"As the boys feel safe, happy and secure they are then taught to develop a strong work ethic and push themselves out of their comfort zone which expands their breadth of experience and helps them discover new talents."

"They are able to do this within a caring and supportive atmosphere."

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