World Teachers' Day: celebrating our greatest asset

October 27 2023 is the Day Australia celebrates World Teachers' Day with the theme of 'Hats off to Teachers'

"You don't build a top school; you build top teachers and then top teachers build top schools"

As we move into the final phase of the school year, and with our leaving Year 12s sitting their final exams, it is timely to reflect on the valuable contribution by our incredible teaching staff that got them there.

We know there are many great things that go together to make Scotch a great school and community, but today we remember just how important our teachers are to the development of our students from Pre-Kindergarten through to when they graduate in Year 12. Scotch is a school with world class facilities, the latest technology, strong parent body and a dynamic curriculum, but our real jewels in the crown are our teachers. Their level of personal and professional commitment is as high as I have witnessed throughout my own professional career.


In what has become a seminal meta-analysis (a study of multiple research papers) of what has the most effect on quality outcomes for students, Professor Hatti confirmed that the impact of teachers is clear across most of the variables he analysed. Put simply, it is the quality of the teacher in front of a student that matters, not whether a school has a shiny new facility with all the modern teaching resources. The impact of each teacher is to be commended.

Like in most organisations, none of us are perfect, that is part of being human. From time to time, there may be occasions where parents or students may query our staff and programmes. This is normal, but on balance I would have no hesitation if a Scotch teacher were put in front of my own children anytime, anywhere.

Every day, some 1500+ students are entrusted into the care and leadership of over 220 teachers here at Scotch College. I am proud to lead some of the finest teachers in the country at our School, whose expertise and dedication to their field is second to none. But it is what our teachers do beyond the classroom that makes them invaluable. What makes a great teacher stand out from a good one is their discretionary effort to genuinely care for our boys and their respective academic and personal growth.


Our teachers don't just teach. They build relationships and trust. They empathise. They show compassion, care and respect for the individuals they teach every day. Most importantly, they shape lives. I'm sure everyone can cast their minds back to school days and recall a favourite teacher. And I bet that teacher did more than just teach you the fundamentals of history or maths. That teacher inspired you, cared for you in times of challenge and inspired you to be a better person. That teacher created a safe space for you to learn and explore the world.

So, what does it mean to be a teacher? The answer goes far beyond any curriculum framework or textbook. Not only are our teachers teaching fundamental skills to our students, but also inadvertently acting as role models, leaders and people to aspire to. That is what makes a great teacher, and in turn, a great school.

Today, Australia celebrates World Teachers' Day, a day established to acknowledge the valuable work of teachers in classrooms and other educational environments. This year, like every year at Scotch, we acknowledge and thank the work of all teachers across the globe for the role they play in shaping the bright future of the next generation.


Dr Alec J O'Connell

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