Headmasters Blog

How Boarding at Scotch prepares a boy for life

Sending a son to boarding school is not an easy decision, but the benefits can have a lifelong impact

For families from the city, the concept of sending your Year 6 or 7 son away to receive an education may seem very foreign. However, for many of our rural and international families, Scotch College offers a residential haven for their son to study, grow and flourish. I do not doubt that many parents would have their sons stay and complete their education locally if they were afforded opportunities of a similar calibre to Scotch College. For many, this is simply not a reality. Furthermore, capital city boarding schools are seeing an increase in mid-week boarding for many reasons, bar geographic isolation.

Whilst working and living in a university residential college myself for ten years, six as the Head and CEO of Trinity UWA, I met over 350 students a year who have previously attended boarding school. Over dinner conversations and corridor catch-ups, I was privy to the myriad reasons why students had chosen to attend a Perth boarding school to complete their high school education before moving into a residential college for their tertiary studies.

There are many reasons why parents choose to send their children to boarding school. Undoubtedly, the main reason for both regional and international families (and indeed some city families) is to provide their child with greater educational opportunities.

For families living in rural communities, their 'local' option may be some distance from home and necessitate several hours of travel each day. International families might seek English language fluency or a different cultural experience for their child as a prerequisite to overseas tertiary education. Sending a son to boarding school is not an easy decision. Leaving aside the financial commitment, it can be a major pull on the heartstrings.

Notwithstanding the obvious challenges for families and boys, there are many benefits to boarding school that can have a lifelong impact on a boy's educational journey. These are some of the benefits of boarding.

  1. Access to a world-class education. Families living regionally and remotely may not have access to a world-class education in their community. At Scotch, daily high-quality tutoring options are also provided for each boy in Boarding.
  2. A choice of curriculum. Students at Scotch College have a large choice of educational pathways, including WACE, the International Baccalaureate or Vocational Education and Training programmes. As a result, students have a greater range of career options to pursue once graduated from the College.
  3. Sporting opportunities. Our boarding house opens onto arguably the best set of sporting fields in WA, if not the country. Our boarders love sport and can access the pool and gym facilities, whilst utilising all of the playing fields. They can join local clubs to play sport on weekends in addition to their involvement in Public Schools Association sport.
  4. Independence. Boarders quickly learn how to complete household chores themselves and grow into independent learners. Our boarding students are responsible for managing their own money and belongings, helping them to mature earlier and become more resourceful.
  5. Friendships and connections. Boarders often form very close friendships and connections with their boarding 'family'. They benefit from shared experiences that are gained whilst undertaking extracurricular offerings. The connections made between boarders is never more apparent than during their graduating dinner when they share heartfelt stories about life in boarding.
  6. Cultural diversity and global perspectives. Boys don't see race or colour; they see opportunities to play and relate. Boarders expand their cultural understanding by living amongst boys from a range of backgrounds and cultures.
  7. Boarding specific wellbeing programmes. We have a team of support staff to meet both the academic and emotional needs of boarders. Our wellbeing staff offers an array of recreation and wellbeing activities to enhance our students' experience in Boarding.
  8. A close-knit community of learners. Living and studying together has many benefits. Helping each other to achieve is just part of Boarding.
  9. Daily routines that teach co-responsibility and discipline. Strict routine and independence from parents foster self-reliance amongst our boarders.
  10. Mentorship. Teachers and older students in a boarding school environment are uniquely supportive of younger students.
  11. Academic Innovation. Boarding is often ahead of the curve in terms of creating, upgrading and integrating innovative education techniques.
  12. An environment of learning outside of the classroom. The immersion in school life offered by Boarding allows a holistic approach to learning that extends well beyond classroom walls.
  13. Culture of collaboration and responsibility. The boarding school environment encourages all children to practice and learn more about how to work well with others.
  14. Cross-curricular. The extra time spent on campus allows for greater involvement in curricula and programmes.

In essence, the Boarding community at Scotch College offers many rewarding and ongoing experiences that undoubtedly add to our College's goal of 'preparing boys for life'.

Dr Alec O'Connell FACE, FAIM, FNAAUC

As Scotch College's 7th Headmaster, I focus on preparing boys for life through focusing on values and cultural alignment.

I am a passionate educator focussed on student and community engagement. My goal as a Headmaster is to graduate future thought leaders who are prepared for life after school.

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