Meet our Boarding Admissions Officer Catriona Nixon

After teaching at country schools, living in the regions and experiencing her children go through boarding school, not many know the ins and outs of boarding like Catriona Nixon. The latest addition to our Admissions team, Catriona is at hand to answer any questions you have about life at Scotch and ease your transition into Boarding. Learn more about Catriona as she shares her top tips for choosing the right school.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm a qualified teacher and have worked at various schools, from London to Bruce Rock. I previously lived in Carnarvon for 15 years where I worked closely with the Indigenous community and later held the role of Deputy Principal. Meanwhile, my children Benjamin and Olivia boarded in Perth – Benjamin at Scotch College.

Now back in Perth with lived experiences of the country and boarding, I'm pleased to help families from rural WA and abroad to seamlessly transition into our boarding community.

Having been through the school selection process with your son Ben (OSC 2021) and daughter Olivia, how did you choose the right school for your family?

Being a teacher gives you a deeper insight into education. However, I had a completely different lens when looking for a boarding school.

When visiting Scotch, I loved the Playing Fields. Ben loves the outdoors and kicking a ball, so ensuring he had adequate open spaces was important to us. Strong pastoral care was also a priority. Boarding school is your kids' home away from home, so it's critical to find a community-orientated environment with like-minded people. However, it's not only the kids that make friends. Your family become part of the community, too. We wanted to find a community that was the right fit for our whole family.

When looking at schools, we laid out all the opportunities and Co-Curricular activities offered. With our kids part of the discussion, we wanted to choose a school with programmes that would inspire and challenge them. No two kids are the same, so finding a school that enables them to try new things was high on our checklist.

What are the benefits of boarding compared to going to a local country school?

Many schools in Perth have specialised teachers and departments, which country schools can sometimes lack.

Boarding also builds resilience and independence. At the time, it is tough – both for the kids and parents. I often say to parents that it's harder being the parent, because your kids are having a great time and experiencing new things, while you're at home without them. However, I think most parents wouldn't have it any other way. A quality education outweighs the other sacrifices you make.

What are your top tips for boarding families trying to choose the right school?

Make sure to visit the top schools you're interested in. Schools are most importantly about the children and the staff in them, so talk to staff along the way and see how students interact with their peers and teachers.

For boarding families, your child will spend lots of time in the boarding house, so visit in person and ask lots of questions to make sure it's the right space for them. Finding a community that fits your family is important. Reach out to other families and staff to get a feel for it. A great way to meet our community at a town near you is at our Scotch on the Road events. I also highly recommend getting to know the house parents – they'll be the ones you might call at 7am when your son's forgotten his uniform!

If you're a country family visiting Perth, come along to our Friday morning Marching or Public Schools Association (PSA) Sport matches on Saturday and meet our community. During Ben's time in Boarding, we met so many families standing on the sidelines at PSA Sport matches.

For families interested in Scotch, what's the next step and how can you help simplify the transition to boarding?

I know that visiting schools in person isn't always easy for country families, so feel free to call me with any questions you might have. Having been through the process of choosing a boarding school – I've been in your exact shoes before! When you can travel to Perth, we'll work around your schedule to find the right time for you to visit us on campus.

Interested in Boarding at Scotch? Call or email Catriona Nixon to learn more about our unique boarding experience or book a tour.