15 October 2018

On June 22 2017, the Uniting Church in Australia celebrated a major milestone; its 40th anniversary. Scotch College is one of the many schools and agencies comprising the Uniting Church. It was established when most congregations of the Methodist Church of Australasia, about two thirds of the Presbyterian Church of Australia and almost all the churches of the Congregational Union of Australia came together under what is known as the Basis of the Union.

In the modern educational landscape, it is very easy for a college such as Scotch to simply become a very successful secular college, hitting all the plausible educational and social benchmarks, while at the same time losing sight of its raison d'être. We must never forget that in 1896, Jane Alexander donated 500 pounds in support of establishing a Presbyterian school for boys, something that was seen to be lacking in WA. This very act set in place our Christian foundation and the start of our 120-year journey; a milestone we are celebrating in 2017.

uniting church

The Uniting Church has a strong educational charter. While this is a non-binding document, it is one we visit from time to time to ensure we remain focused on our core work. Education is at the heart of the Church's self-understanding. The Church's mission is to learn and then to teach - and the Charter reflects the Church's historic and ongoing commitment to education in all areas of life. For the Uniting Church, this commitment is demonstrated in its support of its schools, colleges and supporting institutions; and its diverse educational programmes for people of all ages. The 2002 charter outlines eight key areas of focus: a theology of education, a commitment to life-long learning, recognition of our rights and responsibilities, access to quality and equitable education, valuing the diversity of educational expression, valuing teaching and research, the importance of families in education and the provision ofpastoral care and chaplaincy.

At Scotch College, the latter two are at the core of who we are and why we exist. In a complex and challenging world, schools and families simply have to work in harmony and partnership if our boys are to succeed and become functioning citizens after graduation. At times this relationship can be challenging and in some cases disappointing, however in the majority of cases it is the life blood of who we are. Likewise, our pastoral programmes and systems are in place to ensure that each boy can journey through Scotch with dignity and safety. Again, there are times, where for complex reasons, relationships between boys break down and require thoughtful and rationale intervention. This is why we are here, to ensure that every boy is served and thrives through our Christian values and morals; while at the same time being given the life skills that teach resilience and promote balance; avoiding the development of learned helplessness or codependency.

As we commence the last week of Autumn Term, let us all be grateful for being able to live, work and interact in this great community. This term has offered so much to our boys, staff, parents and the wider Scotch community. As I look forward to Winter Term I do so knowing that it too will bring with it great experiences, challenges and excitement.

On Thursday midnight, thanks to the community, and in particular, the College Council, I commence a term of sabbatical with my soul partner Janny. The word sabbatical is defined as a period of leave granted to a leader for the purpose of renewal, study or travel. It is my intention to achieve all three. Such an opportunity is not taken for granted and I thank the community for the many messages of best wishes we have received in person; they mean a lot to both of us.

It would be mentally difficult to take such leave, if one was concerned about the stewardship of the College. In this regard, I have no concerns whatsoever. I would like to personally thank Mr Ledger for accepting my offer to oversee the Scotch community in my absence and I know that his depth of knowledge and profile in our community will ensure Winter Term is one of renewal and continued growth. Thanks also to Mrs Giglia who assumes leadership of the Middle School, thus freeing Mr Ledger to take the role of Acting Headmaster.

When we introduced the three-week midyear break, we did so with our senior boys in mind. Our Year 12s are well and truly entering the business end of their schooling journey. I encourage each and every one of them to use some of the three-week break to simply relax and renew; then hit the books again in the run towards the end of the academic year.

In closing, I would like to wish all boys and their families a safe, relaxing and enjoyable break. I look forward to returning in the Spring Term as a recharged and maybe even as a revamped version of the current Headmaster.

Dr A J O'Connell