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“Education has for its object the formation of character.” So
said Herbert Spencer, the 19th century English philosopher,
and his words are as true today as they were when he
spoke them. According to the trusty Australian Oxford
Dictionary, character is defined as our “collective qualities
or characteristics, especially mental and moral, which
As an educational objective, the development of character
is no simple task and it is closely linked to the influences of
family and society. Sometimes as a College we are expounding
values that seem at odds with the views of others, but I believe
that great schools maintain their currency by holding true to
their core purpose and values; a school’s longevity is the proof
of its on-going relevance and standing in the community.
If you parallel the statement above with the College’s motto,
Ad Superiora Viam Inveniam (‘I will find a way to higher
things’), you will see that at the core of Scotch Oakburn
College is the imperative of strength of character.
Throughout its history, Scotch Oakburn (and its various
iterations) has remained true to its core purpose and values.
Like all thriving institutions, the College has evolved to ensure
that it prepares our young people for their future, not our past!
One of my visions for this College is to ensure that we are
adapting to – and, indeed, setting the bar in – the pastoral,
academic and co-curricular fields so that we remain relevant
to the changing world, but that we do this while focussing
on what is important to achieving a happy life: the development of
So how does Scotch Oakburn help students to develop
Our staff strive to build relationships with students, to impart
knowledge, to provide guidance, and to role model behaviours of
integrity and respect. This is done in classrooms and tutor groups,
on stage and on sporting fields, in music rooms and libraries, at
charity fundraisers and community events, at camps and in the
The academic, pastoral and co-curricular programs work in
synergy to provide life balance, and to nurture, develop and
reinforce the good character that we aspire to instil in our students.
Exposure to different peers, role models, teachers, experiences,
opportunities and challenges serves to develop growth, resilience,
empathy, confidence and character, thereby giving students the
tools to contribute positively to their communities and society,
wherever they be in the world.
While classrooms, learning spaces, teaching styles and the
curriculum have changed, the importance the College places on
the development of the whole person hasn’t faltered. Character is
developed through ‘living out’ the College values that are based
on our Christian heritage and that works in concert with the Round
Square IDEALS. For example, the College’s emphasis on social
justice and service to others are as central to the Uniting Church’s
ethos as they are to our involvement with the worldwide Round
Square community and the many activities that generates.
Additionally, character traits are identified and quantified in the
Round Square Discovery Framework, a set of ‘attitudes’ that
our learners nurture to get the most out of their education. Two
examples of this are the Round Square-led forum on youth mental
health that was organised in conjunction with City Mission earlier
this year, and many IY8 projects that involve the giving of one’s time
for the benefit of those less fortunate.
Throughout each year I have the pleasure of attending reunions
of past students. These Collegians are the proof of how a quality
education has helped to develop them and shape their lives.
The character they display, the camaraderie they share and the
memories they cherish all speak volumes about the impact the
College has had on them.
However, how do we know that the emphasis on character and
the values that underpin it are as relevant today as they were in the
past? We see the evidence of it in the wonderful achievements of
our current and recently graduated students in publications such
as this magazine, as well as on the College website’s ‘100 Stories’.
Past students ‘doing good’ in ways both big and small are the
embodiment of Herbert Spencer’s philosophy and true validation of
Scotch Oakburn College’s commitment to the development of our
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