Community Perspectives

The recent community survey brought to light the perspectives from different sections of the College community. Two things came through quite clearly: all elements of the education Scotch Oakburn provides were rated highly, with the lowest rating being 3 out of 5; and Teacher Quality was the highest-rated element from all groups in the community. However, there were some trends that differed between constituency groups.

Students rated the Acquisition of Knowledge second-highest behind Teacher Quality. That is, ‘what do I need to know in this subject’? When I saw this my mind reverted to when I was a student and all I wanted to know was whether the information in front of me was examinable or not. An understandable position for students to take but is it the most effective?

Conversely, in analysing ratings from staff, it was clear that this group place more emphasis on the personal aspects of learning, the skills and capacity of the learner that they can take with them through life, more highly than knowledge gain. If you like, staff rate the processes of learning more highly than the end result of knowledge acquisition. Staff also rated student wellbeing more highly than did any other group of respondents.

Parents generally sat between the student and staff ratings and saw the breadth of offering and skill development as being of similar importance to knowledge acquisition. However, this is not the case in schools across the nation. In a recent survey by McCrindle, 71% of educators believe that the most important function of a school is to provide students with life-long skills they can apply in all situations – compared to only 38% of parents. This misalignment between teacher and parent has the potential to cause tension and can undermine the effectiveness of students’ education.

A further disparity within the ratings centred on Round Square. Students rated Round Square (and Leadership which falls under Round Square’s umbrella) more highly than any other group. Does this reflect students’ greater understanding of Round Square and its relevance to their world and learning, compared to other members of the community? This is something that we will have to explore more deeply.

There is no doubt the survey has been an informative exercise and I am expecting that common themes will emerge as we analyse the responses more deeply in the coming weeks.

Andy Müller