The Scots College helps students - and staff - reach their potential.
The Scots College in Bellevue Hill enjoys a rich history, stretching back 120 years, as an independent boarding and day school for boys. It takes equal pride in its employment of teachers, executives and support staff. Today, the college enrols nearly 1900 boys from pre-school to year 12 across five campuses and employs 365 staff - including 315 face-to-face teachers. About half of them are women.
Peter Moulds, Scots' director of curriculum and staffing, says the college hires people who are passionate about education. "I see a teaching job at Scots as more of a calling to come to this place," he says. "We are a Presbyterian college and have a strong Christian ethos."
One advantage of working at Scots, Mr Moulds says, is its strong culture of staff development and promotion of leadership opportunities. "We encourage staff to think and develop themselves, and take on a research agenda, to grow intellectually," he says.
For example, Carleen Arnold, senior co-ordinator for learning enrichment in learning support, is one of 10 Scots' teachers earmarked as "future leaders" who are embarking on a masters of education in education management and leadership, in conjunction with the University of Sydney. The 10 include teachers from both the junior and the senior school. Six are women.
"It was quite an honour to be selected," Ms Arnold says. "We do some lectures on Monday or Friday evenings and we have done some blocks in the holidays. We can also contact our main lecturer whenever necessary and get time off from our teaching commitments when we need to. It's no problem. As a whole, the college is very supportive of all staff doing further learning."
Employees are also encouraged to have mentors and coaches off campus and to publish their work and speak at conferences. In addition to intellectual development, the college supports the staff's health and wellbeing, offering personal training sessions at the college gym three afternoons a week and six external counselling sessions every year.
Working at Scots also enables staff to travel. They accompany students on various overseas study tours, as well as doing charity work in developing countries and going to the school's outdoor education centre. James Bowles, a science teacher and house master, will accompany year 7 and year 8 boys on a visit to NASA in the US next year. He has already travelled with others to an international physics competition in South Africa and summer schools in Oxford.
"What I love about the school is their 'Why not?' approach to learning," Mr Bowles says. "It encourages the boys and the teachers to think creatively in everything that happens at the school. In science, we were studying forces, so I took a group of boys on a Harbour Bridge climb to illustrate the different forces at work - all just part of the 'Why not?' approach."
Next week, Mr Bowles is heading to the college's outdoor education campus, Glengarry, located in Kangaroo Valley, 250 kilometres south of Sydney. This is where year 9 boys take part in a residential program over two semesters, studying and being challenged by outdoor education programs that take them out of their comfort zones. "It's boy heaven," Mr Bowles says.
Scots provides a very caring environment in which to work, Ms Arnold says. "It's a big school and I don't know everyone really well, but the staff are all quite friendly and the college has a warm feel to it."
Part-time and flexible working hours are also possible, especially after women return from maternity leave. "I had to take some time off for illness and they were very accommodating and let me have several weeks off," she says.
Most employees work only during term time and enjoy the same holidays as the students, although many have marking commitments and personal development programs to attend to during this time. Mr Bowles says Scots builds the capacity of younger teachers and staff through an innovative program of staff team leadership. "We have a team of house masters for example, which is a very interesting way to encourage your middle management," he says.
The college has a culture of recognising staff who go above and beyond their job descriptions in various ways, says Mr Moulds