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In 2021 teachers across New South Wales commenced Term 3 through a screen, adapting their schedule – almost instantaneously – to an online environment.

Scots’ teachers, from the Preparatory and Senior Schools, share their challenges and tips, that have enabled them to develop as home-based learning educators.

What opportunities has home-based learning provided?

It forces us to think outside our comfort zone and gives us space to be more creative with our lessons. I think, by necessity, we make our lessons more relevant to the child’s real world environment which is perfect in a science context.” Mrs Peta Austin, Head of Science

“Increased collaboration and collegiality with staff. A hallmark for me of Scots staff is that when things are tough, everyone comes together. Another opportunity has been the need to refine and reflect on my teaching practice in a new paradigm.” Mr Joel Brown, Year 3 Teacher 

“[This has been] an opportunity to get to know parents as they are helping at home. They are often close by when you are teaching through Zoom and it is a lovely way to get to know them. Our team is working so well together, and it amazes me what we have achieved in a short amount of time. This experience has made me appreciate my wonderful grade partners and our coordinator who is working so hard.” Ms Jane Roche, Year 1 Teacher

What challenges have you faced with home-based learning?

“Firstly, balancing screen-time for both [the] boys and myself has been the biggest challenge I have faced – looking for opportunities to ‘disconnect’ but keep learning authentic and achievable. Secondly, I have found that teaching through a screen can take away a lot of the personal engagement and connection that is so integral in a ‘face to face’ classroom environment. Losing that, and still providing interactivity and keeping boys engaged across a full day of learning, has been a challenge. Lastly, providing feedback that would usually be anecdotal or immediate, now takes considerably longer …” Mr Joel Brown, Year 3 Teacher 

“Our role as teacher is to ensure that a boy’s social, physical, emotional, spiritual and academic needs are cared for. This year, when the boys have to keep to their own households much more than last year, they are really missing the face-to-face interactions with their friends and the emotional and social connection that they love about school. Trying to find solutions to meet those needs has been a challenge.” Ms Elisabeth Smith, Year 2 Coordinator and Teacher

How has Scots supported you in this time? 

“Scots has offered me clear, consistent, regular communication. In the midst of swirling media headlines, endless press conferences and streams of social media updates, I have found this to be incredibly supportive. They have actively sought feedback from staff about how the College can provide a safer workplace and ensured that staff are aware of support services available to them.” Mr Joel Brown, Year 3 Teacher 

“Colleagues have been a massive support, providing tips and tricks of the trade (Zoom and Schoolbox).” Ms Cecilia Oppenheimer, English and Agriculture Teacher

“Scots has been amazing. I believe that the school is providing the best home-based learning package for the boys. It has been so much easier teaching during this lockdown [compared to] our stint last year, as everything is on Schoolbox for the teachers (and the parents and carers). The support from the school leaders and the Information Communication Technology department has been phenomenal. We are very lucky teachers!” Ms Jane Roche, Year 1 Teacher

“From the virtual coffee hour to the Strava running club, staff continue to reach out to and support each other, share positive news stories and everyday challenges. Whether it be a weekly Zoom catch-up or a WhatsApp group, maintaining those links has been excellent.” Mr Scott Siekierka, Year 9 Coordinator and Assistant Housemaster of Royle

Read more on how Scots teachers give tips to parents to stay motivated during home-based learning.

The Scots College is a proud member of the following associations.

The Presbyterian Church (New South Wales) Property Trust T/A The Scots College, Sydney Australia
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William Elder


Mr Alan Elder was born in Scotland and migrated to Australia with his parents at a young age. He attended The Scots College for all his schooling, graduating in 1944. He played 1st XI Cricket and was a member of the College Cadet Unit. After leaving school Mr Elder studied accountancy and retained a life-long love of the College, especially the Pipes and Drums. Mr Elder never married, however the significant bequest he left will allow his Scots family to remember him through the Lang Walker Business Centre.