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The Age of Empowerment


1 November 2019

The Age of Empowerment

The Age of Empowerment

This week several staff have attended the final workshop program for 2019 on Student Agency. This is a three-year project for the College working with Dr Charles Leadbetter from the UK, and AISSA our regulatory body for independent schools in the State.

One of the outcomes will be the publication of a chapter in a research text on this topic accounting for the Scotch journey. However, the outcomes for the project will be far more wide reaching for our students and the way in which we deliver our curriculum and co curriculum into the future.

Student Agency is about moving students along the spectrum of compliance, engagement to empowerment. The ability for students to determine their learning needs and create learning opportunities through co creation with their teachers, peers and other expert resources will be a game changer in some programs of the College. The exponential growth we will see in individualised learning is at once exciting and challenging. 

Students at Scotch have voice in their learning, but this implies that most of the time the opportunity to explore learning or take action is determined by either teacher led creation of opportunity or by rigid frameworks. Many students feel comfortable being able to contribute in this way. 

Yet we all know that in the development of humanics (the exploration of the value-add of the human qualities to technology) the importance of agency will bring about success for individuals. As daunting as this concept may appear there are numerous ways to create an environment which empowers students.

The evidence base we are establishing and to highlight that Scotch students are indeed being provided with opportunities to determine their learning needs or create learning for others is growing. 

We will continue to research this area over the next two years and as part of the next Strategic Plan we will fully operationalise the actions which we need to have in place for students to have agency. 

The three examples that follow though seemingly rudimentary contain a wealth of implications for our educational offering.


Hugh Scaffidi-Muta

Hugh Scaffidi-Muta (12Go) decided in Year 9 that he would do Stage 2 SACE twice! He then approached Ms Hanel and mapped out his plans for his SACE program over three years. This has involved him studying at University and completing a whopping 800 credits for his SACE when only 200 are required. 

He completed 7 stage 2 courses, two University subjects and a Certificate III in Fitness over 2018 and 2019 to gain an ATAR. Students only require 4½ subjects. Here is a student who determined what he would like to learn about, how he would like to learn and challenged existing systems in order to accommodate his needs. 


Lalla Nugent and Sam Subramanian

Lalla Nugent (12Do) and Sam Subramanian (12St) our College Captains reflected in the final assembly address the many qualities they have grown during their time at Scotch (the transcripts are available here - Lalla's Speech | Sam's Speech). I have witnessed first-hand their leadership of the College student body - not relying on adults to give them the answers rather identifying areas they knew needed attention. For example, to run a campus forum on three occasions this year from which came actions to address student needs will no doubt continue into the future and inform our development of culture.


Kate McBride

Finally, former Scotchie, Kate McBride (’15) has been campaigning to bring about change in the Murray River system. Kate appeared on the ABC Q&A this week to great acclaim for her forthright demeanour, astute arguments and being a voice for the youth of Australia. Kate as an OC is showing our students just how powerful agency can be to support advocacy and bring about positive and powerful change.


Student agency will be a feature of our teaching and learning framework for many years to come. I am proud to be at a school where students and teachers collaborate and co create their learning opportunities. Independent and individualised learning programs will define learning this century. We will endeavour to develop a sophisticated approach in our offering and continue to innovate and create dynamic learning for our students. 

Have a great weekend. 




WATCH: Dr Newton discusses how we innovate as a school, highlighting the recent Education Committee Think Tank Eve