Quickly adapting to a new normal at PAC

Author: Ross Scrymgeour, Director of Advancement.

As we edge toward the final weeks of Term two, 2020, we reflect on the successful transitional changes to College life, brought forth from the global pandemic, COVID-19 and the many restrictions imposed on the College and our community.
PAC Director of Advancement, Ross Scrymgeour, recently wrote about our successful adjustment to change, in the Stock Journal, before returning to his home in New Zealand, following the end of his tenure with PAC.

After an extended three-week term break at the end of Term one and two weeks of Remote Learning in response to the COVID-19 restrictions at the commencement of Term two, Prince Alfred College, Headmaster, Bradley Fenner, made the following observation. ‘Everything appears to be operating smoothly. We have appreciated the way that both students and staff have approached the resumption of classes and other programs. Whilst still operating under some restrictions, we are closely monitoring the progressive easing of these restrictions, as they are interpreted within the school setting. Our attendance rates remain very high at 96 to 97%. With around 20 interstate boarders, most have now completed their quarantine period and are back in class. The design of our new Boarding House has enabled boys to undertake quarantine with us, if they wished to do so.’

Mr Fenner went on to say, ‘our period of remote learning was a worthwhile and positive experience in a number of respects. Whilst I think everyone was happy to resume regular classes, there were some useful lessons learnt through the remote learning period. It has been interesting hearing comments from a number of the boys that they felt their independence and ownership of their learning increased through this experience. In both the Preparatory and Secondary Schools, we are now reviewing the remote learning period to identify the lessons learnt from this and also possible applications for the future.’

Secondary School Head, Dr John Kinniburgh added, ‘it has been fantastic to see the energy and enthusiasm of the boys in the Secondary School since their return to the College on Monday 4 May 2020. I have been very impressed by the way boys have re-engaged with their learning and I know my colleagues have also been delighted with the return to face to face teaching. It has also been fantastic to see Co-Curricular sports training return and whilst this continues to occur in a modified form, the engagement of the boys has been very positive.’

Head of Boarding, Zac Savage reported that the Boarders are enjoying the routines and rhythms of boarding life. Pleasingly, our boys continue to make the most of the many opportunities available to them at the College. These have included; access to exercise facilities to aid physical and mental health, on-site activities programs such as movie nights, Friday Night Tech and Open Mic night, which allow the boys to develop new skills and build positive relationships. Structured homework support from boarding and academic staff has also been well received – this is essential in assisting the boys after a period of remote learning. Off-site activities such as hiking and golf which allow boys to be active in the broader community and participation in College sport training session, whilst following Government guidelines. The Boarding house is once again full, with 147 resident students.

After speaking with a number of students, Preparatory School Head, John Stewart reflected that, ‘the boys clearly missed seeing their friends. We cannot downplay the importance of the social connections the boys have at school with both their friends and their teachers.’

One Preparatory student commented, ‘I learnt that I can do more schoolwork on my own. I was proud because I worked hard and got through the schoolwork. I especially liked that I got used to online learning and it was not too hard!’ And then went on to add, ‘I missed that I couldn’t see my friends each day though!’

As we begin to incorporate the terminology and actions (like ‘social distancing’) essential to keeping each other safe from the COVID-19 virus, a new ‘normal’ way of life is quickly developing in all areas of College and Boarding life at PAC.

Ross Scrymgeour
Director of Advancement