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Teaching & Learning Foundations


At Scotch we view education to be the judging and nurturing of conditions best suited to develop the ongoing growth of the innate and acquired potential of each individual to the greater social good.

To such end, we premise all aspects of our teaching and learning on the following foundational principle and foundational question.

  • Foundational Teaching and Learning Principle and Question
    • Foundational Principle: The inherent value of each individual
    • Foundational Question: How did the world evolve to be as it is and how might it be made to evolve for the greater good?

Academic Department Foundational Statements

Relational Learning

All Scotch programmes are premised on the fact that boys are relational learners, and, indeed, that ‘relationship is the very medium through which successful teaching and learning occurs’ (Reichert and Hawley, 2013). Through an extensive and seminal research programme conducted in collaboration with the International Boys’ Schools Coalition (IBSC), Michael Reichert and Richard Hawley identified three fundamental elements for boys’ learning:

  • boys are relational learners and ‘learn’ their teachers before they learn their subject;
  • boys elicit the teaching they need, and their changing behaviours are signals of their learning need; and,
  • the most effective lessons for boys have a ‘transitive’ dimension that stimulates interest and imagination; e.g., story, humour, activity, discussion, games.


In further research with the IBSC, focussing on the relational dimension of boys’ learning, Reichert and Hawley identified the characteristics of outstanding teachers of boys along with the ‘relational gestures’ that they employ. These gestures include:

  • reaching out, to meet the particular needs of individual boys;
  • demonstration of subject mastery;
  • the maintenance of high standards and expectations of boys’ conduct and work quality;
  • responding to boys’ personal interests or talents;
  • sharing common interests with boys; and,
  • accommodating a measure of opposition from boys.


In 2015, the School hosted two visits from Dr Michael Reichert (Executive Director, Centre for the Study of Boys’ and Girls’ Lives, and research advisor for the International Boys’ Schools Coalition). Dr Reichert immersed himself in the life of the School, conducting focus groups with boys, staff and parents, observing classes and giving presentations. At the conclusion of his visits Dr Reichert provided advice on suitable next steps for improving the quality of learning relationships across the School.

Since 2015 the School has taken a deliberate approach to improving the relational craft of all teachers. To this end we have:

  • incorporated a relational teaching and learning focus in staff professional development and staff induction activities;
  • reflected carefully on feedback from boys in class surveys on the quality of relational teaching practices;
  • added relational learning as a standing item for departmental meeting agendas;
  • embedded a relational teaching and learning focus in recruitment practices; and,
  • partnered with Michael Reichert and the Crescent School in Toronto, Canada, in the development of a ‘Relational Judgement Test’ for teachers.


Reichert, M. & Hawley, R. (2013). Relationships play primary role in boys’ learning. Phi Delta Kappan, 94 (8), 49 – 53.