From the Head

Joe Erasmus – MD Ashton College

Many of us have recently observed how both Public and Independent schools have come under fire for a variety of reasons. In some cases with very legitimate issues – and yes, there are no excuses for fraud, sexual harassment and mismanagement. On the other hand, there are the unjust and unfair interpretations of either political or personal issues.

To a large extent a majority of the situations invariably involve a disgruntled parent who has transgressed their contract with the school. I still honestly believe we are so blessed with good Public and Independent schools, and who, without a doubt, together with their administrative and teaching staff, spend the majority of their time building reputable institutions with the emphasis on quality and stability. There are so many positive accomplishment and achievements at our schools, and sadly this is never breaking news and passes by unnoticed, and often just taken for granted.

WE have often seen poorer schools that are under-resourced but have delivered first class results, while wealthier, resourceful schools have under-performed. It is obvious here that Leadership and Passionate teaching plays a major role.

In any education institution where you are catering for a cross-pollination of cultures, colour and socio-economic groups, one will be challenged. The simple philosophy of ‘you cannot please everybody all of the time’, rings true.

I always find it amazing how quickly a school becomes a target due to the indiscretions of some of the students for incidents that take place over a weekend and out of school time. Suddenly the school becomes the custodian and are expected to find resolutions. The school’s reputation now is at stake and people are quick to name and shame – whether right or wrong. My question is “What role have the parents played’?

Forget the fact that so much time and effort is invested from various sources to create a positive ethos to build and grow an excellent educational environment by dedicated and passionate staff. It is a given fact that at any school, teachers will spend more time with the students (approximately 8 hours) than the students spend with their own families. Ultimately the character is moulded at home and extended at school. No child should arrive at a school and change their personalities to fill a different role.

I together with the staff, believe that students should be Value-Driven as opposed to being Rules-Driven. If Values, Morals and Respect are in place, rules just fall into a daily routine with little thought. Children will mould their lives on what they experience and what they observe. Role models, trust relationships, integrity, loyalty, authenticity – should be dinner-table discussions.

My belief is that we are in for some interesting times. We will be challenged, but if anything, let us all support our schools, no matter where they are and add positive support where we can. It does make a difference and builds character preparing the youth for their journey beyond school.

GOOD LUCK to all the students and schools in our community for the final term of 2017.

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