Two of state’s leading independent schools, All Saints’ College and The Scots School, have put aside their longstanding rivalry in favour of a merger.
All Saints’ was on the market for more than a year before The Scots School’s parent body emerged as the winning bidder.
The news came as a surprise to observers as the Bathurst-based co-ed boarding schools have historically played up their differences and are administered by different churches.
The Scots School is owned by the Presbyterian Church while All Saints’ was run by the Anglican Diocese of Bathurst until its recent purchase by the Presbyterian Church of NSW.
The All Saints’ sale was precipitated by the Diocese’s financial difficulties and the proceeds will go toward retiring debt.
Anglican Bishop of Bathurst Ian Palmer welcomed the sale, saying that it is in the best interests of the All Saints’ community. “It will set the college on a pathway that will enhance its status as the leading educational institution in the Central West in a way that the diocese does not have the resources to do.”
The schools announced their new partnership on August 29 of this year but intend to remain separate entities for the immediate future with plans to eventually integrate, possibly as soon as 2019.
All Saints’ Head of College, Steven O’Connor was upbeat about the school’s prospects under its new regime.
“Today’s announcement is the commencement of a bright new future for the college,” Mr O’Connor said. “It represents the best possible outcome for all stakeholders, and will see minimal changes to the day-to-day operations of the college.”
Locals and alumni have reacted quite positively to the joint venture. Facebook comments on the Western Advocate’s report of the merger ranged from enthusiasm for a larger school in the area: “a fantastic opportunity for two great schools to become a powerhouse” and “a great move. Will make a great sized school with heaps of opportunities for the students” to speculation about how it will impact the local rugby union competition: “Well that is going to make for an interesting trophy season in 2019.”
These sentiments were echoed by The Scots School Headmaster David Gates who told the Western Advocate that there is much to look forward to in the alliance.
“It’s all about maximising the quality facilities we have across the two schools,” Mr Gates said. “It’s a chance to enhance the academic and co-curricular programs and the strengths of both schools will be even greater.”
Mr O’Connor agreed, predicting an upsurge in student numbers coming up to the 2019 school year. “If we maintain our current enrolments until the start of 2019 we will start the new school with around 750 kids which is a good size school,” he said.
“I would anticipate in five years’ time those numbers could grow from 750 to 900 or even 1000. I’m very optimistic about what this could mean five years down the track.”
Some of the growth will be spurred by a likely fee reduction to bring All Saints’ into line with Scots, which reduced its fees by 30 per cent this year.
“I anticipate the two schools next year would have the same fee structure,” Mr O’Connor said. “I understand Scots are very pleased with their new fee structure and they are the new owners so they will ultimately determine that.”
But while there’s strength in numbers, the larger aim is to combine their resources for a sustainable future focused on excellence, Mr Gates said.
“We believe the merger of two respected schools in Bathurst will provide students with a wider choice of subjects and co-curricular opportunities at every level of their education and will provide students of both schools with enhanced opportunities to develop their interests and character.”
All Saints’ College to Become a Fully Independent Anglican School — Anglican Diocese of Bathurst website
One school and one future — Murray Nichols, Western Advocate, August 30, 2017
Presbyterian Church of NSW buys All Saints’ College — Announcement to The Scots School community, The Scots School website, August 30, 2017