Media release: Aberdeen head swaps jobs with principal, 16,000km away

A FRESH perspective on how to manage a school is one of the expected outcomes of an unique four-month job swap between two college headships, one in Aberdeen, the other in Adelaide, Australia.

In July, Hugh Ouston, head of College at Robert Gordon’s College, swapped jobs with his counterpart, Tim Oughton, head of Scotch College in Adelaide.

Each will ‘walk in the other’s shoes’ as visiting head and share ideas to the benefit of their respective schools. In practical terms, it means Mr Ouston using Mr Oughton’s car, living in his house and even walking his dog, insoding swapping the urban location at Schoolhill for a gum tree-lined campus.

Says Oughton, of his experiences in Aberdeen: “I believe this to be the first time a principal from South Australia has swapped jobs with one overseas.

“Heather and I are having a fantastic time, experiencing the way of life here and look forward to sharing our experiences and improved knowledge when we get home to Scotch College.”

Heather is helping out in the Junior School.

She said: “We have received such a lovely and warm welcome since our arrival. I am teaching every morning in the Junior School, helping out with the new entrants.

“The pupils and staff have been fantastic to work with and learn from. We are both missing our dog, Maggie, but we know she is being dearly looked after by Hugh and his wife, Yvonne.”

Adds Jennifer Montgomery, acting head of Robert Gordon’s College: “We have been delighted to have Tim and Heather here.

“With his wealth of experience and supportive approach, Tim has challenged us to examine many aspects of our current practice and we feel, improved what we offer pupils, parents and staff.”

Meanwhile, from Australia, Mr Ouston said: “Adelaide is beautiful, friendly, warm and welcoming. It’s wonderful to be here as there’s nothing more interesting for a headmaster than finding out how another school operates.

“I have really quite fallen in love with Australia; however, I seem to have brought the Scottish weather with me.”

With Scottish roots in Cullen, Oughton is a former Kiwi and avid sports fan.

Having supported some of the Aberdeen school’s games at Countesswells, he added: “The facilities at Countesswells are outstanding and provide a great base for the Gordon’s community.”

The schools have been swapping students for years. Sinead and Emily have just arrived at Gordon’s from Scotch helping out in the city school, appreciating the Olympic fever in the UK and the sparkling granite in the city buildings.


Notes for editors:

  • Photo and interview opportunities with Mr Tim Oughton are available at Robert Gordon’s College until Thursday 11th October by prior arrangement with Shelley Lee.
  • Australia Channel 7 featured a documentary on the exchange:

  • Scotch College started 90 years ago with 950 pupils and a lot of land onsite.
  • Hugh Ouston’s blog in Scotch College:
  • Robert Gordon’s College educates over 1600 children from the age of four – 18 on their campus on Schoolhill, Aberdeen.

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Contact: Shelley Lee
Phone: 01224646346