St Peter's Boys Prep: Preparing boys to be able to adapt to the fast paced change that is occurring in the information age

  • July 07, 2017 | Rob Macaulay: Headmaster

I am writing this article as I fly between Washington and Johannesburg, having attended the International Boys’ School Coalition annual conference. This year’s conference took place in Baltimore.  Six hundred delegates from schools in countries ranging geographically from New Zealand to Peru gathered to discuss topics of interest in boys’ education.  To my mind, this conference is one of the most enlightening of those on offer since it is supported by ongoing action research which is shared internationally. This research guides the discussion and the keynote speakers are chosen according to the themes.


A major theme of this year’s conference was the need for schools to prepare boys to be able to adapt to the fast paced change that is occurring in the information age.  This requires that a strong moral compass be provided as well as the skills of collaboration, innovation and ability to evaluate and use technology, with a strong emphasis on creativity. 

A robot-driven prototype car

Consider the following points:


With the advent of satellite-guided and robot-driven vehicles, the transport industry, which includes deliveries, taxi services, long haul drivers and all the associated support services, is likely to become totally automated within our boys’ lifetimes. Many of the traditional opportunities for employment in these areas will cease to exist. This will mean that a significant part of our future population will need to create alternative sources of income.  They will need to become producers rather than consumers in societal dynamics.

With the development of mobile-driven communication devices, it will not be long until a cheap translator, which fits in one’s ear will allow us to communicate with any number of different language speakers simultaneously in real time.


If land was the resource that dictated power in the agricultural age and raw materials did the same in the industrial age, the control of data is the commodity of the future.  At any time our boys’ location and their preference in anything from take away food to reading material will be analysed, opening up opportunities for a supplier to advertise and deliver commodities using drone technology.

In one of the sessions, we shared experiences with Heads of traditional, faith-based schools and discovered that the international trend is a growing demand for us to provide a strong faith and traditional foundation for our boys to have the required firm base from which to explore opportunities into the future. These schools, which included England’s Harrow, Australia’s Scots College and Shore as well as America’s St Paul’s Boys School are finding that, while certain traditions have been adapted, the grounding of their education in Faith and regular habits is creating the foundation for the boys to become, what one school identifies as “…good men at 40.” 


I return from the conference with a number of good contacts who will provide the opportunity for collaboration with schools around the world as well with the knowledge that, while we are right up there with the best in the world, there are a number of areas in which we, at St Peter’s Boys Prep can continue on our path of continuous improvement.  I will be sharing ideas with the staff in general as well as with specific interest groups in the weeks ahead.


I thank the Council for this excellent opportunity for professional development and look forward to adding to the St Peter’s community of learning as a result of my participation in this years IBSC Conference.