Aitchison College, Lahore.
January 13, 2018

A New Year comes with great anticipation –update January 2018

Academics

Overall, Half Yearly results have been very pleasing. A healthy proportion of boys achieved strong grades. This has aligned with excellent attendance and class engagement. I commend our teachers, who continue to upgrade skills and work intelligently as departments. The very high percentage of overall A* A & B grades in Senior School (70%) provides a useful snapshot as a type ‘end of the road’ scenario. Of course, Cambridge in H1 and H2 does not provide an A* grade in their system, only A. Details of this report can be accessed via our secure portals.

There is no doubt that the introduction of AS Level has brought H1 to reality a lot sooner. The feedback from universities has also validated this move that has added a much needed external weight to predicted grades. The Vice Principal, Dr. Andrew Treharne, will be overseeing decisions on predicted grades with the Headmistress and Heads of Department.

Elsewhere across the College, academic results in Prep and Junior School are extremely impressive –as they should be! The summary of these will be uploaded to portals in the next week. I ask you to remember it is very early days for our young ones, and I must caution that we are seeking enthusiasm and engagement as much as we are grades at this point in their lives. To this end, embedding strong skills and core subject knowledge while encouraging imagination and enjoyment is a very subtle balance. Too much of one undercuts the other. All are essential. The Headmistress of Junior School and Headmaster of Prep School are committed to teacher development and updating pedagogical skills that will ensure this ‘mix’ increasingly dictates how we approach teaching and assessment.

On the matter of academics, I must say that there is much that Aitchison does not broadcast in its success stories. By March, we will have our full university admission results and these will be, again, very impressive. The operation of the expanded Admissions Departments has been very successful. The only area that continues to concern me is the basis on which admissions to medical colleges is determined.

Despite the unresolved but what I hope is only a temporary and unfortunate predicament for international qualifications in regard to the difficulty of admission to public medical colleges in particular, as well as the IBCC reluctance to shift ground on parity, our boys still find a way through to impressive private options. Without breaking away from our tradition of modesty and quietly going about things, it may interest parents to know that 20 boys from last year gained entrance to private medical colleges in Pakistan (4 to Agha Khan, 7 to Combined Military Hospital, 7 to Lahore Medical and Dental College, 1 to Fatima Memorial College, and 1 to Rashid Latif Medical College). Not merely is this personally impressive, I am proud that our boys will be contributing and giving back to society, which satisfies the strong theme of Aitchison’s educational focus.  I have been making a consistent case for over a year that it is time to accept that A Levels, and all international curriculum, should at least be ‘equal’ to FSC in the determination of places and that there should be an overhaul of the MCAT to make it generically suitable and more able to identify those who are best suited to medicine. Aitchison will continue to press.

Planning Computers & Robotics

We are all aware of humanity’s advance toward an AI world, which is a ‘fast moving feast’. Indeed, we have just witnessed our first Staff v Students debate on this very topic: “Is AI good?” In a close debate the Staff (opposition) won the day. There will be more debates when ACOBA takes on the seniors as well! Now returning to my point, the current school computer program/offering is more than adequate, but, for example, what E2 is doing now, K4 will most likely be doing in two years, and so on. The pace and uptake in this area of education is specialized and fast, and we seek to be better. In this regard, we are close to introducing programming and robotics in Prep and Senior School, although we do have a club that has been in operation for some time. I can attest to this fact as a student made ‘creature’ walked into my office holding a water bottle.

Apropos of this, we received good news that Nosher Ali Khan (Kelly House) received first prize in the Pakistan Innovation Foundation STEM School after an extremely selective process. This was a 9 day residential campus, and students got the chance to investigate synthetic biology robotics, physic and aeronautics. Nosher chose artificial intelligence and created a ‘GenAI’ in-game problem solver. LUMS University has kindly offered to partner us in this development. As I look into the future, I see Science and Robotics as a coordinated faculty. There is little doubt that many of our boys are ready to engage in this style of education that pushes beyond the core curriculum in much the same way as the Meta-Cognition classes do.

Walter Robinson Cross Country – A time to celebrate young and old.

What an event. Bringing old boys and students together in a 9km race, the new race record was again set by LJ boy Sajid Ali Khan –his eighth straight cross country victory. This time he ran under 36 minutes. No event in the school has the capacity to bring the generations together in spirit. Pictures tell the story.

 

Ali Sajad Khan (LJ) heading to the finish line.

Old Boy, Mr. Jalal Ahsan enjoys the union of
ages.

 

Nosher Ali Khan (Kelly) runs a brave second.

Principal and Chief Guest, Mr. Ashiq Qureshi.

 

Agha Murtaza Ali (over 40 category)

Faqir Syed Ali Akbar (under 40 category)

 

Building Masterplans

Final architectural drawings for the new gymnasium are about to be assessed by the Board Sports Committee. Plans for a synthetic hockey pitch are well underway, as is our planning to heat one of the swimming pools. All these will be funded via donation. These things take time to formulate and we are committed to making sure that we get the best outcome for Aitchison.

Archives

Our Archives Centre has drawn great acclamation from past students, academics, and students. This week, we were privileged to receive the hockey shirt worn by the great Syed Mohammad Jafar at either the 1932 or 1936 Berlin Olympics. We are in the process of confirming this and pay special thanks to Mr. Mehdi Moshin for his very generous, thoughtful and deeply appreciated gift.

Shortly, we will officially open the Arif Hussain Common Room in Saigol House. This room will honour what we believe is our only Olympic track and field representative: a reminder for boys of the importance of sport and determination. I thank Omer Saeed for spearheading his year group’s kind donation to upgrade the Common Room.

This term, Archives will be developing the 1950-1970 collection and I encourage old boys to loan or donate memorabilia and/or letters, etc. to this cause, knowing that our Archives is accountable and secure.

Sport

This term is very much the cross country term. The Walter Robinson Cup will be watched by all students on January 11, and many old boys will be running, too. House cross country will be added this in age groups. The U 16 cricket squad flies to Abu Dhabi for a series of matches in late January, and the Cricket IST XI will hopefully obtain visas for a match against Yadavindra Public School and anniversary celebrations in February. Our most recent whole-school assembly celebrated our 1st Hockey team on reaching the final of the Lahore Inter-School Hockey Championship. This is a good example of the revitalization in school hockey. I am delighted to see so many Prep boys enjoying this game also.

Leave from School

It is a condition of entry to the College that families observe calendar dates. Boys should not be removed for ad hoc holidays or other occasions while school is in operation, unless it is for extreme reasons or unavoidable situations. Teachers will not provide extra classes for those who do not attend and nor can we be responsible for academic results when boys miss large ‘chunks’ of school. Boys whose attendance falls below 90% without permission will have their places reviewed. Please make sure that your son arrives back on Day 1 of each term and that he maximizes his time at school. There is no substitute for school.

An Aitchison Education

Aitchison is much more than a school for academics. Our mission is to nurture and encourage good character, intelligence, a curiosity about the world, interests beyond standard syllabus, and, of course, physical fitness. We seek a balance that most other schools ignore and which every nation needs in order to build its future on solid foundations. We celebrate broadly and recognize that young men come in all guises, and often with surprises! We do not consider school as an end in itself, but a beginning to a journey in which character and determination play the greatest parts. Nearly all our senior boys will go on to enjoy the fruits of outstanding universities –this is simply a taken. It is rather what they do with that opportunity that really counts and their schooling should have played a major role. This is why we educate the way we do, and insist upon the etiquettes and rules applied equally to each and every boy regardless of background or ability.  Honesty and integrity.  

I wish all boys and their families a Happy New year, and every success with their studies, sports and activities. We are here to help in every way we can.

 

Warm wishes,



Michael Thomson M.A., Dip. Ed., M.A.C.E

Principal