At Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Sydney (PLC Sydney), well-being isn’t just a feature or a statement, it’s embedded in the structures, philosophies and everyday learning, meaning every girl feels respected, heard and safe.
Principal Dr Paul Burgis said caring for each and every student and staff member, and ensuring the College provides the right environment and resources to foster positive mental and physical health, has always been of the utmost importance.
“The purpose of a good education is to learn to love, rather than learn to be powerful,” Dr Burgis said. “Consequently, educating them on how to love, builds their strength, and helps to develop a conscience.”
PLC Sydney takes great pride in teaching philosophy and theology, to help students develop strong relational connections based on respect and trust.
Excellent teachers and a really warm, embracing community is what our community values the most. That, and the substantial enrichment and extension opportunities we provide here at the College.Dr Paul Burgis
At PLC Sydney, the opportunities are endless, with a myriad of programs, extension subjects, access to world class facilities and external resources, as well as a wide range of extra-curricular offerings.
“One of the most important things we try to create here at the College is a space for you to belong. Whether it’s in the school musical, or an exchange program, or the tennis team, or the science or visual arts hubs - we celebrate every girl’s passion and try to provide the optimum environment for her to excel.
“We’ve got students who will end up being selected for State or Australian teams, which we’ll celebrate. But we also celebrate the girls who are coming last in the tennis tournament and are just having a go and having fun.”
This culture of magnanimity pulses through the school - every student and every success is celebrated, regardless of the status or the outcome.
At PLC Sydney, every student is cared for by their Morning Connection Coach. Similar to a homeroom teacher, their coach is their constant throughout the year, and is supported by the chaplain, counsellors and the school’s well-being team.
“Every teacher is a well-being teacher, but more often than not, we find that the girls look to their peers for support first and foremost. I am immensely proud of the way our girls treat each other, and recognise when their fellow students need support. It’s a tone that is very evident throughout the school.”
The school also has a PLC Sydney Futures Program, which starts in Year 5 by exploring what activities a child likes, and matching it with types of careers that could interest them. This is continued through to Year 12 as the child develops and extends their passions and interests.
The Junior School are also proud participants in the URstrong program that empowers students with the skills, language and self-confidence to develop healthy friendships.
While all students benefit from the pastoral care support within the school, boarders at PLC Sydney receive extra support, to ensure their time away from home is safe and comfortable, while allowing them to thrive and grow.
The boarding staff work closely with the College’s well-being team to ensure all boarders' welfare needs are met, including support and assistance through the week with homework sessions in the afternoon, as well as access to the Deputy Principal, Heads of Year, College Chaplains, the School Counsellors and College Nurse.
There is a strong ethos within the school to use every opportunity, the good and the bad, for learning and growth. This was particularly evident after the first COVID-19 learning from home period and some students returned to face-to-face learning and other students remained at home. Teachers were catering for students both at home and those physically at school.
“We took decisive actions to ensure cameras were in every classroom and that we communicated daily with our families to keep them informed of changes and updates. The feedback we received from families was they felt supported and secure,” Dr Burgis said.
“We are enabling our girls to be the best human they can be. We’re teaching them the skills and lessons they need, not for pretence, but to honestly make a great contribution to the world.”
At the end of the day, we’re focussed on making sure we develop the whole child and their conscience.Dr Paul Burgis
Dr Paul Burgis is the current Principal of the Presbyterian Ladies College, Sydney. Paul is married and has three daughters and lives in Drummoyne, Sydney. In his leisure time he enjoys reading history, theology, philosophy and poetry, supporting the Cronulla Sharks and wild bird photography. He worships with his family at Drummoyne Presbyterian Church.