Miss Patricia Dyson

Miss Patricia Dyson 1978 - 1985

The College’s seventh Principal was Miss Patricia Dyson, an able administrator who continued to honour many of the principles of the Whitlam years and who also prepared the College for a period of unparalleled physical growth.

Patricia Helen Dyson (b.1940) was born in Sydney and went to Pymble Ladies’ College. She received her BA and DipEd from the University of Sydney and her MA from Macquarie University. Although her academic achievements were in Mathematics, she received her University Blue in Hockey and was a NSW women’s ski champion and captain of the NSW women’s’ ski team. She held senior positions as a mathematics teacher in several state schools and lectured in the Education Faculty at the University of Sydney before coming to PLC Sydney in the role of Principal.

Spirituality was important to Miss Dyson, as she explained in her Speech Day address in 1979: “Christian philosophy must be the basis of a sound education and of the development of character; religious faith is developed through study, worship and personal example”. 1

Academic excellence was also emphasised during her period as Principal. “I believe in competition,” she said, “so we have examinations every term, with marks and places in the year”.2 Indeed, in the 1983 HSC examinations, 15% of the College’s candidates placed in the top 5% of the State and over 25% were in the top 10%.3

Lastly, Miss Dyson believed in offering other areas, not only academic, where pupils could achieve. Consequently, activities such as sports, drama, music, the Pet Show, charity work, public speaking were maintained and in some instances extended. Work experience was introduced in the Senior School while class violin, trumpet and clarinet lessons were begun in the Junior School. 

When the Uniting Church was formed in 1977, not only did Presbyterian congregations vote to join the new denomination or to remain Presbyterian, but the schools were also “re-aligned”. Consequently, our former “daughter” school, PLC Pymble, was renamed Pymble Ladies’ College and became affiliated with the Uniting Church, while our College retained its links with the Presbyterian Church and returned to our original name of Presbyterian Ladies’ College Sydney (instead of Croydon). It was during Miss Dyson’s tenure as Principal that we returned to using “PLC Sydney”.

Despite a high level of inflation in the Australian economy during this period, enrolments increased from 505 in 1978 (4) to 701 in 1985. 5 Buildings and facilities were stretched to a limit and planning for expansion was necessary. In 1981 the architects Cox and Tanner were commissioned to prepare a master plan for the College and in 1984 the first major fundraising campaign was undertaken.

Implementing the master plan led to purchasing a number of properties that adjoined the College: a property in Edwin Street, “The Lowe” property at the corner of Meta and Grosvenor streets, and “Harmsworth” in Edwin Street. As well, Meta and Elizabeth streets were closed so that the Senior and Junior areas of the school could be combined in one campus. The College also absorbed Grosvenor Street.6

These moves were questionably the most significant, in terms of the physical layout of the College, undertaken since the move from Ashfield to Croydon in 1891. In her Speech Day address for 1984, Miss Dyson was able to announce that “Plans for future development of the College are nearing completion and we expect work to commence early next year on Stages One and Two, which include the Classroom Block, Home Science, Art and Computer facilities and a new gymnasium and sports field. . . By the time the school celebrates its Centenary in 1988 we will have first class facilities for the very wide range of subjects and activities offered.”7

  • Antonija Gros (b.1967) was a student at PLC Sydney from 1981-1984, when Miss Dyson was Principal. After a stint in the financial services sector, she moved to Singapore and enrolled in a diploma studies course in Fine Art. Since completing the course she conducts art workshops for adults and children, works as a book illustrator, designs greeting cards, and exhibits and sells her own work. Antonija lived in Singapore for 23 years but now owns and operates the Antonija Gros Fine Art Studio in Port Macquarie, NSW.

1 Series 43 Principals, Miss Patricia Dyson, Box 407, Speech Day Address 1979, Folder 2.
2 Series 43 Principals, Miss Patricia Dyson, Box 407, Folder 1, “The shape of things to come”, The Australian, 16 June 1983.
3 Series 43 Principals, Miss Patricia Dyson, Box 407, Speech Day Address 1984, Folder 2.
4 Series 43 Principals, Miss Patricia Dyson, Box 407, Principals’ Report to College Council, February 1978, Folder 4.
5 Series 43 Principals, Miss Patricia Dyson, Box 407, Report to General Assembly 1985, Folder 3.
6 The Golden Hope Presbyterian Ladies’ College Sydney 1888-1988, John McFarlane, 1988, p. 138.
7 Series 43 Principals, Miss Patricia Dyson, Box 407, Speech Day Address 1984, Folder 2.

 

miss-patricia-dyson

Miss Patricia Dyson
Portrait by Antonija Gros