Making sure all is sound with global education
The Global Education program at PLC Sydney is a significant undertaking.
Parents are aware that out of each Year 10 cohort about 70 students go on exchange for six weeks to one of our sister schools, that we send about 60 students on Service Learning trips, and that we hold various curricular and co-curricular tours.
The Global Education program also provides significant opportunities for our students to connect with the world. For example:
- Each year we host about 70 students from countries around the world. We have the joy of sharing our playground with the world.
- Visiting teachers and principals come to us each year, sharing their knowledge with us.
- Remember our 125 Year Anniversary. Our sister schools from Germany, Japan and China joined us. What a joy it was to see them perform! Earlier this year some of our musicians went to Japan to perform at their anniversary. These reciprocal relations matter.
- Our Global Perspectives class in Year 10 interacts with students from our sister schools.
- We can offer post-school options like the fashion course in Florence because of our connections.
Safety is, of course, paramount in such a program. I would like parents to be aware of the lengths we go to to 'get it right'. Take, for instance, our decision to send students to Brazil for the first time this year. In selecting this school as our sister school, we:
- Found a school (Bom Jesus School in Joinville) with a ten year history of successful exchange with one of our other sister schools. Joinville has been identified as one of the safest cities in South America.
- Sent our Head of Global Education with two experienced exchange students to test out the school in the year before exchange took place. They undertook a mock exchange in our October holiday period and wrote full reports on their experiences. Ms Brewer completed a full risk assessment.
- After clearing the venue, we sent a teacher over with the first group of students.
- I have just brought them home. This enabled me to check all systems are in place and that travel arrangements are sound. It also enabled me to meet the principal and to forge a positive bond.
- We continue to build relations and to enjoy the benefits of exchange through email and phone contact.
Exchange is about giving students the opportunity to learn independence so it is inevitable that they will make the occasional mistake. Our role is to have the foundations right.
Recently I was asked to speak at the National Conference of Principals of Independent Schools on our program, such is the regard in which it is held. One thing I explained was the need for excellent relationships and risk assessments. Our students benefit from this careful planning.
Dr Paul Burgis