Dear PLC Sydney Community

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A student’s mental health and well-being are vitally important.

We are therefore very grateful to parents and guardians who recently completed our ‘Mind Matters’ survey. We undertook this survey to gain an understanding of how parents believe their daughter is faring at PLC Sydney.

The completion rate for the survey was 24%.

The main findings were:

  • There was strong support for a good mental health program (94%).
  • A significant proportion of families were aware in part or whole of the College’s approach to this area (77%).
  • A significant proportion of students (83%) feel a strong connection to the College, with 4% feeling disengaged.
  • 64% of families believed the College deals with bullying and harassment effectively, with 32% ‘neutral’ and 4% stating the College doesn’t handle these things well.
  • 86% of parents feel welcomed when they visit the College and one person does not feel welcome.
  • 95% of students feel safe at the College and one student doesn’t feel safe (NOTE: I urge the parent of this student to contact the College – the surveys are anonymous so we don’t know who answered in this manner).
  • 77% of parents believe their views and questions are taken seriously. 3% believe they are not.
  • 95% of parents support strategies to build resilience.
  • 99% of parents believe the College provides a range of opportunities that offer challenge to build resilience.
  • 70% of parents believe that we could improve our reporting processes on student well-being.
  • 52% of families believe that we could provide further assistance in providing information about adolescent development.
  • 94% would feel comfortable approaching the school for assistance with their child’s well-being, with 75% feeling very comfortable.
  • 87% of parents believed their daughter had an understanding of the signs of mental health difficulties to at least some degree, with 60% believing their daughter had a very good understanding.
  • Of the individual comments many were glowing in praise and a few were very critical. Some of the comments that covered areas not raised in the survey related to:
    • Families feeling they needed more time to make a full judgment
    • Expectations about staff-parent relationships needing to be defined
    • The strength of pastoral care in the Boarding House
    • Wondering how the school can positively impact the negative parent behaviour of a few.

Our response to the survey has three parts:

  • To review the findings and celebrate successes as well as to identify changes that need to be made.
  • To resource any structural change.
  • To professionally develop staff where necessary.

In regard to one structural change, next year Ms Lauren Mitchell will take on the new responsibility of overseeing our tracking of student well-being. We do keep thorough records, but we wish to organise them in a manner to be able to provide them to staff in an ‘easier to digest’ manner. Whilst, to quote Judith Wright, "No net is large enough to catch the world," it is critical that we have structures that effectively support the work of staff in supporting student well-being.

A second change is the introduction of David John to oversee individual programs for girls’ physical health. I have written about this previously. If students are physically healthy it assists their mental state.

We will look at the messages of the survey carefully. One positive message from the survey was that a very large percentage of families feel their daughter is very well supported at school. Two of the ‘the school could do better’ messages were that we could improve our reporting on student well-being and we could reconsider how we provide information/support regarding student development.

Thank you for your support.

Finally, I am looking forward to Speech Day. It is a wonderful occasion, a celebration of the year.

I take this opportunity also to wish you and your family a blessed Christmas and refreshing holiday period. Thank you for your support in 2015. 

Dr Paul Burgis