Dear PLC Sydney Community

Connections_Paul Burgis_verticalIn 2011 PLC Sydney took part in a cross-sectorial survey of our student relationships. We wanted to receive some data as to whether or not students believed they were in situations involving conflict, and to ascertain if there was any hidden bullying. We were grateful to receive feedback from the researchers that our College had one of the lowest rates of bullying of the schools surveyed from across NSW.

These data were encouraging but we took it a step further. We want a really positive school where respect is the expected norm. Mrs Maxwell (then Miss Galotta) worked with a group of students to create a play called Cyberbile. Students collected stories from students in our own and other schools of the life of a teenager online. With the assistance of the well-known playwright, Alana Valentine, we produced a piece of verbatim theatre that captured the joys and dangers of the online world.

We were seeking to start a conversation about any secret nastiness that might be ‘out there’ in cyberspace. The play received an award and is now a published text being dramatised by other schools. It was a great salve for our students and assisted them to think about the ethics of online communication.

Again in 2013 we conducted research into our students’ resilience and capacity to respond to others who react to them with strong voices. Again the results were encouraging. We did note, however, that some of our Junior School students were having some social difficulties at that time. This led to the Heart, Head, Hands program.

It is now 2015 and our students will be undertaking a Mission Skills Assessment in June. We are looking at the capacity of our students across a much broader range of skills than we would have imagined in such a survey in 2011. We are seeking to find out how effectively our Years 6, 7 and 8 students are developing their teamwork, creativity, ethics, resilience, curiosity and time management. This focus on the development of positive skills for life flows out of our emphasis on Heart, Head, Hands in the Junior School and on Learning Virtues in the Senior School. You are able to find out more about this methodology by visiting We are one of nine schools in NSW trialling this form of research.

The things that Mission Skills tests are critical to life. We hope to find out how effective our programs are and to make adjustments according to the results. Thank you for your support of this program.

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I would like to note how proud we all are of our debating teams. This Friday night we have a Year 7, a Year 8 and a Year 9 team in the ‘Champion of Champions’ finals. Seven out of our eight teams made it through the local round robin competition to the Sydney-wide knock-out rounds. After a series of highly competitive debates all three of our remaining teams debated Abbotsleigh College in the semi-final last week. All three teams won.

It is very important that young woman are confident to hone their thinking and speaking. We are very proud of them all.

Dr Paul Burgis