Dear PLC Sydney Community
One of PLC Sydney’s main goals is to have each program working at a very high standard over a long period of time, whether it be academic results or efforts on the sporting field or cultural pursuits, we seek to offer strong programs. We pride ourselves on having established a very broad program at a very high level.
One way we measure our success is to examine the data on external results. For example in Public Speaking, we have strong evidence that the program has been rich and effective for decades.
The AHIGS Festival of Speech is the most comprehensive of the speech competitions held between 31 independent schools and features: debating, prose reading, poetry recital and reading, religious and ethical questions, current affairs and drama. In the history of the competition PLC Sydney has finished in the top three every year since inception, and in the top two on all but one occasion.
Although last week Ravenswood pipped our team at the post, we are extremely proud of our students. Congratulations in particular to Sophie Ma and Louisa Cusumano who won their sections.
Please click here to view the full AHIGS Festival of Speech results since 1996.
Across every area of the College, we seek to finish at least in the top five. This indicates to us that our overall programs are strong. Of course, some years will be ‘softer’ times in terms of results than others. Every year we lose very accomplished students in Year 12 and wonder ‘Can we maintain a standard?’ and so we ask ‘What does the mid to long term data tell us? Are we building the skills of our younger girls?'
Gymnastics is a good example of this methodology and I congratulate Michelle Olsson and her team. Last week our senior IGSSA Artistic Gymnastics team finished 2nd/31 schools and our senior Rhythmic team finished 7th/31 schools. The overall result was 4th, while our corresponding Junior competition results were equally as impressive, which indicates that the PLC Sydney students are being trained very effectively.
In other subject areas, I have noted in earlier articles the range of subjects where PLC Sydney students have achieved top ten places in various subjects. These include: English, Mathematics, Ancient History, Legal Studies and Chemistry. I would like to focus on Chinese on this occasion because it is one of many subject areas where the culture of enabling students to achieve their best is deeply embedded. I wish to recognize the hard work and careful thought of Ms. Pang in Chinese. She is ‘famous’ in the Chinese-Australian community for her educational work.
In other subject areas such as Chinese we have achieved excellent results, with many top ten places in every since 2008 and 4 top five positions last year.
Please click here to view our Chinese placements results since 2006.
There are so many other subject areas I could have highlighted such as Drama, where PLC Sydney regularly achieve OnStage nominations and academic results, including Jessica Lyons, whose work from last year is now included in the number 1 text book on Drama for the HSC.
Of course there is much, much more to any program than results. I was at volleyball at the weekend and the level of laughter and comradery on the court is not something that is measured yet it was fantastic. The girls were having great fun playing their sports. This is so important.
Equally, I was at the Transition celebration on Sunday and thoroughly enjoyed the warmth and engagement of our students with that event.
Similarly it is wonderful to have ex-students drop a note to tell us of their academic successes and lives post-school.
It is a careful balancing act. We strive for excellence yet it is based on a striving for a deep humanity and engagement with learning. Schools need ‘light’ and ‘shade’: serious learning and also light-hearted joy. As the school prayer says: ‘give to all who work here the true love of knowledge which makes all study a discovery and a joy.’
Perhaps a phrase like ‘commit fully, but hold on lightly’ helps. We seek to assist each student to 'keep having a go' and achieve their best, but not to put all of their ‘identity eggs’ in the basket labelled ‘results’. We seek to encourage them to measure their own progress and to count little victories along the way.
Thus measurement is a two-pronged fork: the College measures its own performance by quantitative and qualitative data. We encourage the students to honestly and positively measure themselves by checking their own progress and attitude to learning. In this latter venture Mrs Chiba and Ms Mitchell are heavily engaged. We now even track the students’ own reflections on their attitude to school.
Dr Paul Burgis