Dear PLC Sydney Community
Click the image to watch Vlog # 3 From the Principal - New Uniforms
Recently one of our chaplains spoke with me to explain her 'Young Women in Leadership' approach with 'Fuel', our Christian Student Union. She is working closely with a chaplain in our brother school to engage students in cross-campus discussions, forums and even a camp. She is encouraging all girls in her group to ponder what it means to be a leader, personally, ethically and in decision-making processes.
This week Year 11 are voting for their leadership team for the 2017 year. That's right, not only are there elections for the US and Australian citizenry and media to ponder, we have our own!
How does PLC Sydney envisage student leadership?
We support both formal and informal structures for student leadership.
The formal structure revolves around portfolios and inducted leadership positions in Years 6 and 12. Formal assemblies are used as markers to set students in place in formal roles such as Captain.
In the Senior School students nominate for these positions. Elections are held with voting undertaken by Years 10 – 12 and staff. There are 33 positions in total with titles such as 'International Programs Captain' and 'Captain of Music'. Staff then identify students who have committed themselves throughout their schooling to an area of responsibility (e.g. Art, Drama, Debating). The results of the election are used to place students into portfolios. Students who accept a leadership portfolio have particular responsibilities to fulfil (e.g. the Publications Captain is the editor of College Crow, the student magazine).
Next, the Houses come together to vote for their Captains and Vice Captains. Thus, students who lead Houses require both the recognition of staff, senior students, and their own Houses in order to earn the right to lead.
In the Boarding House, a similar voting system is used to identify Boarding Prefects.
The students who receive the highest number of votes in the election overall (i.e. finish in the top five places) undergo an interview with the Principal, Deputy Principal and Chaplain, in order to be selected as Captain, Vice-Captain or Senior Prefect.
This system has been fine-tuned over the years to ensure that the following criteria are met:
- Leaders require the respect and recognition of peers and staff
- Leaders need to take on areas of responsibility where they have proven their abilities and character
- Groups within the College (e.g. Houses) need to elect their own leaders
- Senior leadership positions require the equivalent of a job interview.
A similar but less elaborate system is used in the Junior School.
On the day that our leaders in Years 6 and 12 are inducted every student in those year groups is identified as a leader. They lead, like the girls in the Fuel Group, through their character and interest in others. They lead by having the courage to show initiative. Yet they also have specific roles. In the House Choir and Gymnastics competitions, in the House Swimming and Diving and Athletics Competitions, and to a lesser degree in House Cross Country and Debating, the senior girls lead. They guide and mentor the younger girls. They help to organise and plan. We specifically celebrate our senior years through key events (e.g. 'the Dance Off' at the Swimming Carnival).
There are numerous opportunities for younger girls:
- The Student Representative Council. I have presented two recent issues to this group: 1) What should the school mascot be? 2) What form should the Year 10 celebration take in 2017?
- Peer Leadership program led by Year 10 students for Year 7 students
- Peer Support program led by Year 6 students with groups of girls in Years 1– 5
- Leadership through the Service Learning Program, from setting up the Pet Show through to leading in Vietnam at the Ba Vi Orphanage
- Leadership by girls in school productions or music groups
- The leadership of clubs and groups such as the aforementioned Fuel Group
- Leadership on school tours and camps
- Individual or small group opportunities such as International Women's Day or ANZAC Day representations
- Academic leadership in the Senior School. We are looking to extend this to provide mentoring support to the Homework Club
- Leadership within regular classes which is connected to project-based learning
- Every student does public speaking each year at PLC Sydney.
We celebrate the contribution of students at PLC Sydney and thank them for building our community. It is essential that schools provide many and varied opportunities for students to lead one another.
Dr Paul Burgis