Director of Boarding

As I write this newsletter I am sitting in my beautiful office at Locke Street.  I often look at the photos of the women on the walls outside of my door – Miss Constance Mackness (1918 – 1949); Miss Isobel Taylor (1950 – 1955); Mrs Dorothy Green and Mrs Betty Crombie (1957 – 1960); Miss Dorothy Evers (1961 – 1966); Mrs Janet Stabler (1967 – 1968) and Mrs Mair Pearcy (1968).  By the look of them, these women were formidable role models for the girls of the house.  I am sitting at the very desk they sat at and looked at the beautiful gardens through the same windows.

The life in the PGC boarding house for the girls under my care has many similarities to the thousands of girls who have gone before them.  Indeed Fraser Bolton and Stewart Bailey also look after boarding houses full of boys so like the other boys who have been on the Oxenham Street campus. We are and have always been a caring community full of students from a diverse range of backgrounds.  They all had or have caring parents or guardians; they all had or have dreams and aspirations for after school, they all had or have their own story to tell.

However life in the 2018 boarding houses comes with unique challenges.  As a College we have foremost in our minds the mental well being of all our students.  We must balance the academic, social, sporting, cultural, spiritual lives of the students and ensure that we help them with strategies to deal with whatever life throws at them.  We must help them become independent, confident and resilient.

In light of all that has happened in the boarding community this year, the boarding staff has decided that a boarding staff member will formally touch base with each and every student to have the conversation around just how they are going.  We have devised a survey type document with questions around how they are feeling; how their interactions with friends, other students and teachers are going; how they are coping with the workload; how they are sleeping and other questions aimed at ensuring they are OK. An email will then be sent to parents with a quick summary of the discussion.  Heads of House will also review the results and devise any measure that need to be taken to help individuals or the whole boarding community. We are hoping to complete these conversations in the next week or two.

I also think it is important for you, as carers and parents, to be aware of the process that occurs in the boarding houses when staff are aware of a student who is struggling.  If the area of concern is academic the boarding house staff contact the school – either Mark Richards or directly the teacher involved.  We just give them a heads up that a particular student may need a helping hand.

If the student just needs someone to talk to, staff offer support whenever it is needed.  Students connect with different staff and we are talking to the boarders about seeking their mentor out if they feel the need.  If the adult feels that there is a need for more specialist advice we have a process of going through the steps to put the student in touch with a psychologist or GP.  Parents are always included in any decisions and we encourage you to communicate with us directly if you have any concerns.

We are heading into the cooler weather and, with this change of season, comes bringing out the coats, jumpers, scarves etc. Please talk to your student about ensuring they have named all their belongings as, due to the hourly changing of temperature, clothing is discarded and donned throughout the day.  If you are speaking to your child please ask them to check the naming of their clothes and, if they are not named, to ask staff for a permanent marker to do so.