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The Presbyterian Ladies' College, Melbourne, (P.L.C) is an independent, Presbyterian, day and boarding school predominantly for girls, located in Burwoodmarker, an eastern suburb of Melbournemarker, Victoriamarker, Australia.

Founded in 1875 at East Melbournemarker, P.L.C was the first public school for girls in Australia. The College has a non-selective enrolment policy and currently caters for approximately 1,450 students from the Early Learning Centre (ELC) to Year 12, including 110 boarders. P.L.C features a co-educational Early Learning Centre, and a girls only environment from Kindergarten to Year 12. The College has been an IB World School since September 1990, and is authorised to offer the IB Diploma Programme.

P.L.C is affiliated with the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA), the Junior School Heads Association of Australia (JSHAA), the Alliance of Girls' Schools Australasia (AGSA), the Association of Independent Schools of Victoria (AISV), the Australian Boarding Schools Association (ABSA), and is a founding member of Girls Sport Victoria (GSV).

In 2001, The Sun-Herald named P.L.C Melbourne the best girls' school in Australia based on the number of its alumni mentioned in the Who's Who in Australia (a listing of notable Australians).


Wood engraving of the planned Ladies' College, 1875.
Only half was eventually built.
The Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria set up an Education Committee in 1869, to look into establishing a Ladies' College. At this time the Church owned in Albert Street, East Melbournemarker, opposite the current Fitzroy Gardensmarker, and not far from the original site of the Scotch Collegemarker. A school building and a teacher's home were already built on the site, and were rented to a teacher as a primary school. The committee resolved to build the college and provide advice and support, but the college would be self-supporting.

Joseph Reed drew plans for a building that would house 30 boarders and 150 day students, at an estimated cost of £12,000. So they decided to draw a line down the middle of the plans and build one section only.
The building was completed in time for the school's first year of 1875, with Charles Henry Pearson as founding Principal. Pearson served as Principal until 1879, when Andrew Harper took over. While other private (church run) girls schools had existed prior to P.L.C, the school was Australia's first school for girls to offer a program and education equal to that of the boys school that had been modelled on the great English Public Schools. Subsequently, P.L.C can claim to be the first 'public school' for girls in Australia. The school's current motto, Lex Dei Vitae Lampas ("The Law of God is the Lamp of Life") was introduced during the Second World War, as the original German motto was deemed inappropriate.

By 1938, the East Melbourne buildings were at maximum capacity, and the College Council began a search for a new site for the school. In 1939, they purchased a property in the suburb of Burwood, called "Hethersett". The Junior School was moved in 1939, but the complete move was delayed by the outbreak of the Second World War.

On 29 September 1956, Lady Brooks, the wife of General Sir Dallas Brooks, the Governor of Victoria, laid the foundation stone for the new school buildings at Burwood, and the Senior School moved in 1958. Sadly the schools original buildings at East Melbourne were demolished that same year to make way for a Masonic Centre.


Dormitory of the PLC 'Karinya' boarding house, c.1875
The P.L.C Boarding House provides accommodation for 106 girls. Boarders have access to the College's recreational and sporting facilities as well as computers for study needs.

In 2008, P.L.C opened a new extension to the Boarding House, adding sixty individual bedrooms for senior girls, new bathrooms, recreational facilities and more space for quiet study.


As with all Australian independent schools, P.L.C is not a full fee paying institution, due to it receiving limited government funding; full fees only apply to international students, who are not subsidised by any funding. For non-international students, 2009 fees range from AUD$11,112 to $20,216 per annum, and in excess of $39,000 per annum for boarding students.

P.L.C offers scholarships for girls entering in Year 5 in the Junior School, and at Years 7 to 11 in Senior School. Scholarships on offer include academic and music with some being specifically reserved for daughters of Old Collegians. The College also offers boarding bursaries from time to time. Academic scholarship offers are based on the results of the ACER Scholarship Examination.

School departments

P.L.C is divided into three school zones:
  1. The Early Learning Centre, which educates girls and boys from 6 months to 5 years of age, using the Reggio Emilia approach.
  2. The Junior School for girls from Prep to Grade 6.
  3. The Senior School which incorporates Years 7 to 12.


Early Learning Centre

The Early Learning Centre (ELC) caters for students from 6 months to five years of age. The academic program for three, four, and five year-old children is influenced by the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. Students at this stage are introduced to mathematics, language, reading, writing, science, social studies, drama, dance and movement, and Christian Education, through individual and group activities.

The program for children under three years of age is designed to develop basic skills such as independence, listening, communication and sharing. Indoor and outdoor activities are utilised in order to encourage development in cognitive, social, emotional and motor areas.

Junior school

The Junior School curriculum is based on the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS), and is designed to cater for the different needs of students. Curriculum areas are inter-related, with mastery of the English language seen as a priority. Subjects studied at this stage include Literature, Mathematics, Science, Technology, Studies of Society and Environment, Music, Art, Drama, Religious Education, Physical and Outdoor Education. French is introduced at the lower Primary level.

Senior school

In Years 7 to 10, the school follows a core curriculum determined by the Victorian Essential Learning Standards. An elective program is offered to Years 9 and 10, allowing for a wide subject choice, enabling students to study subjects intensively or follow a new field of learning.



Drama and dance studies are part of the compulsory curriculum in the Early Learning Centre, Junior School and in year 8. It may be chosen as an elective subject in Years 9 and 10. P.L.C also offers VCE Theatre Studies.

Musical and drama performances are held by the school each year to cater for students with an interest in an instrument, singing, acting, dancing or backstage. P.L.C also features a number of annual traditions, such as House Concerts and massed choirs and orchestras on stage at the Melbourne Concert Hallmarker, for the Senior School Speech Night. The Year 8 drama and Senior School drama productions are conducted in collaboration with the Scotch College.

Outdoor education

The sequential Outdoor Education program begins with a Year 3 teddy bears sleep-over, and carries through to the Year 11 Leadership Camp. From Years 4 to 12, there are a wide range of outdoor, adventure, curriculum and special interest camps including art, biology, Christian Convention, The Duke of Edinburgh Award, IB, geography, music, physics, leadership, astronomy, skiing, rowing, and surfing.


P.L.C's sporting program includes specialist sports such as sportaerobics fencing, triathlon, rowing, taekwondo, surf lifesaving and equestrian. P.L.C also participates in the full range of sports on offer by Girls' Sport Victoria: athletics, basketball, badminton, cricket, cross-country, diving, golf, hockey, netball, soccer, softball, swimming, indoor cricket, tennis, volleyball and water polo.

House system

The Junior School and Senior School have separate house systems, with different colours representing each House. The Junior school has four houses, each named after the founders of P.L.C:
  • Hethersett - Blue
  • Koorinya - Silver
  • Woollahra - Yellow
  • Wyselaskie - Pink

In the Senior School, the houses compete in all areas to gain points in order to win the House Cup at the end of the year. House events include concerts, athletics and swimming. However, small-scale activities range from maths to debating to chess. If a student makes a valuable contribution to her house, the house captains (chosen from Year 12) may choose to award house colours to that student. The Senior school has six houses, each named after Scottish castles:
  • Atholl - Blue
  • Balmoral - White
  • Glamis - Green
  • Leven - Purple
  • Rosslyn - Red
  • Stirling - Orange


Old Collegians Logo
Alumnae of the Presbyterian Ladies' College, Melbourne are known as "Old Collegians", and automatically become members of the schools alumni association, the PLC Old Collegians' Association (PLC OCA). The PLC OCA was formed in 1903 as a way of keeping PLC women in touch with each other, and the School.

In 2001, The Sun-Herald named P.L.C Melbourne the best girls' school in Australia based on the number of its alumni mentioned in the Who's Who in Australia (a listing of notable Australians). Amongst these women are Helen Mitchell, the Soprano who became best known as Dame Nellie Melba; Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson, the author published as Henry Handel Richardson; Marion Phillips, Politician and the first Australian woman to win a seat in a national parliament; and Vida Goldstein, Suffragette and the first woman to stand for election to the Federal Parliament of Australia.


See also


Further reading

  • Fitzpatrick, K. 1975. PLC Melbourne: The First Century 1875-1975. Burwood, The Presbyterian Ladies College.
  • Reid, M.O. 1960. The Ladies Came to Stay: A Study of the Education of Girls at the Presbyterian Ladies' College, Melbourne 1875-1960. Melbourne, Council of the College.
  • Pressley, M. 1988. "Tapestries: A Collection of Family Histories from Presbyterian Ladies' College". Ashwood House, Surrey Hills, Victoria.
  • McFarlane, J.D. 1998. The Golden Hope: Presbyterian Ladies' College, 1888-1988. P.L.C Council, Presbyterian Ladies' College, Sydney. ISBN 0-9597340-1-5.

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