Concern is growing among Dunedin secondary school
principals that the increasing amount of extracurricular
activity going on in school time is encroaching on syllabus
learning in the classroom.
Former John McGlashan College principal Mike Corkery believed
sporting and cultural trips, many of which were to other
cities or countries for days or weeks at a time, were
disrupting pupils' focus on their academic studies, which
could reduce their achievements if not managed carefully by
''There's so much going on - it's so frustrating.
''It seems to be constant.
''You want the kids to do these things and have these
experiences, but you can't do everything.
''Increasingly, there are demands and expectations that they
can do these things during school time.''
In the world of work, sport and extracurricular activities
happened outside work time, Mr Corkery said.
But these activities were encroaching more and more on school
life, meaning there were few weeks of the year where
uninterrupted classroom work could take place.
''There are tournament weeks in March and August-September.
Once upon a time, there were three weeks' holiday in August -
the third week was for tournament.
''But then they changed the school year to a four-term year.
Now, there are only two weeks in the August holidays and we
have tournament week in school time.
''It's a big lot of learning that pupils miss out on.
''I think it's wonderful for kids to do extracurricular
activities, but I think we have to draw a line somewhere.
''The priority needs to stay on work in the classroom,'' he
Otago Boys' High School rector Clive Rennie agreed
inter-school tournaments encroached on classroom work, and
said there was the added concern tournaments were stretching
the finances of some families.
However, Mr Rennie added extracurricular activities gave
pupils an opportunity to learn time-management skills and,
from that perspective, they were valuable.
''They are something that has to be managed, but we still see
them as creating opportunities for students to shine and
develop their skill set.
''Some families will always be stretched. Our task is to
ensure boys do not miss out because of that lack of finance.
''Again, we must try and manage that, but it is very
difficult to raise money from trusts these days.''
Kaikorai Valley College principal Rick Geerlofs said if
schools were not conscious of the issue, it could start to
impact on pupils' assessment results and he and his staff had
been debating the issue.
''It is difficult to keep a balance. It poses a challenge to
find time for the curriculum while still offering students as
many opportunities as possible.
''The school year seems to get busier every year - it's a
struggle for all of us.
Bayfield High School principal Judith Forbes said balance was
''Certainly, our calendar is very busy. We try to reduce
interruptions to class time as much as possible.
''We block out some weeks to make them non-interruption
weeks. It's important at certain times of the year for
classes to be uninterrupted, such as prior to exams.
''However, we also recognise that involvement in
extracurricular activities increases engagement in school
life and can have a positive flow-on effect to the student
and their commitment to learning.
''The key is balance, and we certainly encourage each student
to be involved in at least one extracurricular activity,''