Participation can improve motivation, concentration, confidence and teamwork. Whatever makes students feel good – and some get it from rugby, others from maths – will help them to learn well.
Earlier this year, ACG Strathallan ranked top school in South Auckland in Metro magazine’s Best Auckland Secondary Schools list, based on its University Entrance (UE) pass rates.
UE increased from 83% to 87% year on year at the Karaka-based school – and Principal Danny O’Connor is aiming for even better results next year.
But, he’s quick to point out that academic achievements are just one measure of success.
“Our overarching goal is to provide our students with a holistic education that will help them to grow and develop into good people that will go on to make a positive difference in their communities,” he said.
“We have a strong culture of learning and our dedicated team of teachers continue to go above and beyond to support our students to achieve their potential. But that culture is not just limited to the classroom. Our students are also achieving exceptional results in everything from arts and music to sport.”
He said the school aims to provide students with a challenging holistic education, underpinned by five key elements – academics, student well-being, sport, activities and the arts, experiential education outside of the classroom, and leadership and service.
Students are encouraged to get involved in something they are passionate about and to continue once they leave school, because it’s recognised that participation in any activity outside the classroom will bring benefits.
House Leader Nikita Horan and Head of the Student Council Mckenzie Northcott personify the ethos. Mckenzie is a national referee for netball, captain of the premier netball team and regularly helps out with community service projects. She was a driving force behind the Hingaia Gardens development in Karaka and has recently been awarded the Manu Kaewa School Leavers Scholarship from Waikato University.
Nikita is a competitive hip-hop dancer, premier netball player and qualified New Zealand surf lifesaver. In August she competed in the final of her first pageant – Miss Auckland – raising money for Youthline. She also has two part-time jobs: teaching children to swim, and working at a retirement village in Pukekohe. She’s currently studying for her final exams and hopes to study communication design at university next year.
“Traditional assumptions about the interrelationship between extracurricular activities and learning are now being supported by research showing there is indeed a link with student achievement and gains in maths, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking and verbal skills,” Mr O’Connor says.
“Participation can improve motivation, concentration, confidence and teamwork. Whatever makes students feel good – and some get it from rugby, others from maths – will help them to learn well.”