Tauranga Boys set for sport-based learning

By Peter White


Tauranga Boys' College is one of eight secondary schools chosen to take part in a Sport New Zealand project which aims to use the power of sport to help kids achieve in the classroom and the community.

The project is designed to improve academic and social outcomes by using sport as a context for learning and student engagement. The schools involved are Aotea College, Wellington, Hillmorton High School, Christchurch, Howick College, Auckland, Kaikorai Valley College, Dunedin, Papakura High School, Auckland, Queen's High School, Dunedin, Te Kuiti High School and Tauranga Boys'.

The initial eight participating secondary schools were selected from 41 that expressed an interest to be involved, with the final selection offering an ideal balance across a range of criteria including decile, geographic location, roll size and demographics and current academic performance.

As well as focusing on improving academic and social outcomes for students and schools, the three-year initiative also aims to increase the number of participants in school sport (both playing and coaching) and better connect secondary schools to their surrounding communities such as neighbouring primary schools and sports clubs.

The resources will progressively be made available to not only the network of participating schools, but also those schools that missed selection and ultimately to all secondary schools throughout the country.

Tauranga Boys' Principal Robert Mangan says sport is a significant factor in helping raise academic levels and he wants all boys to participate in co-curricular activities.

"We are going to trial different strands. Firstly we are going to take a Year 9 class, and they will do their English, Mathematics and Physical Education using sport as the context for the curriculum.

"We are trying to increase their engagement in academic learning through involvement in a sporting context, with the ultimate aim to improve their literacy and numeracy. It is about finding something that makes it relevant to them and that is one of the most significant things.

"We will also work with our boys in terms of coaching at level two physical education classes, and they will go out into the community and work in primary schools, as well as working with boys in our senior teams."

Sports Director at Tauranga Boys', Darrell Boyd, is overseeing the roles of three specialists in English, Mathematics and Physical Education who will then work with teachers in those areas at the eight schools.

Boyd says the great thing about the project is the realisation that sport can be a vehicle for other learning.

"In terms of a very simplistic model of what it could look like in our school, is the sport of American Gridiron, the NFL. There are so many movies made about the NFL so that forms a good study in terms of an English context and what their achievement standards might be.

"From a maths concept they have to do statistics and things like that, in measuring yards run and throws, or how many plays, so it all builds together.

"The framework we want to work in is around teaching as inquiry. One of the things in terms of the key roles in the project is also to provide professional development for the eight schools selected to allow them to do more blue-sky thinking about what they can do with sport as context, and from there we develop the resources.

"The plan is to have those resources on line that other schools can use. There is a lot of interest in this."

Boyd believes the project will make major differences in improving the academic development of our students.

"I am passionate about young kids being involved in physical activity and sport, and I know from experience how they can grow academically from being involved.

"There is a lot of society added-value to those things so it is an exciting project."

The new initiative is set to roll out in Term One, 2013.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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