Rotorua Daily Post health and business reporter

Teachers say valuable learning in holidays

Otonga Road Primary School principal Linda Woon. PHOTO/FILE
Otonga Road Primary School principal Linda Woon. PHOTO/FILE

Travelling overseas with children during term time can provide valuable learning opportunities - but parents should make the most of them, according to one local principal.

Otonga Rd Primary School principal Linda Woon said she could understand the reasons behind parents taking children out of school during term time - especially because of the significant cost savings travelling outside school holidays.

It comes as new figures showed nationally more than 23,000 school students were taken out of class for a family holiday each term.

Ms Woon said there were plenty of learning experiences to be had on overseas trips, especially for primary school students, and families could help by genuinely making the most of the learning experiences.

"Not all learning takes place in the classroom."

Taking the right types of photos, keeping a diary and having conversations about what was different from New Zealand were some ways parents could make the most of it, Ms Woon said.

She said it was disappointing when families agreed to do such things on holiday, then didn't.

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"Families will make that decision but I'd like them to make very good use of an expensive learning opportunity."

Rotorua Principals Association president and Ngakuru School principal Grant Henderson said it proved an "interesting dilemma".

He had taken his children out of school last year to go on a trip to Italy following the steps of the Maori Battalion.

A former principal had told him the reason schools took kids on camp was to provide valuable learning experiences, and overseas trips could do the same thing, he said.

Mr Henderson said he believed if children had a good, consistent attendance rate he didn't believe schools would be too concerned.

Rotorua Lakes High School principal Bruce Walker said it was "fairly common" for parents to take children out of school for holidays.

He said those that did were given a letter pointing out if they were NCEA level then they might miss out on assessments.

The school advised parents to liaise with teachers.

Mr Walker said he had taken his son out of school to travel overseas when he was intermediate age and had seen the growth his son experienced.

He said a greater concern was with parents allowing students to stay home for no reason, or to help with other kids or family events.

"Those are more worrying. Most of the overseas trips are once in a lifetime."

Rotorua Hello World owner/operator Deborah Kay said she could definitely see both sides of the argument.

She said there were various reasons families chose to book outside of school holidays and while price was a big factor, parents' workload, availability of flights and accommodation and family reasons also played a role.

She said savings for families travelling outside school holidays was often around $200 per person - and could sometimes be the difference between a family being able to go or not.

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