Waitaki Boys' High School is preparing senior pupils for careers related to the primary sector.

This year it is providing agribusiness as a subject for boys in years 12 and 13.

Teacher in charge of agriculture Elizabeth Prentice said the new NCEA subject was provided in response to demand from pupils and their families.

The school has offered practical agriculture for years. Agribusiness added academic elements of science, economics, and analytical thinking, preparing the pupils for a wide range of future careers, Miss Prentice said.

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She wanted to extend the boys, who were ''very good at underselling themselves''.

''I want to encourage them to show how intelligent and thoughtful they are.''

Agribusiness was trialled with year 9 pupils last year. Miss Prentice had high hopes that some of those boys would earn scholarship passes in the future.

The year 12 and 13 pupils were working on the same topics at the same time, but at different levels.

Their first investigation was into the irrigation system set up at Fraser Farm, a 16ha commercial sheep operation and teaching block alongside the school.

The boys would have to study the data it generated in a ''scientifically valid'' method, Miss Prentice said.

She was delighted that the school's senior management and Fraser Farm committee had seized the opportunity to offer agribusiness.

''We're trying to expand it out as far as possible.''

Fraser Farm also hosts pupils from nearby Waitaki Girls' High School for practical components of their agriculture studies. Miss Prentice envisaged the two schools carrying out NCEA achievement standard investigations together.

Central Rural Life