Extracurricular options for your child

School gateStudents have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of co-curricular and extracurricular activities during their schooling years. From music and performing arts to community service and leadership, the options are almost endless. This has many benefits for your child, including opportunities to make new friends and the sense of belonging that comes with being part of a team or group, the chance to learn new skills or expand their knowledge in areas of interest, and the potential to increase their self-confidence and independence. We list some of the most common options below.

  • Music and performing arts: Schools often hold productions, such as musicals or plays, that allow students to perform on stage, play as part of an orchestra or even help out behind the scenes with the technical aspects of the production (lighting and costume, for example). Single-sex schools often pair up with a brother or sister school for these productions, which provides a social opportunity outside of the classroom. Most schools also offer a variety of instruments for students to learn, with specialist teachers available for private or group tuition. Depending on the instrument, there is usually the option of participating in ensembles and bands in addition to tuition. Private lessons often involve preparation for the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB) exams, which provide nationally recognised qualifications in music, speech and drama. For more information, visit the AMEB website.
     
  • Sport and outdoor education: Inter-house carnivals for swimming, cross country and athletics are common at most schools, with the opportunity for top athletes to go on to represent their school at district, regional or state levels. Students can also participate in inter-school sport, competing against nearby schools in sports such as cricket, hockey, netball, tennis and football. Alternatives, such as aerobics and yoga, may be available for students not wishing to participate in competitive sport. Many schools give students the chance to take part in outdoor education excursions, allowing them to try activities such as skiing and surfing.
     
  • Personal development programs: The Duke of Edinburgh Award (‘Duke of Ed’) is offered in a number of secondary schools across the country and is open to young people aged 14 to 25. Participants complete a tailored program that incorporates awards such as physical recreation, skill, volunteering, adventurous journey and residential project. The award is completed at bronze, silver or gold level over a set amount of time. For more information, visit the Duke of Ed website. Some schools have their own personal development options. Cadet programs, for example, have become popular and include activities and training in areas such as orienteering, navigation and first aid.
     
  • Academic competitions: There are many academic competitions open to students in areas such as maths, science and English, as well as in more specialised subjects such as IT or Economics. An example is the International Competitions and Assessments for Schools (ICAS) program, which is conducted by the University of New South Wales in the areas of computer skills, English, mathematics, science, spelling and writing. Other competitions include the Australasian Problem Solving Mathematical Olympiads and the National History Challenge. Debating competitions are another great option (available in most schools), allowing students to compete against other schools in local debating competitions.
     
  • Leadership and community service: Most schools allow students to apply for leadership positions or a place on a student committee such as the Student Representative Council (SRC). There is usually a wide variety of leadership positions available — from the general school and house captains to more specific roles such as sporting, arts or faith captains. Some schools may also provide students with the opportunity to attend leadership conferences or workshops.Community service opportunities are also common, with students able to join groups such as Amnesty International, get involved in service expeditions and fundraisers, and sign up to tutor other students.
     
  • Other opportunities: If your child isn’t interested in any of these options, check with their school to see what else is available, or alternatively what types of activities your child can get involved with outside of school. Schools may run a student exchange program with a sister school overseas or conduct study tours, generally corresponding with the language your child is learning. Study tours can also be arranged locally, and may also be available in other subjects such as art, history and politics.    

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