It’s tempting to focus on academic results when researching school options for your child. However, it’s imperative to think of education more holistically and consider your child’s other needs. Co-curricular programs in schools can give parents an insight into how schools view other areas of development such as building self-esteem, gaining cultural experiences, developing leadership skills and giving back to the community. A school’s co-curricular program can also be indicative of the pastoral care approach and the school’s education philosophy. Here’s what to look for in a school’s co-curricular program.
A sense of belonging and inclusivity
Recently the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) released a report showing that Australian students, on average, have a poorer sense of belonging at school. A good co-curricular program creates a strong sense of belonging for students and promotes solid friendships and camaraderie. The program will carefully plan activities that promote inclusivity to ensure students feel that they belong. Look for happy and engaged students when attending school tours and teachers that proactively involve all students in activities.
A focus on transferable skills
When researching a school, look for a well planned co-curricular program that helps students to grow in a range of skills. Academic subjects can only take your child so far in developing transferable skills such as collaboration, negotiation, leadership and social skills. The hands on nature of co-curricular activities such as sports, debating, music and robotics teaches students the ability to work with others. This supports the development of better emotional and social intelligence, a trait that is highly valued by recruiters.
A quality co-curricular program will inspire and extend the interests, talents and skills of students. Look for a range of co-curricular offerings that allows your child to pursue their passions through age appropriate developmental stages. Co-curricular activities can be more effective in extending students than classroom activities, which typically consist of larger groups of students with mixed ability.
It complements the academic curriculum
When questioning a school about their co-curricular program, ask them how they link activities to the academic curriculum. Co-curricular programs that complement academic subjects work together to educate the whole child and bolster their knowledge in multidisciplinary settings. A great example of this is the Creative Arts Curriculum at Scots which aligns co-curricular activities with classroom practices.
Quality staff and facilities
A great co-curricular program is only as good as the staff that teach it and the environment it is taught in. Look for a school that values quality educators and provides ongoing professional development opportunities for its staff. While touring a school, it’s also a good idea to look for quality teaching spaces and facilities. Well maintained sports grounds, quality music auditoriums and theatres and up-to-date equipment are typical signs that a school is well equipped to deliver their co-curricular program successfully.
This is by no means a complete list of what to look for in a school’s co-curricular program. Hopefully it gets you thinking about the benefits of co-curricular activities when it’s planned and executed well. For more information of the co-curricular program at Scots, visit this page.
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