Thursday, June 04, 2009

Boys who do sport and after-school activities do better in exams

Rather a contradiction to the "dumb jock" image

Boys who play sport or take part in after-school clubs are more likely to do well in exams, according to research that suggests a healthy body really does lead to a healthy mind. Cricket, orienteering and even bell-ringing improves the academic achievements of pupils at private schools, researchers at the Independent Schools Council (ISC) say. The difference that extra-curricular activities make to boys’ exam performance is more marked than the effect on girls at GCSE, they found.

Andrew Halls, head of King’s College School for boys in Wimbledon, South London, where pupils have activities in place of lessons on Friday afternoons, said that his pupils needed stimulation outside the classroom to do well in exams. “Boys really want a hinterland to their studies. They don’t want to work in a vacuum and need a sense of life beyond the classroom to make the classroom more palatable,” he said. “Girls tend to weather tedium better than boys. If their lessons are boring, girls will compensate for that, whereas with boys it explodes in your face a bit.”

Researchers compared the number of activities on offer at 508 member schools of the ISC with their academic performance at GCSE. Those offering more clubs and sporting opportunities had better results.

Tim Hands, head master of Magdalen College School, Oxford, where 91 per cent of boys achieved As or above at GCSE in 2007, said: “There is a pretty dramatic correlation between those who take on a major activity — whether it is starring in a play or captaining the first XI cricket team — and getting first-choice universities after A Level or doing particularly well at GCSE. People benefit from having commitments across the board. They have got a sense of focus and perspective.”

Schools with 30 different options outside lesson time had 100 per cent of pupils all gaining Bs or above in GCSE, the study showed. Those offering fewer than 20 activities had 10 per cent of pupils gaining Bs or above.

Clarissa Farr, high mistress of St Paul’s School for Girls, said that girls benefited just as much from extracurricular activities as boys. “A broad range of activities is fundamental to academic success,” she said.

Previous studies have suggested a strong positive link between pupil participation in sport and academic achievement but have not found a gender difference. Jacquelynne Eccles, of the psychology department at the University of Michigan, said that her study into the link between sporting activity and academic attainment found no gender divide. “But if there is a difference, it would be in that direction because the boys would be the ones that take up the sports most,” she said.


Australia: Islamic school plans turned down by NSW Land and Environment Court

Not mentioned below is that there were big protests from locals over this proposal

THE proposed islamic school near Camden has been rejected by the NSW Land and Environment Court. The Quranic Society launched an appeal over the application after Camden Council turned down the plans in May last year. Commissioner Graham Brown upheld Camden Council’s decision to turn down the Quranic Society’s application this morning.

Commissioner Brown said he rejected plans for the school on Burragorang Rd because the development would not be in keeping with Camden’s rural character and heritage. The commissioner agreed with Camden Council’s decision last year and rejected the school plans pursuant to objectives C and F of the site’s 1(a) zoning. He also said some public interest arguments, presented to the court by Camden community members, were taken into consideration.

Camden Mayor Chris Patterson said he never doubted what the court’s decision would be. ``The commissioner said he based the decision on planning grounds like council did 12 months ago,’’ he said. ``I feel very happy that the council’s decision has been vindicated by the court. ``I never questioned the outcome because I always believed we’d done the right thing.’’

The council’s solicitor Chris Shaw welcomed the decision. ``Council’s original decision has been considered the correct decision based on the assessment of planning issues only,’’ he said. He said public interest issues had been given ``very little weight by the court, and that whether or not residents arguments against the school constituted racism was a matter for Camden’’.

Quranic Society expert planning adviser Jeremy Bingham said there was no case for further appeal as the finding was based on ``fact not law’’. ``The commissioner found against the school on one very specific and limited ground which was that the school was urban in character and therefore not in keeping with the existing rural character of the area which was the character of open grazing lands,’’ he said. ``One of the objectives of the zone was to allow development only if it is in keeping with the existing character. ``All of the other grounds raised by objectors were rejected. ``The society is very disappointed. It has put a lot of time and effort and a lot of money into this. It has been a long process.’’


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