Great Barrier Island…on the topic of Long Programmes


Great Barrier Island Centre Manager Gemma Parkin (pictured right) answers some of the common questions about Long Programmes…

Hello form Great Barrier Island! After a busy summer the GBI team are now in full swing with the delivery of 5 week outdoors based, cross curricular programmes more commonly referred to as ‘Long Programmes’. These programmes often draw great interest from schools throughout New Zealand as the value for the students involved is easy to see. However, schools often ask:

  • Don’t students miss a lot of school work by being away for 5 weeks?
  • Aren’t long programmes just for high decile schools?

So we thought we’d take this opportunity to explain how some of the schools currently involved manage these potential obstacles.

Won’t they miss lots of school work?

Hillary Outdoors_outdoor education programmeGreat Barrier Island provides the perfect location for our marine oriented centre; its amazing untouched beaches, coastline and native forest make it an unforgettable classroom. And that’s exactly how we think of it, as an amazing classroom. Each school selects the areas of the wider curriculum they would like their students to focus on, the Hillary Outdoors team then add in their local knowledge and outdoor skills to turn these into practical sessions. The aim is for students to experience the same learning the would receive if they were at school, but through practical, memorable experiences.

Are all long programmes for 5 weeks in duration?

We call any programme that is longer than a standard 5 day programme a long programme. This means that even a two week programme is classified as a long programme as it is bound to deliver even richer outdoor learning experiences because it gives students more opportunity to immerse themselves in the new environment and challenge themselves.

Aren’t long programmes just for high decile schools?

Hillary Outdoors_Long programmeIt is often thought that long programmes are designed for high decile schools but this is not the case. Currently three very different schools participate in our long programmes ranging from decile 5 to 8. All schools find ways of keeping the price down through initiatives like local sponsorship, school scholarships and of course student fundraising. This can be done as a group or individually with successful examples being: car washes, hangis, fundraising runs or mountain climbs and sausage sizzles. It’s not uncommon for committed students to pay for their whole programme without any financial support from their family.

In each case the key is to select students early, each of our current schools gives students about 10 months warning to allow time for fundraising to occur.

Think of fundraising as another learning experience in this journey, with each student developing valuable skills as part of this process. Our instructors also find that the students who fundraise themselves want to make the most out of the opportunity and really give 110% during their time here.

Hillary Outdoors Education CentresIn case you missed the Seven Sharp items last year – take a look at these videos that give you a bit of insight into when the boys from Hillcrest visited GBI for a long programme last year…

Seven Sharp – feature on long programmes part 1

Seven Sharp – feature on long programmes part 2

If you would like to discuss the possibility of a long programme for your school in either of our Centres, get in touch with Tony or download this brochure.