Our students achieve excellent results in National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). They regularly win scholarships, as well as local, regional, national and international competitions. Our staff have high standards for themselves and high expectations of the students in their care.

At Burnside High School, we place an emphasis on individuals, and on achievement.

Our aim is to have each student leave the school with qualifications that will enable them to enter the world of work and/or tertiary study successfully. All students are expected to develop career plans linked to their studies and qualifications.

Our Mission

To provide a safe, positive inclusive learning environment where students attain the knowledge, skills and persona qualities to choose the right pathway in life.

Learning Areas >
Six Burnside High School students reading books on beanbags in a library

English at Burnside High School involves both literature and language studies. Students are encouraged to appreciate and enjoy texts in all their forms: novels, poetry, plays and film. Developing reading, writing and communication skills is fundamental to each course of study. There are a range of courses available to enable every student to reach his or her potential in English, and, in doing so, prepare them to make a positive contribution to our global society.

There is the option to study media in the senior school. Media Studies is a contemporary subject that is a blend of theory and creative expression. Students gain a sound foundation in the concepts and theories of media studies and also design and produce media products. Students who need extra support in learning English are catered for with a range of English as a Second Language courses which are designed for them to become independent and confident users of the English language.

Student holding a pen and black calculator at a desk with maths books and pencil case

The Burnside High School Mathematics department has been one of the leading Mathematics departments nationally for the past 25 years. Over that period students have achieved high levels of success in both national assessments and national and international competitions.

Each year the number of scholarships gained by our students places us in the top 5 schools in the country. Large numbers of our students continue on to study Mathematics, or related subjects such as Engineering or Physics, at tertiary level.

The Mathematics department is large, well resourced, and staffed by an enthusiastic and experienced group of teachers. To meet the needs and abilities of our students a variety of different courses are taught at the various year levels. In addition to NCEA the Cambridge International Examination curriculum is taught to the more able students in Years 11 to 13. Students are encouraged to enter competitions at the local, national and international level. At the very highest level 11 Burnside High School students have been selected to represent New Zealand at the International Mathematics Olympiad in the past 20 years.

In Social Sciences students are able to participate as critical, active, informed and responsible citizens. Students will have an understanding of their place in society and how they can have an impact on our world. They will be able to identify, value and understand people’s values, viewpoints and perspectives. Burnside High School students will understand that decisions that are made by individuals, groups, communities and nations can have various effects on others in our world. Students will have an understanding of the bicultural nature of our society from exploring Ti Tiriti o Waitangi. Learning about past events, experiences and actions will help students understand why we have the society that we have. Students will actively explore contemporary issues which will help them understand the ever changing world we live in. The concepts explored in Social Studies explicitly link through to senior Social Science subjects. Social Studies is compulsory in Years 9 and 10 and students are able to choose Geography, History, Economics, Accounting, Business Studies, Classical Studies, Legal Studies and Tourism in the senior school.

Students will develop strategies which enable them to actively seek, use and create knowledge beyond the school environment. Skills taught throughout the Social Sciences programmes will help Burnside High School students to process, analyse, critically evaluate and clearly communicate information. The Social Sciences provides students with the opportunities to have active experiences in the real world through field trips, research and social action. Active teaching strategies focus on engaging and motivating students to achieve to the best of their ability, strive for excellence and to enjoy the love of learning.

four science students and teacher with safety glasses and test tubes in a science lab

Science allows us to understand the world around us, to marvel at and investigate everything from the very small to the very large. At Burnside High School all students study general Science until the end of Year 11 covering all the different fields of Science: Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Planet Earth and Beyond, as well as gaining an understanding of how Scientists work and the skills needed to be successful in Scientific fields. Once students reach Year 12 they can specialise in any of the following areas: Biology, Chemistry, Physics or continue with General Science. The senior Science subjects are very popular at Burnside High School with a large number of our students continuing on to study Science at University and pursue scientific careers.

All of our courses offer a balance of theoretical and practical work with trips to local universities and field work where possible to support the content learned in class. Outside of the classroom, there are also local and international competitions students can enter at all levels to test their skills against other students.

two chefs preparing food in a large kitchen

The Technology Faculty encompasses a wide range of subjects that all involve theoretical and practical activities of varying forms. 

In the Digital Technologies and Electronics Department students can learn a wide variety of outcomes using both digital and materials tools. There are a number of subjects available at junior and senior levels that include Software Engineering and Computer Science, Electronic Engineering Product and Game Design. Students learn the fundamentals of electronics, programming, 2d and 3d modelling, and then at senior level refine these skills to develop a outcome either individually or as teams.

Within the Foods and Textiles department there are also a variety of options. Food Technology looks at the technical components developing foods outcomes. In Food and Nutrition, students learn the value of eating a well-balanced diet and the role of food in our general well-being. In early Childhood Studies, students focus on the development of young children, the different roles within the family group and how youngsters learn. The focus in the Hospitality subjects is the preparation and presentation of food suitable for a commercial environment. This may include table service along with coffee preparation and service.  In Textiles Technology the students learn the basics of constructing items using fabric and the sewing machine, before they move onto understanding how garments are designed and made.  

In Materials Technology and DVC students work with a combination of wood, metal and plastic to create a useable item. In the senior school, students might choose to work in more specialist classes such as Building and Construction or Engineering Skills for their projects. Design and Visual Communication is a subject that involves drawing and promotion of ideas when designing products or aspects of buildings. The drawing is done by hand and then using a CAD program on the computer.



In Senior Health and Physical Education we offer several courses across the levels, which build on the Junior curriculum.  The Academic Physical Education and Health – courses meet the New Zealand qualification requirements, they are fully engaging and challenging. Students are given the opportunity to excel in both the practical and theoretical components of the courses. Academically through research and knowledge application of aspects such as anatomy, biomechanics, programme development. Physically via diverse activities such as a Duathlon and a Ski trip to Mount Lyford in Year 12 Physical Education and Rock Climbing and Golf in Year 13. Senior Health offers a range of current topics to be studied where students have the opportunity to select their topic for assessment that best suits them and their interests.


Physical Education and Health is compulsory in both Year 9 and 10, where there is a strong emphasis on developing practical and interpersonal skills.  In Junior Physical Education classes the key concepts are developed in and through physical activity. In The Junior Health curriculum these concepts are developed through engaging the students in relevant discussions and letting them question and understand their outlook on relevant issues.

hands holding two small german flags

Burnside High School offers Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Spanish and Te Reo Maori. In Year 9 all students will take at least a half year of a language of their choice although if a student wants to continue with a language into Year 10 and up they must take a full year option at Year 9. 

Each year the languages department have several events, including International Languages Week and a Mardi Gras with food and music from different cultures. 

Every second year the senior Japanese students have the opportunity to travel to our sister school in Imakane, Japan for 2 weeks and stay with a local Japanese family.

Throughout the year there are often International students on exchange or studying short term at Burnside High School and these students often get involved with helping in our language classrooms, giving students the opportunity to talk with and listen to a native speaker.

Creativity has become the number one attribute needed in our ever-changing world. Fundamentally it allows students the opportunity to develop an openness to new experiences that promote personal drive and grit. Within the Creative Arts Faculty students can study in the areas of Music, Visual Arts, Dance and Drama, with more specialist areas available in senior school.
At Burnside High School, we are fortunate to have some of the most respected Creative Arts teachers in New Zealand who share their passion for their subjects with each student they encounter. For over 25 years, the Creative Arts Faculty has been at the forefront of achievement nationally and internationally and continues to solidify this reputation each year, with multiple awards and  Scholarships consistently being achieved and awarded.