Burnside High School has an excellent reputation in the Creative Arts, with a very high number of students participating in a broad programme of Music, Dance, Drama and Visual Arts. For many years, our students have achieved a remarkable level of success across all areas of the faculty. Creative Arts provides students with opportunities for academic success in the classroom and in a wide variety of extra curricular activities, performances and productions.  


Dance is a unique and exciting way of learning about culture and society. In dance you develop practical skills in a range of dance styles including: musical theatre, contemporary, hip hop, Jazz and other ethnic styles. Students are also given many opportunities to create their own dances and develop a range of choreographic tools. Dance is offered at all year levels and no previous experience is necessary.

Outside of the classroom students have the opportunity to participate in Showquest; a student run dance competition against other New Zealand schools. Burnside High School has a reputation for doing exceptionally well in this competition, and enters a Junior and Senior team. There are also a number of other performance opportunities including the annual Dance Showcase and a variety of dance clubs.


At Burnside High School, Drama is offered as an option from Year 9 to year 13 and is delivered by a team of dedicated teachers who are passionate about the subject.  Regardless of year level, our key aim is to help develop students into confident, articulate and creative individuals, who will be an asset to society when they leave school.

The course content covers a wide variety of topics, designed to appeal to each age group. Through the practical exploration of ideas students work cooperatively in groups, innovatively creating work which has the power to communicate strong ideas and messages.

On a daily basis students’ self-esteem and self-awareness grow as they problem-solve together, setting their own goals and managing time to ensure successful completion of each task. They explore different cultures and societies, time periods and human experiences whilst having a lot of fun at the same time.


Renowned as one of the best performance music schools in Australasia, Burnside High School has produced a number of musicians who have gone on to perform on the international stage. These musicians developed and honed their abilities at school with the support and encouragement of the staff in the Music Department. The Music Department at Burnside High School provides many opportunities for students to perform at a regional and national level and has a culture which develops naturally talented musicians aged 13 into confident performers at age 18.

The range of courses on offer within the Music Department curriculum is second to none and includes specialist courses in Music Technology and Contemporary Music in the senior school and a unique Performance Music programme in the junior school.

For exceptionally talented musicians who wish to make Music their main co-curricular focus at high school the Specialist Music Programme offers a unique extension programme of masterclasses, chamber music, solo recitals and collaborative projects. Entry to this programme is available at all levels by audition only. Find out more here.

Visual Arts

Burnside High School is well regarded, both nationally and internationally, as one of the leading schools in New Zealand for Art education. High levels of success are well established with many students each year gaining scholarship awards and continuing to study Art at tertiary level. The art department is large and vibrant, allowing for specialist classes in each of the five traditional art disciplines: Sculpture, Photography, Painting, Printmaking and Design. Additionally, we also offer Art History which complements visual arts practice. Each area is taught by specialists who are leaders in art education in New Zealand.

Art education enables students to consider the visual world; to question how they look at it and find meaning within it. The main purpose of making art is to communicate ideas visually, and students are encouraged to base their work upon their own personal interests and experience.

Guest artists frequently visit to share their knowledge with students, and various workshops and tutorials are run in addition to normal classes. Students are encouraged to exhibit their work around the school and in local gallery spaces. Burnside High School is also fortunate to have a significant collection of art work by prominent artists.