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Grades in Sec School Champs

Show Profile  lyns Posted: 5 August 2014, 7:01 PM  
taupoite suggests that " Schools will enrol the children in the top grades, no matter what the entry form says." I saw this expressed on an earlier thread also. I'm not sure its not a red herring though. First, a lot of schools in Auckland now at least do have a parent who is also an orienteer involved in the teams. SEcond 9and mainly) its a matter of education. Do the schools send kids who can't swim along to the National swimming champs and then complain when they drown and argue the event should be held in a paddling pool? It goes back to that matter of is the NZSS promoting orienteering as a competitive sport or is it more of a giant "have a go" day?

I myself (as an orienteer myself now involved in promoting the sport in a large urban state coed that worships rowing and rugby)think that the temptation to put unprepared kids out on championship courses exists NOW and is actually exacerbated by the too easy junior grades. Kids can go out in Yr 9 and run a very easy yellow and a white relay. Think they have it sussed. Do no more orienteering, then insist on entering championship and crash on orange the next year.

Perhaps if there were higher grades, a decent lead up series and clear criteria of experience in the entry info, with the school having to sign it off, it would be easier to get kids to do more O to get ready because they would see the need for it.

Show Profile  Taupoite Posted: 5 August 2014, 8:40 PM  
Look at the results of those who have slow times in the championship grades at SS Champs, then look at what courses if any, they do at club events. It is just data matching.
If you have an elite grade at the SS Champs, (which is effectively what people are recommending) then it needs to have some enforcable qualification requirement. Don't rely on school signoff - many of them have very little idea, if any, of the competitors' skills.

Show Profile  lyns Posted: 5 August 2014, 8:50 PM  
Sorry - unclear what I am looking for in the data matching or why I am looking for it?

I know kids have gone out on courses they were unprepared for. I'm just not convinced that is a reason for retaining the current grading system. Au contraire, in fact.

Show Profile  Jane H Posted: 5 August 2014, 9:17 PM  
Below is the first item of NZSS Sports Council's strategic plan (copied from their website)

1. Participation & Coordination:

To coordinate quality sport provision, ensuring opportunity to increase the participation level of all secondary school students in sport
1.1 To coordinate a programme of secondary school sporting opportunities that ensure positive experiences for athletes and meet the varied needs of students, schools and sports organisations and to monitor the quality of these events.
1.1.1 Coordinate a quality programme of sports opportunities for secondary school students that will encourage them to be involved at their level of ability and interest.

Show Profile  Jane H Posted: 5 August 2014, 9:33 PM  
We needn't worry about meeting any requirements of the International Sport Federation as they are only about promoting good global relationships using sporting events for school-aged teenagers.

Copied from their website...

"The major concern and responsibility of the ISF is education in and through sport".

Show Profile  Taupoite Posted: 5 August 2014, 9:37 PM  
Look at the results of those who have slow times in the championship grades at SS Champs, then look at what courses if any, they do at club events. It is just data matching.
If you have an elite grade at the SS Champs, (which is effectively what people are recommending) then it needs to have some enforcable qualification requirement. Don't rely on school signoff - many of them have very little idea, if any, of the competitors' skills.

Show Profile  Jane H Posted: 5 August 2014, 10:17 PM  
Reviewing things then...
ONZ is meeting the NZSSSC's desire to "meet the varied needs of students" ok by offering white to red courses at each NZSS Champs.
But, in my opinion, ONZ is not fully co-operating with NZSSSC's strategic plan "to encourage students to be involved at their level of ability and interest".

Is it important? I think so (on principle). If we want the NZSS O-Champs to remain a NZSSSC-sanctioned event we should work towards meeting their aims.

Show Profile  MikeB Posted: 5 August 2014, 10:34 PM  
Taupoite I don't think anyone is recommending there should be elite grades, more that students should compete to the level of the their ability at whatever age grade they're at. Experienced students run champs and less experienced non champ or standard whatever you wish to call it. It's pure and simple.

Schools just need to be told to toe the line re wishing to have kids run champs when they're not up to it. Then we meet the requirements of the NZSS sport's Council Strategic Plan, Jane is talking about, with "the involvement at their level and ability".

And I agree with Lyn school grades should match up with club grades. Then there is no need for anyone to run out of grade unless they are incredibly talented and we do have a few of those.

Show Profile  Taupoite Posted: 6 August 2014, 7:25 PM  
If they run the same grades as in the National Champs, that means championship seniors do long red, with Standard doing Orange, Intermediate do short Red and Orange, juniors do Orange and yellow and Y7/8 do yellow and white. Relays would be orange , orange, yellow and white respectively.
There is little change for the seniors but it is a big difference for the Intermediates and juniors. This is where the big numbers are and where clubs hope to hook the children (and their parents) into the sport. How many of those 13-16 year olds will step up from the grades they are currently running? It is very likely that we will lose almost all the Standard grade numbers in those age groups. If they could do the current championship classes, they would. If there is no C Class competition, this means the number of girls competing would near halve. Even with a C Grade, the relays would be harder than their individual class.
So the changes suggested would be either we have an A,B,C grade competition of which Cs can't do the relay or a lot smaller, more focused A & B competition. The latter may be closer to what is needed to be a true Championship like they have for say swimming or triathlons, but it will lead to a lot less children doing orienteering.
NZOF needs to decide what it sees the purpose of the Championships are. Are they a high level sports competition or a mass participation sport? It can't be both. From that decision would flow whether the current model is tweaked or a radical redesign is needed.

Show Profile  lyns Posted: 6 August 2014, 7:59 PM  
That is indeed the question.

My own view is that running the champs at a relatively low level to attract more entries was a good idea when numbers were very low but one whose time has passed. As we now have so many more kids interested in orienteering we should concentrate on them doing a greater number of introductory and then mid level events closer to home, and make the Champs more just that.

I think we do the development and image of the sport a disservice (and in fact encourage the very thing concern has been expressed about, which is kids going out underprepared) by presenting our sport as one in which a kid with no real experience can turn up and compete at the National Champs. Other sports don't do that and neither should orienteering.

To be blunt, I don't think 13/14 year olds dashing around a white forest course in 12 minutes is appropriate for a National Championship.

If that means not having 68 runners in IGC but more doing club events with the aim of becoming good enough for Nationals, is that a bad thing?

Show Profile  Taupoite Posted: 6 August 2014, 8:42 PM  
Putting on my organiser's hat, it would be a lot easier to run a lot smaller event where people were used to the registration setup etc. It would also open it up for Smaller clubs to run. However, dropping numbers make the relays less viable as the three runners of the same sex and class is harder to attain.
It is different in Auckland and the Hawkes Bay, but for many kids, there is no regular club competition. Even very strong schools often rely on just one person to organise the children. When that person leaves, the sport folds at that school. Think Putaruru and Mike Grayburn. If we make the SS Champs too elitist, we make it very susceptible to collapse because they don't have the numbers of competitors (and their parents) at those schools each year to sustain it. The SS Champs has to encompass a lot more than just the ten big schools.
I think Greg had a very good point. If the numbers are so much higher at the SS Champs than for the Nationals, even though there is C Grade at the latter, why are we changing the former? I do know from when I ran the CD SS Champs a couple of times that Piopio had a very strong competitive team over many years. But they never went to even the NI SS Champs, even though at least one year, they were on the same map. I don't know why that was.
My daughter had a two nights away trip to the National SS Cross-country Champs in ChCh for less than 20 minutes running, so "value for money concerns" are present in other sports. At least for orienteering, there were three separate races they compete in.

Show Profile  MikeB Posted: 6 August 2014, 9:23 PM  
I think we're talking about different issues here. This is not about making it elitist. When I say changing to the same as club levels I'm only talking about colour levels I'm not talking about changing courses times to club nationals level, which are longer.

Course time lengths are already set by ONZ for NZSS and NISS and we based AKSS on those this year as well. I have no problems with them at all. Senior boys and girls are somewhere around the 45-50 min mark, maybe a bit shorter. Intermediates 35-40, junior about 30 and yr 7/8's 25. That's all good. What I'm saying and have said all along it's the colour coding of the grades we need to sort out, so seniors run red, Inters run an orange /red, juniors orange and yr 7/8 yellow same as club. Std grades run orange down to white with course winning times based on champ times but the course lengths would be shorter to accommodate their skill and speed levels.

This also makes it easier for the selectors because the juniors are running at the level they are going to be competing at in Aussie.

You then end up with a better spread of runners across champs and std all running on courses appropriate to their skill levels At present the champs courses are completely top heavy with kids who shouldn't be there.

Show Profile  addison Posted: 7 August 2014, 8:22 AM  
A very interesting discussion - fantastic to have so many people contributing and discussing ideas.

I wish to add a bit of history to this discussion. 2003 was the first official year we were allowed back to Australia as part of the Southern Cross Challenge. Prior to this we used to really only compete with them in the ANZ Challenge where we would all generally be a difficulty level below Australia, as at this stage there was no M/W10 grade and M/W16 was orange not red. It was about 2002 that this was changed, to try to help level our Juniors against Australia. This is probably one of the biggest success factors that we are now seeing the fruits of.

But at this stage there was no Year 7/8 competition and we still needed an opportunity to have a pathway for people to come into our sport through schools and not be put off immediately by it being too hard. If you take yourself out of Auckland, Hawke's Bay and to a lesser extent Christchurch and Wellington, you find that many kids that come to the schools events are pretty fresh. I think Taupoite is wearing his controllers hat very well because he has organised many school events and you see some horifically lost kids at these events and large time spreads.

But we still need to set courses that are fair to the difficulty setting and that is sometimes where we fall a bit short.

But discussing further about pathways, we have now established it as a requirement to run a Year 7&8 competition as part of the schools champs. With time we are seeing significant growth in this grade, however if you look at the stats on how many people that then compete in the Junior Grade that have competed in Year 7&8 you find it is not the majority. Generally it is actually from areas which have stronger junior programs so it makes the problem worse for those from outside the main areas.

The topic is complex mainly because we are currently using this as our main trials for the Australian Schools Team. But this is our National Championships for everyone, not the trial event and then everyone else just comes and competes. The event will always be set up in a way which suits everyone. In our strategic plan process it was identified that there was an underlying sentiment from those on the fringe of our sport of "eliteism" which turns many off - we have to be mindful of this and work strongly to ensure we continue to be a sport for all.

In addition around making additional beauocracy in terms of checking people, one only needs to look at how hard it is to run these events as smaller clubs. It is unfair to expect these clubs to do this process. In a similar way, look at the number of volunteer vacancies we have at a national level. The harsh reality is we want to keep our systems simple and make everything as easy as we can for organisers, participants and teachers/coaches/managers to understand.

If you look at the number of people competing at JWOC who have come into the sport through our schools system - and are doing very well - one would say it isn't really broken. So what we need to work on is refinement and how to get stronger numbers from all regions.

Keep the discussion going, it is great to see

Show Profile  addison Posted: 7 August 2014, 8:35 AM  
In addition to this I have had discussions with Australia to better understand their grade structures and to look into options such as three grades. This would make selecting a lot easier!

Show Profile  comatose Posted: 7 August 2014, 9:57 AM  
If the object of the NZSS Champs is to provide a chance to orienteer for everyone, regardless of ability, then yes, it probably needs to stay with the simpler courses for each grade level. A "Sport for all" approach.

So then, selecting representative teams to compete in international competitions might be better done based on results from other events where the kids are running appropriate levels of difficulty. This could be NZOF Champs, A grade regional events, etc. Most kids at that level, even if they came to the sport through school, will by then also belong to O clubs and be part of the Club/NZOF pathway. (Current JWOC representatives have not just done NZSS schools events, they compete in many events around the country through their clubs, which they all belong to.) The NZSS results could just be part of the "all known form" equation.

This is most problematic for the World Schools Team competition, which presumably depends on the top school points from something like the NZSS Champs. But only large schools/strong provinces have a chance at that anyway, it is irrelevant to ~90% of the schools at NZSSC at present as they do not have numbers to be competitive.

Simon, are the Australian schools teams selected through a school-based competition, or through club-based events?

And what are the chances of adding a M/W14 grade to the ANZ challenge, to provide the Junior level orienteers with additional representative opportunities?

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