MAGS looks to future

GROWING ROLL: Mt Albert Grammar headmaster Dale Burden is welcoming more students to his school each year.
GROWING ROLL: Mt Albert Grammar headmaster Dale Burden is welcoming more students to his school each year.

Rocketing demand has seen a central Auckland high school receive a funding boost.

Mt Albert Grammar headmaster Dale Burden says the school is so popular parents of toddlers are buying houses in the area now to lock in a spot in the school zone.

"A lot of families I've been made aware of have got kids aged three and four and are looking at Balmoral School for primary and intermediate and MAGS for high school," he says.

"So they are biting the real estate bullet and coming in. Then they don't have to move, they've got the whole package at once."

With a roll of 2700 students Mt Albert Grammar is the second largest high school in the region, behind Rangitoto College.

Mr Burden says in the eight years he has been at the decile 7 school there has been substantial roll growth and a shift in the ratio of out-of-zone students accepted.

"When I first arrived about 60 per cent of our students would have been in-zone, now there is about 83 per cent in-zone," he says.

"So we are taking more students overall, but a greater proportion of them are in-zone."

As a result of the roll growth the Ministry of Education has signed off on funding for the equivalent of 19 new classrooms, estimated to cost between $5 million and $10m.

Mr Burden says a portion of the money will be used for building new classrooms and the maths, performing arts, technology and science departments will also benefit.

The school will introduce more modern learning environments - spaces that differ from the traditional classroom.

"It's a classroom that's a bit more flexible," Mr Burden says. "We know more about learning than we ever have before.

"We know that a teacher standing at the front of the room just talking, or having kids write things off the board, that's not the only way to do it anymore."

Modern learning environments are larger, well-lit rooms that incorporate a variety of furniture which allow students to work in groups while the teacher acts as a guide.

There are no designs for the new facilities yet but it is hoped the construction will begin in March 2014.

Mr Burden says that phase will probably take the school to 2015, but then it will need to look at more construction.

"The ministry is being a bit more strategic these days so they can see the bulge coming through from primaries and intermediates," he says.

Central Leader