Schools' revolving door woes

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 20/06/2014
Lesley Elia
Lauren Priestley
WIDER ISSUE: Glenbrae School principal Lesley Elia says student transience is a Tamaki-wide concern.
Jonathan Hendricks
ROLL PROBLEMS: Glen Innes Primary principal Jonathan Hendricks says housing redevelopments have had a negative impact on his school.

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It's like a revolving door.

Pupils are constantly moving in and out of Tamaki schools, disrupting their studies and their classrooms.

A Child Poverty Action Group report released in May shows transience is a significant issue for low-decile Auckland schools, caused by a lack of affordable housing.

Principals in Glen Innes say housing redevelopments certainly contribute but are not the sole reason pupils move schools.

Kids started handing in their books when the Housing New Zealand (HNZ) Northern Glen Innes Redevelopment Project began. Most of the 156 state homes affected are no longer tenanted.

Glenbrae School principal Lesley Elia says it's a constant struggle. About 30 per cent of students enrolled this year were at Glenbrae previously and moved to another school in the interim, Elia says.

"You walk around here and there's houses missing where families had children coming here.

"Transience is still a big issue, it's an ongoing issue, but until they sort out poverty it's not going away."

Some families who move away still bring their children to Glenbrae because they have a close bond with the school, she says.

The supportive school community includes sports groups, the Tamaki Redevelopment Company and St Ignatius Parish, who donate food and beds to families.

"It's a strange mix of long-term ties and ongoing transience, because of a whole lot of social and economic reasons," Elia says.

Glen Innes Primary principal Jonathan Hendricks says the HNZ redevelopment negatively affected his school from the get-go.

There was a shortfall of 17 students from the anticipated roll this year, meaning one teaching position is being funded by the school.

"Transience is not the issue here as we are not having families pass through and return, rather we are seeming to lose families - unfortunately permanently it seems."

Tamaki Primary School principal Rhonda Kelly says her roll is steady.

"Anything that we were expecting as far as housing hasn't come this way yet.

"Others, like Glen Taylor or Glenbrae, have been affected a lot more than us."

Child poverty group chief researcher Donna Wynd says student transience is an ongoing, serious issue. Youngsters who switch schools often lag behind their peers, Wynd says.

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Disruption and new school systems can make it difficult to adjust and a lot of transient students become withdrawn or act out, she says.

"The schools do their best, I take my hat off to them, but it's a really hard issue."

HNZ spokesperson Bryony Hilless says any redevelopment that affects tenants is always dealt with carefully. The tenant liaison team works one-on-one with each household to discuss plans and housing options.

Schooling, house size, suburb, medical services and other specific housing needs are looked at, she says.

"Once we have all this information we only match tenants to properties that meet their needs.

"Of the tenants that have moved so far in the Northern Glen Innes Redevelopment project area, more than two thirds have remained living in HNZ homes in Tamaki.

"Where tenants have chosen to move outside the Tamaki area, this has been a decision they have made."

- East And Bays Courier

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