East Christchurch schools to zone following unexpected post-quake growth

Seven Christchurch primary schools will institute enrolment zones after experiencing record roll numbers.
JOHN BISSET/FAIRFAX NZ

Seven Christchurch primary schools will institute enrolment zones after experiencing record roll numbers.

Record roll growth has forced plans to institute enrolment zones at several east Christchurch primary schools.

Six schools – Linwood Avenue, Linwood North, Bromley, Bamford, Te Waka Unua, and Waltham – are developing zones, while Opawa School is reconfiguring theirs. Most are likely to be enforced by the end of the year.

The Ministry of Education said Aranui's Haeata Community Campus, which opened this year with 200 more children than expected, was "not at risk of overcrowding" and not required to implement a zone.

It added that Linwood Avenue, Linwood North and Bamford schools were not required to zone, although Stuff understood they would do so.

READ MORE:
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Quake migration prompts rethink of Christchurch school zones
South Wellington schools consider zoning to curb roll growth
Nelson's Hampden Street School reluctantly the first to zone
Manawatu families go extra distance to beat school zoning

Eastern schools had more than recovered from a post-quake drop in enrolments and now needed zones to ensure access for local children, principals said.

While some were impatient to finalise their zones, others were only in the early stages of drafting the area from which families would be accepted.

Waltham School principal Gordon Caddie said its zone could be in place as soon as next month.

The school lost "nearly a whole class" in the five months following the February 2011 earthquake but now had its largest ever roll of 236.

"It would be fair to say our growth is far bigger than we would have expected."

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Caddie believed the draft zone up for approval was unlikely to affect most of the school's families.

"It's that balancing act between parents wanting to have the choice of what schools they send their children to versus supporting local schools to take on local children." 

He said Waltham and Opawa schools had to be mindful of nearby schools, such as Hillview Christian School, which already had zones. It was understood the other five schools would implement their zones simultaneously.

Linwood North School principal Sandra Smith said its current cohort of 250 was 25 more than this time last year and a zone would allow its roll to grow to 400.

"We were hoping to have our part of the work done and forwarded to the ministry by the end of term. We're keen for it to go ahead to ensure that the children are going to their local school."

Conversations about zoning Linwood Avenue School had just begun, principal Blair Dravitski said.

The school's "strong" roll of 353 had been bolstered by families moving back to a "more desirable" Linwood, often from other parts of the country, and was in no hurry to institute a zone.

"At the moment probably half [our students] would be within the proposed zone and half would be outside that, and that's a common theme within other schools as well."

Bromley School principal Scot Kinley said east Christchurch was a fast-growing area with low-cost housing and "real heart".

The school, now at 373 pupils after a pre-quake high of 320, had put considerable thought into mapping out a zone.

"The implementation and all the implications that it has on the school's community – it's one of the most significant things I have had to deal with in the last five years."

Linwood College principal Richard Edmundson said there had been "no formal discussion" about zoning for the high school, but he could "quite easily see" a zone being implemented once Linwood's primary schoolers progressed to secondary.

Zoning was not perfect but was better than the alternatives: overcrowding and wasted taxpayer dollars, he said.

"Tomorrow's schools [legislation] has done significant harm to New Zealand education and society. We're now moving away from early 1990s thinking; instead of looking at the health of the school we're looking at the health of the network."

Bamford School and Opawa School did not respond to requests for comment. Te Waka Unua School declined to comment.

OUT OF ZONE

Each year school boards of trustees determine the number of places likely to be available for out-of-zone students the following year. Students are then selected in the following order of priority:

1. Those selected for special programmes run by the school;

2. Siblings of current students at the school;

3. Siblings of former students;

4. Children of former students;

5. Children of school or school board employees;

6. All other applicants.

Selection is by ballot if there are more applicants in the last five priority groups than places available

 - Stuff

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