Burnside denies poaching pupils

TINA LAW
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2013

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Schools in Christchurch's west need to stop enrolling so many pupils from struggling schools in the east, an Aranui principal says.

Aranui High School principal John Rohs is even calling on the Ministry of Education to intervene before rolls in the east fall even further.

More young people from the east were travelling further afield to go to high school, he said.

While this happened before the quake, it had been more common since as schools across the city looked to recoup numbers, Rohs said.

"We have to continue to work with the ministry to reach a point of agreement where schools on the western side of the city do not continue to cream off the school population on this side of town."

Schools were justifying their moves by saying they were being good employers by looking after their staff, Rohs said.

"That argument I find particularly vexing, simply because it's not a fair argument. Everybody wants to be a good employer. If being a good employer means another school really suffers, something is wrong with that argument."

The issue has created a "degree of friction" among principals in the city, he said.

Aranui High School's roll has dropped from 650 before the quakes to just under 500.

Ministry figures released to The Press under the Official Information Act show three state co-educational schools in the city's west have increased the number of out-of-zone pupils since 2009. They deny deliberately poaching pupils from the east.

The figures show Burnside High School had 125 out-of-zone pupils in 2009, or 5 per cent of its roll, and last year it had 423 (17 per cent).

But Burnside High School principal Warwick Maguire said the ministry figures were wrong. He said the school consistently enrolled about 20 to 25 per cent of its pupils from out-of-zone each year and was trying to reduce its out-of-zone numbers, not increase them.

The school, which has a roll of 2600 pupils, could have taken a lot more out-of-zone pupils than it did this year, Maguire said.

It had 750 out-of-zone pupils take part in the ballot to start at year 9 this year and the school took about 480, which was fewer than last year.

"If we took all the people that wanted to come here we would be 3000-plus and that would have a bad effect on other schools."

He said there was no evidence the school was actively recruiting from the east.

Riccarton High School principal Phil Holstein said most of the out-of-zone pupils enrolled at the school lived in the immediate area surrounding the zone.

Canterbury-Westland Secondary Principals' Association chairman Neil Wilkinson said schools taking out-of-zone pupils had been an issue for some time but the quakes had exacerbated the situation.

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The association was working with principals to look at possible solutions.

The ministry was unavailable to comment.

- The Press

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