24 Jan 2020

Schools across the country brace for unexpected enrolments

12:04 pm on 24 January 2020

Schools are bracing themselves for roll growth and last-minute enrolments as they prepare to reopen from Monday next week.

High school students

Apart from Auckland, the other area that is seeing an increase in students in Tauranga. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Manurewa South School principal Tone Kolose said he had enough staff to cover the first day back, but there were already signs he would soonneed to hire more teachers.

"I've just had the office lady come and see me to say that our new entrant roll is hitting 13 at the moment and so we may need to open up another class," he said.

"I'm a bit nervous about that and know that that's something that I'll have to get on to straight away."

Randwick Park School principal Karen McMurray said it would take about a month before she knew how many students were starting the year at her school because many families did not alert the school that they were moving into or out of the area.

"Our parents don't tend to pre-enrol," she said.

"On average we usually have 70 students enrol that we probably don't know about. What's happened in the past is that a similar number have moved to other areas of the North Island or over to Australia, so usually, it balances out, but it's just a wait-and-see game."

McMurray said in recent years the unannounced enrolments had not forced her to hire extra teachers, but she had had to rearrange classes to fit particularly large year groupings.

Auckland Primary Principals' Association president Heath McNeil said it was hard for the city's schools to predict how many children would start the year because there had been so much growth in the population of school-aged children.

"Lots of schools will be doing lots of enrolments over the next couple of weeks that they weren't expecting," he said.

McNeil said his school, Ormiston Primary, would reopen next week with about 80 new students, but he was only now finding out about families who had moved into the area and wanted to enrol their children.

"Tomorrow I've got another 10 family meetings that will generate probably another 13 or 14 new learners across our school, not just new entrants."

He said in the past schools would add new classes for five-year-olds about half-way through the year, but in recent times Auckland schools had to do that right from day one of term one.

Roll growth had also been strong in other areas, including Tauranga, where Omokoroa Point School principal Vicki Knell said her school had finally got ahead of very rapid growth.

"This year we're in the enviable position of having three brand new classrooms to move into, which is fantastic," she said.

"It took us three years to get this position ... teaching in cloak bays and libraries and multi-purpose spaces ... but this year we move into our brand new classes. So for the first year in five years we're actually going to have extra space. We'll get our library back, which will be wonderful.

Knell said she expected roll growth would eventually prompt her to hire one more teacher but that would be later in the year.

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