College to get gym makeover and more
Parata heartened by exam results
Aotea College’s revamp begins this year, with multimillion-dollar upgrades to its gymnasium and auditorium first in line.
Principal Kate Gainsford has been pushing hard for upgrades since her appointment in 2012.
Since Aotea College opened in 1978, not many of the classrooms and key buildings, such as the auditorium (Te Manawa) and the gym had had any work done on them, she said.
The administration block was upgraded in 2009.
Ms Gainsford said she was delighted to have a ‘‘ master plan’’ for upgrading the school signed off by the Ministry of Education last year.
‘‘ It’s hugely exciting,’’ she said. ‘‘Starting with the gym and auditorium is important because they are the two ends of the school that interface with the community most.’’
The tired and small gym could be turned into two bigger gyms, complete with parking.
Te Manawa would similarly be completely overhauled, Ms Gainsford said.
The work will cost $5 million to $10m and demolition work – which could include classrooms nearby – will start this year, carried out by building firm Opus.
Ms Gainsford said one gym would probably have a international- sized basketball court and seating.
Part of the cost of Te Manawa could be covered by Porirua City Council. Negotiations are ongoing about a partnership to create a performing arts centre, she said.
The aesthetic improvements to the school – which has a roll of 952 and is projected to keep climbing – were long overdue, Ms Gainsford said.
An overall plan for the rest of the school is in the works, with every block to be assessed.
‘‘I don’t think many of these buildings have ever been upgraded. We have engaged with our school community and the feedback is so positive and now the plans are being worked through.
‘‘We have an absolutely fabulous spot here and bags of room to redevelop, but it’s important we get it all done in the right context for the school.’’
Ms Gainsford said she hoped the city council’s roading review of Whitford Brown Ave would lead to the pedestrian crossing opposite the school being repositioned. She also wanted school buses to drop off and pick up in Okowai Rd, rather than coming up the school drive.
Ms Gainsford said Aotea’s provisional 2013 NCEA results were heartening, and were above average for a school in the decile 4 to 7 range. Education Minister Hekia Parata said the number of students who passed NCEA level 2 in New Zealand improved in 2013.
Provisional results show 76.8 per cent of school leavers passed at least level 2, compared with 74.3 per cent in 2012.
It was an overall increase of 10 per cent since 2008, the Manabased MP said. Maori and Pacific student rates were up 4 and 7 per cent, respectively.
‘‘These results are outstanding and reflect the great work being done in our schools to raise student achievement,’’ Ms Parata said.
‘‘It is particularly pleasing that this also reflects a lift in the quality of qualification since unit standards were replaced by achievement standards in 2009.’’
She said National remained focused on its target of 85 per cent of 18 year olds achieving NCEA level 2 or an equivalent qualification by 2017.