Schools burst­ing at the seams

South Waikato News - - Out & About - DONNA-LEE BIDDLE

Waikato chil­dren are be­ing taught in hall­ways and staffrooms as schools strug­gle with too many kids.

And the prob­lem is get­ting worse: 67 of the re­gion’s schools are over of­fi­cial ca­pac­ity and 42 are at risk of be­ing over­crowded.

Te Wharekura o Te Kaokaoroa o Patetere in Pu­taruru, for in­stance, has 189 stu­dents, but only enough re­sources for 150. It is one of a grow­ing num­ber of schools strug­gling to stay afloat, ac­cord­ing to a gov­ern­ment re­port.

The kura’s prin­ci­pal, Keith Sil­veira, ex­pects the roll to grow to 200 by the end of the year.

Although there has been no dis­rup­tion to his stu­dents’ learn­ing, ev­ery space in the kura is utilised.

‘‘Even break-out spa­ces and teacher work­rooms are be­ing used,’’ Sil­veira said.

‘‘It means timeta­bles are ad­justed to en­sure the sports cen­tre and the sci­ence lab­o­ra­to­ries are utilised at all times.’’

Sil­veira said num­bers are boosted by fam­i­lies re­turn­ing from Aus­tralia and Auck­land. The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion has granted an ‘‘ex­pan­sion pack­age’’, so the kura will get more space in 2018.

The Min­istry re­port shows 214 schools around the coun­try were con­sid­ered over ca­pac­ity in 2015, while 488 were at risk of be­com­ing over­crowded.

The re­port found that the schools at great­est risk of over­crowd­ing did not have en­rol­ment schemes in place.

‘‘ Timeta­bles are ad­justed to en­sure the sports cen­tre and the sci­ence lab­o­ra­to­ries are utilised at all times.’’ Keith Sil­veira

One such school was Hamil­ton East School, on Daw­son Street, which was only zoned last year.

The school be­gan look­ing at zon­ing schemes to man­age the school’s grow­ing roll and safe­guard against over­crowd­ing.

Num­bers had steadily in­creased over the last five years, from 278 in 2010 to 406 as of April 2017.

But the Waikato schools strug­gling with over­crowd­ing are not a high pri­or­ity for the min­istry.

Pri­or­ity projects are Ro­to­tuna Ju­nior and Se­nior High and a new pri­mary school set to open in 2019 in Hamil­ton’s north­east.

Head of sec­tor en­able­ment and sup­port for the min­istry, Ka­t­rina Casey, said the re­port pro­vided a start­ing point for a con­ver­sa­tion with schools about what their needs are.


Te Wharekura o Te Kaokaoroa o Patetere prin­ci­pal Keith Sil­veira.

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