Plan to shake up school zoning
November 9. PPTA president Jack Boyle said PPTA favoured a “network” system where families would still have the choice of different kinds of schools within a regional “hub”.
“It might well be that across a geographical location [or ‘hub’] you can choose a boys’ school, a girls’ school, a co-ed school, an integrated school, a kura,” he said.
The proposal would imply massive restructuring in areas with the most intense competition. In Auckland, 18,053 students, or 28 per cent of all students at state secondary schools that have zones, came from out of zone in March this year.
Six Auckland state secondary schools draw more than half their students from outside their zones: Auckland Girls Grammar, Avondale College, Edgewater College, Onehunga High School, and Westlake
Girls and Boys High Schools.
Avondale College principal Brent Lewis slammed the proposal as “shallow thinking” because it did not take account of changing demographics which had reduced high-school-age students in Avondale’s zone in recent years, leaving it with surplus capacity.
“They are suggesting that schools with surplus capacity would be punished by having their funding per pupil diminished on average,” he said.
Onehunga High principal Deidre Shea said any such change would need to be phased in.
She said most of her 53 per cent of students coming from out of zone came from South Auckland, but the school was already reviewing those numbers because of a Ministry of Education decision to rebuild the school. The ministry already does not fund buildings for out-of-zone students, although it does provide staffing and operational funding based on total rolls.
Nationwide, the rolls of schools in the poorest 30 per cent of neighbourhoods have dropped from 187,379 in 1996 to 179,559 last year, while the rolls in the richest three deciles have ballooned from 199,341 to 296,650.
Pakuranga College principal Mike Williams who leads the Secondary Principals’ Association, said both the former National Government, with its “communities of learning”, and the current Labour-led Government wanted schools to compete less and co-operate more.
“The gap is widening between the haves and the have-nots, so something does need to change,” he said.