School rolls: Who’s up and who’s down

Stat­sNz says it’s be­cause re­gion’s make-up changed

Rotorua Daily Post - - Front Page - Cira Olivier con­tin­ued on A2

The to­tal num­ber of stu­dents in Ro­torua schools has dropped de­spite the district’s grow­ing pop­u­la­tion, ac­cord­ing to pro­vi­sional school roll data.

Of the 45 schools in the Ro­torua District, 23 had a pro­vi­sional roll lower than last year. The num­ber of stu­dents across all schools had dropped by 149.

The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion has re­leased pro­vi­sional roll data for Ro­torua schools in 2020. The num­bers are an es­ti­mate.

The district’s pop­u­la­tion has steadily in­creased, reach­ing an es­ti­mated 75,100 in June last year.

A shift in the make-up of the district’s pop­u­la­tion might ex­plain the trend, with Stat­sNz es­ti­mat­ing the num­ber of 5 to 9-year-olds had dropped from 5830 to 5670 from the year end­ing June 2018 to 2019.

The num­ber of 10- to 14-year-olds had in­creased from 5520 to 5690, and 15- to 19-year-olds had re­mained the same.

Ao­rangi Pri­mary School’s roll dropped by 16 pupils to an es­ti­mate of 135 for 2020.

Prin­ci­pal De­bra Har­rod said there were no­tice­ably fewer 5-year-olds com­ing through.

She said the tran­sient na­ture of the Puke­hangi area could play a part in the drop. The over­all drop in the num­ber of Ro­torua school chil­dren could be linked to sev­eral fac­tors, she said, in­clud­ing hous­ing avail­abil­ity, jobs, birthrate bub­bles and an age­ing pop­u­la­tion.

The pop­u­la­tion grew by 1.4 per cent on the pre­vi­ous year but the per­cent­age of peo­ple aged 65 and over was also es­ti­mated to in­crease to 14.7 per cent, up 1.2 per cent from 2013.

Ro­torua Boys’ High School has three new staff and ex­pected a roll in­crease to around 1000 in 2020, not the de­crease to 900 es­ti­mated in the pro­vi­sional roll.

Prin­ci­pal Chris Grin­ter said in the last two years, there had been a de­cline, par­tic­u­larly in Year 13 stu­dents, who left to pur­sue full em­ploy­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Stat­sNz, un­em­ploy­ment was 3.8 per cent in the Septem­ber 2019 quar­ter, down from 5.1 per cent in De­cem­ber 2017.

“More stu­dents are fo­cus­ing on vo­ca­tional path­ways and the trades com­pared to how it was a few years ago,” Grin­ter said.

But this was be­ing “more than com­pen­sated for” by the in­creased en­rol­ments in both Year 9 and 10, he said.

The growth of the ju­nior school was the rea­son for the ad­di­tional teach­ers, with the school’s teach­ing staff now 70.

Up­per Ati­a­muri School de­fied the

We’ve had en­rol­ments be­cause of our Face­book page.

Up­per Ati­a­muri prin­ci­pal Ju­dith Small­bone

de­creas­ing trend, ex­pect­ing an ex­tra 15 stu­dents on last year, for a pro­vi­sional roll of 43.

The in­crease of more than onethird was the high­est per­cent­age in­crease of Ro­torua’s schools.

Prin­ci­pal Ju­dith Small­bone said a big part of re­vers­ing a de­clin­ing roll was re­con­nect­ing with the com­mu­nity and hav­ing a clear fo­cus for the school.

“The com­mu­nity re­ally sup­port the school, they raise money, they look af­ter the grounds . . . they’re just re­mark­able,” she said.

An ef­fort was also put into im­prov­ing the school’s on­line pres­ence.

“We’ve had en­rol­ments be­cause of our Face­book page,” she said.

The next big mile­stone would be 47 pupils as that would make the school el­i­gi­ble for ex­tra fund­ing.

The growth, and the prospect of fu­ture growth, was ex­cit­ing, she said.

There would be ex­tra fund­ing from the Min­istry and more di­ver­sity in the school. The school would also be able to en­ter its own school team at in­ter­school events, rather than teamup ¯with other schools.

Owhata School’s roll dropped by 18 but prin­ci­pal Bob Stiles said the school was “very tran­sient” and a lack of hous­ing played a sig­nif­i­cant role in the trend.

Stiles was not con­cerned about the roll and ex­pected to see more chil­dren en­rol through­out the year.

Mokoia In­ter­me­di­ate School prin

cipal Rawiri Wi­hapi said the pro­vi­sional school roll of 320 pupils was not ac­cu­rate and the school had 317 at the end of last year and ex­pected a 2020 roll of 332.

As the pres­i­dent of the Ro­torua Prin­ci­pals’ As­so­ci­a­tion, Wi­hapi said he had not heard any con­cerns from other prin­ci­pals about school rolls.

Waikite Val­ley School was an­other small, ru­ral school that jumped just over 20 per cent in size from 74 to 93 stu­dents. Two Catholic schools, John Paul Col­lege and St Mary’s Catholic School, stayed the same.

Western Heights High School’s roll dropped the most, with 1196 es­ti­mated for 2020, 121 fewer than 2019.

Re­poroa’s Mihi School roll had the great­est per­cent­age roll drop of just un­der a third, go­ing from 38 to 29 pupils.

The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion was ap­proached for fur­ther com­ment about the trend but did not re­spond by dead­line.

Photo / An­drew Warner

Up­per Ati­a­muri School prin­ci­pal Ju­dith Small­bone is ex­cited about a school roll 35 per cent higher than last year.

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