By: Simon Collins

Matua Ngaru School, due to open next January in Kumeu, is one of seven new primary schools already funded across Auckland, with at least 12 more schools planned by 2030. (Image supplied)

Auckland will get at least 12 new schools in the next 12 years to cope with the region’s fast-growing population.

The Ministry of Education has told the region’s principals that it plans four to five new secondary schools and eight to 10 new primary schools to help accommodate up to 38,000 more students by 2030.

Already been announced and funded, opening in 2019 at Kumeu and Flat Bush and in 2021 at northwest Orewa, Scott Point (Hobsonville), Hingaia South (Papakura), Drury and Belmont (Pukekohe).

A new Central Auckland Specialist School, combining the former Sunnydene Special School and Carlson School for Cerebral Palsy, has also been funded on a site which has not yet been finalised.

Existing schools will also expand, and popular schools will be forced to drastically reduce out-of-zone students to absorb growth within their zones.

More than 17,000 secondary school students across the region now attend schools from outside their zones – 28 per cent of all students at the 41 state secondary schools that have enrolment zones.

Population pressures look set to reduce that number to close to zero by 2030.

Photo / Herald Graphic

Ministry deputy secretary Katrina Casey said exact locations for the new schools were “still being investigated and subject to commercial negotiations”.

Only the Pukekohe one is labelled on the map, as “Wesley Secondary”. Chris Johnston of the Methodist Church company that is building a new town of 4500 homes on the current Wesley College site at Paerata said he was negotiating with the ministry.

“We know we will need a secondary school, we are just trying to work out exactly where to put it,” he said.

“The site we allocated was a bit further out than the ministry wanted, and they want to bring the timeframe forward. I think they are looking at [opening in] 2024 or 2025.”

He said the company also wanted to build two new primary schools, but the ministry has so far approved only one – a new $20 million Paerata School for 350 students to open in 2021, replacing a small country school of the same name with 137 students.

Wesley College itself, a Methodist-run integrated school, will be rebuilt on a new site with capacity to increase its roll from 360 to 600.

At nearby Drury, where developer Charles Ma is building another new town of 2500 homes called Auranga, the map shows a new secondary school and three new primary schools, including a new $20m school for 370 students funded in last year’s Budget.

At the other end of the city, the map shows a new secondary school and two primary schools around Orewa. Orewa College principal Kate Shevland said the new high school was likely to be in Millvale, a new subdivision being developed by WFH Properties west of the motorway near the company’s Millwater development.

She said Orewa College was already “at capacity”. It has cut out-of-zone students from 453 to 149 in the past five years and has recently proposed lopping off a large part of its zone in Red Beach, eventually forcing up to 400 students to bus out to Whangaparaoa College, a newer school with room to grow.

At Albany, where the map shows a new primary and a new secondary school, Albany Junior High School principal Stephen Kendall-Jones said all the local primary schools were “bursting at the seams”.

“My own school’s plan is to reduce the out-of-zoners,” he said. Currently 335 of the school’s 1191 students come from outside its zone, some from as far away as Mahurangi and Whenuapai.

He said Albany Senior High School, where former Hobsonville Point deputy principal Claire Amos starts as principal next term, had space to grow from its current 780 students to 1000 before another new school was needed.

The map shows a new primary and a new secondary school in the Massey area to cope with population growth in the northwest corridor from Westgate to Huapai.

Massey High School principal Glen Denham said his school could absorb an extra 200 students after its roll dropped when Hobsonville Point Secondary opened in 2014.

Hobsonville Point principal Maurie Abraham said his school was built for 1350 students but only had 545 last month, so it could absorb another 800.

But the ministry is projecting massive roll growth of up to 9040 primary and secondary students in the broad Massey/Hobsonville/Kaipara catchment by 2030 – by far the biggest growth of Auckland’s 20 school catchments.

The map includes only state schools, but private and integrated schools may also pick up some of the extra students.

Catholic Education Office chief executive Paul Ferris said the Church bought 25ha in Burtt Rd, Drury, for a new $40m co-educational high school for 1000 students three years ago, but was still waiting for ministry approval – required because the state pays up to 85 per cent of the cost of new integrated schools.

The Catholics also plan a new Stella Maris High School for 1200 students at Millwater, and to expand the existing Stella Maris Primary School from 258 students to about 700, in the next four years.

Ferris said the Elim Church, and the NZ Christian Properties Trust which runs Kingsway School near Millwater, both also wanted to build new integrated primary schools in Pukekohe, but did not yet have ministry approval.

Source: Newstalk ZB

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