By: Alice Guy
A population boom in Rotorua is having a trickle-down effect on local school rolls with projected increases prompting a principal to urge parents to act quickly to enrol their children.
The provisional roll figures for 2018 show the number of children enrolled at Rotorua schools has increased.
More than half of the city’s schools are projected to grow and Rotorua Principals’ Association president Briar Stewart said it was likely more schools would follow suit.
“When the provisional rolls are done, it’s before you really have any idea of how many people are moving into the area.
“Naturally primary schools will drop their Year 6s, but they often don’t take into account the new people moving into the area and that can put a school on the back foot as far as staffing goes.”
Stewart said new enrolments at the start of a term always see the roll numbers jump.
“It’s a huge pressure on teachers in that first week back. Every new enrolment is another child in a classroom, another chair and another desk.
“We could absolutely see these rolls getting even higher.”
She encouraged parents who had moved to Rotorua over the summer to enrol their children as soon as possible.
“A few schools will be open the week before school starts back, which is a chance for people to enrol their children.
“It is hard as a school to just not know what you’ll get on day one.”
She was not surprised to see Rotorua Lakes High and Mokoia Intermediate schools had the largest projected increases.
“There has been a huge growth in the east side of the last few years and that has created a huge growth at schools like Owhata and Lynmore.”
Lynmore Primary School is the largest primary school with a projected roll of 675 pupils, while at 138 pupils Sunset Primary School has the smallest provisional roll.
Rotorua Intermediate, the largest of the intermediate schools, had 699 pupils on its provisional roll but principal Garry de Thierry said it disagreed with the numbers.
“We put in a review because we disagreed with our original numbers and have been staffed at 728.”
De Thierry said the school had been over the 700 mark for about five years.
“We’re very much into using that to provide new opportunities and particularly in a digital context.”
He said that consistency in the roll meant the school wasn’t too worried about having to lose staff or go through the process of finding new teachers.
“The consistency means no one has to be worried about changing.”
Like last year, Western Heights High School is projected to have the highest roll this year with 1363 students, while Rotorua Girls High School has the lowest of the central secondary schools, with 542 students. Reporoa College’s roll is sitting at 214 students.
Despite being the largest, Western Heights is also the school seeing the greatest decrease with 57 fewer students on the provisional roll than this time last year.
Although John Paul College, an intermediate and secondary school, is showing as being beneath its maximum cap, principal Patrick Walsh said it had “quite an extensive waiting list”.
“We closed our roll off in October [of 2017] because the last few years we’ve had more applicants than available places. So we just unfortunately have to put people on the waiting list so we know we’ll have a full roll by 2018.”
He said the influx in students started about four or five years ago.
“We’ve certainly been the school of choice in terms of secondary education for Rotorua and we’ve just had far more applications than available places.
“We’ve applied for a roll increase twice to the Ministry of Education to go from 1100 to 1200 because we do actually have room for an additional 100 students. But we’ve been declined both times, they say there’s capacity in the other schools in Rotorua so it would have an adverse affect on their rolls.”
He said the view of the school was that it came down to parental choice.
“We think with the growth in Rotorua it wouldn’t have an adverse affect on other schools.”
Over recent years Rotorua Girls High has seen a steady decline in its role, but it is projected to increase by 22 students this year to 542.
Principal Ally Gibbons said the roll was looking positive which was “great”.
Source: Rotorua Daily Post