School choice is set to tighten across Auckland as new housing developments force more schools to close their doors against out-of-zone families.

A National Education Growth Plan unveiled yesterday says enrolment schemes will be required in the next three years at 103 of the 140 Auckland state schools that still don’t have any zoning restrictions.

The new schemes, plus population pressure on the 277 state schools that already have zoning schemes, are likely to drastically reduce parents’ choice, forcing most to send their children to the nearest state school.

Zoning is already common in higher-income areas such as Ormiston and Mission Heights, where all schools have zoning schemes, and central Auckland, where 26 of the 27 state schools have zoning restrictions.

But more intensive housing planned in state housing areas is also expected to force zoning schemes in previously lightly zoned or unzoned lower-income areas such as Tāmaki, Northcote, Mt Roskill, Māngere, Ōtara and Manurewa.

Auckland Central MP and former Education Minister Nikki Kaye said the tightening would be “challenging to some communities”.

“It means basically nearly every school in Auckland will have an enrolment scheme,” she said.

The plan, unveiled by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Education Minister Chris Hipkins, signals a need for 30 new schools in Auckland and 31 across the rest of the country to accommodate 100,000 extra students by 2030 – 60,000 of them in Auckland.

Most of the new schools will be in new suburban developments such as Drury, where four new primary schools and at least one new secondary school are planned.

But the plan also includes new “urban schools” at Takapuna, Manukau and in the Auckland central business district where a new co-educational state secondary school is also expected to be needed beyond 2030.

NZ Herald

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