Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Schools facing space headache

Birth rate increases bring lots of kids looking for a school to take them.

Sandra Aitken says Pt Chev Primary will struggle with more pupils.  Photo / Greg Bowker
Sandra Aitken says Pt Chev Primary will struggle with more pupils. Photo / Greg Bowker

Popular primary schools are under increased pressure to set up classes for next year with swelling rolls, local baby-booms and a lack of current Census information.

The Ministry of Education this week told the Herald on Sunday 58 Auckland state schools have been asked to review their enrolment schemes to avoid overcrowding and to ensure transparency of enrolments for parents desperate to get their children into classes.

The senior media adviser for the ministry, Lucy Johnston, said: "Schools are coming under increasing roll pressure following the increase in birth rates since 2006.

"This is particularly evident in schools located in Auckland's eastern and western bays."

The ministry has also appointed a contractor to canvas the neighbourhood of Pt Chevalier where the local school has struggled with a small site and a full roll.

At the start of next year the neighbourhood will be given two options - to create a full primary school (Years 1-8) at nearby Pasadena Intermediate or to plan for more roll growth at Pt Chevalier Primary. If it decided to deal with roll growth internally then the Ministry of Education said it would "discuss ramifications, including amendment of the school's enrolment zone".

The team will start canvassing the area in mid-January with the report expected back in May 2013.

Principal Sandra Aitken said the school, which is on a 1.6ha site, was already short of green space for the 704 children to play and would struggle with more pupils. She expected the roll to grow to 780 by 2014 - a further 76 kids.

Aitken said infill housing in the area had created a population bulge that the school was now dealing with.

Pasadena Primary principal Tony Walsh said there were good reasons to retain a separate intermediate and his school was almost at capacity.

Nearby Gladstone Primary School had been approached by the Ministry of Education earlier in the year and was told to look at reducing its zone.

The Mt Albert school employed a private research firm because of the lack of Census data to project numbers in the future roll.

"We had seen the effects of shrinking the school zone in 2005, it was very divisive for the school community and we didn't want to do that again," said principal Dave Shadbolt.

"We have a great group here and a lot are on the edge of the school zone."

The school employed Reid Research which canvassed 3250 homes in the school zone and found the school roll would reach a high of 869 next year before falling to 829 in 2017.

The school was also managing future numbers with no out-of-zone enrolments, no out-of-zone siblings and proof of address required.

Editorial, p42

- Herald on Sunday

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