Sonya is a social issues reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Housing shortage forcing children to move schools

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Brookfield School principal Robert Hyndman says he has seen increasing numbers of students forced to move schools because of Tauranga's housing shortage. Photo/file
Brookfield School principal Robert Hyndman says he has seen increasing numbers of students forced to move schools because of Tauranga's housing shortage. Photo/file

Children are having to move schools because of the housing shortage in Tauranga, some principals say.

Robert Hyndman, principal of Brookfield School, said since the last school holidays in July, his school had lost 18 children, seven of whom had been identified as changing schools because of housing issues. Of a school roll of 228 children, this was a significant number.

"We've noticed it's becoming quite a thing in Brookfield. Families are having to get out of their houses and aren't able to get another one."

Hyndman said the school had also enrolled 15 children, of which only four were new entrants.

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"That means 11 of those were not new because they were turning 5. I guess some of their houses have been sold and they've newly moved into the area.

"We sometimes joke we have an exchange programme with Welcome Bay. It's a similar housing market there so we're seeing kids moving back and forth."

Merivale School principal Jan Tinetti said since July 25, 20 children had left the school because their families have had to find housing elsewhere.

"Some of the children have been to up to three schools before us this year.

"The families will be trying to get accommodation and are staying with friends or family. They'll stay for a few weeks then move elsewhere. It's kind of a version of couch surfing."

Tinetti said transience was not good for children's' learning because they needed consistency and continuity.

"Research does show its one of the biggest detractors to educational achievement is moving schools. It has a huge impact on them."

It also affected children socially as they had to make new friends each time.

"Think about yourself as an adult moving to a new town. It's not easy. Moving as a child is 10 times harder really because it's your friends, it's your schooling."

Other principals spoken to bay the Bay of Plenty Times reported no increase in transience.

Lisa Rodgers, deputy secretary of early learning and student achievement at the Ministry of Education, said she could not comment on housing problems, but the ministry was not seeing an increase in transience in the Bay of Plenty.

"Transience concerns us when it is not well managed. Research suggests that students who move home or school frequently are more likely to underachieve in formal education compared with students who have a more stable school life.

"Students who have moved school twice or more across Year 9 to Year 11 are less than half as likely to achieve NCEA Level 2 or above by the time they leave school compared to those who have not moved school.

"Well-managed transitions can lessen the impact of moving. While programmes of study are not exactly the same from school to school, schools cater for students who may be new in a range of ways. The systematic sharing of information between schools ensures there will be as little disruption as possible to students' learning."

Transient students numbers across the Bay of Plenty

Transient students are defined as students that have transferred school twice or more between March and November each year.

2015: 596

2014: 588

2013: 548

2012: 632

2011: 657

- Ministry of Education

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