Thousands of Northland students will start heading back to school from Tuesday as holidays come to end. The Northern Advocate is running three stories on the return as part of our back to school package. Here is our second story
More than half of the schools in Northland are expected to see their rolls grow this year, with one Whangārei school estimated to get an additional 129 students.
Ministry of Education provisional roll data for 2021- which are estimates and may change - predict 76 out of 146 schools in Te Tai Tokerau will see their rolls grow; 64 could see it shrink and the rest are expected to have no change.
Meanwhile, the number of students in Northland is expected to increase by 342, which would bring the total to 31,536 in 2021.
Whangārei's Kamo High School is expected to have the biggest roll growth out of all Northland schools, with an extra 129 students -bringing their roll to 925.
Natasha Hemara, who started as principal of the kura in July last year, said she thought it was excellent more people were wanting to send their teenagers to Kamo High School.
"We've got a really large goal to make Kamo High School the school of choice in Whangārei.
"It's not going to happen overnight for us. We've got a very strong charter for three years to get us to where we believe we could be, and then to elevate that further," she said.
Hemara said the roll had started growing in the last year or so.
She said while she had no real evidence to explain why, it could come down to the new senior leadership team's vision for the school, and Northland's population growth.
"Some of the kōrero that some of the parents are saying is that they would like their students to attend a local school. That some of the other schools are getting too big and they like the personal approach to the way we do things. We really do focus on whanaungatanga and centring on the individual here."
Kamo High School had a rocky couple of years. The Board of Trustees resigned en masse in 2019 over differences with the principal at the time Jo Hutt, and a commissioner was appointed.
When asked whether Hemara believed the roll growth also reflected her new leadership, she said she thought it contributed to it, but it was not the only reason.
"I think people really understand the direction and clarity that we're heading in and we're rebuilding. We're bringing life back in to a community that may not have felt connected with their school before. Lots did, but lots didn't and so we're raising that profile."
Hemara said she hasn't had to hire too many more staff due to the roll growth. She had replaced some staff who had moved, and had made staff on fixed term contracts more permanent.
Other schools with reasonable provisional roll increases are Pompallier Catholic College, up 70; Whangārei Girls' High School, up 61, Bay of Islands College, up 60 and Oruaiti School up 38.
The schools that have seen the largest roll falls are; Kawakawa Primary, down 49, Kamo primary, down 43, Hikurangi School, down 42 and Dargaville High School, down 40.