Some secondary school’s rolls in the Nelson region are reaching record highs, with one college having to turn families away and desperate parents moving house just to get into school zones.
Colleges started back last week, and this year Nayland College has seen their highest intake of year nines in more than a decade and Waimea College has reported their largest roll ever.
“We have 270 year nine students joining us this year, with an overall roll increase,” says Nayland College principal Daniel Wilson.
“We have 60 new students joining us at other year levels, eight new staff and an increase in international students.”
Meanwhile, Waimea College is under “significant pressure”, according to principal Scott Haines, with a roll of 1614 students – up from 1575 last year, and is nine teaching spaces in deficit.
“We expected our roll to peak last year so it has exceeded our own estimates. We now have 343 year nines and 370 year 10s, and eight new form classes.”
They have also had to turn away 70 out-of-zone families this enrolment season, which Scott says is “unfortunate”.
“I really feel for them because, obviously, if they want to come to Waimea College for whatever reason, we’d like to be able to accommodate that and it’s really hard having those conversations,” he says.
But some families are going as far as moving house just to get into the college.
“When we bring the zone map out and try and explain why they can’t enrol here, some families will just say ‘fine, we’ll just buy a house in the zone’.
“I had a father a couple of weeks ago, who I had that exact conversation with, say ‘here’s the enrolment form for my son, I’ll be back within the week with a property document with the deed to a property’ – and that’s exactly what he did.”
Garin College has also had a jump in its roll and has seven new teachers.
“Garin is experiencing positive annual roll growth with an opening roll this year of 526, up on our roll of 515 students in 2017,” says principal John Maguire.
He says the most significant roll growth is occurring at year nine with 99 new students, but they are “well placed” for further increases.
Nelson College and Nelson College for Girls have both reported stable rolls.
Daniel says they have sufficient facilities to cope with roll growth, and believes their roll is growing due to renewed “support and confidence” from local families.
“There has been an increase in students from across the region, but the biggest increase has been from our local area.”