More families in Nelson are sending their children to their local primary school, while recently enforced school zones are starting to show their impact.
Primary schools started back last week, with all city area schools – including Auckland Point, Central, Victory and Hampden Street – reporting healthy numbers for the year.
Both Central and Hampden Street Schools have introduced enrolment schemes in the past two years to control burgeoning rolls.
Nelson Central School principal Pip Wells says zoning has helped to control numbers so much so that without it, they would have been “inundated”.
“We are still bursting at the seams and have welcomed more than 40 new students this year – the bulk being new entrants,” she says.
They have started the year with 464 students – up on 435 last year and will soon be adding two new classroom spaces to accommodate the growth.
“There has been a huge strain on our resources and classes, but we’re in great heart – the teachers and students are buzzing and we are also on the hunt for a senior syndicate leader.”
Don McLean, Hampden Street School principal, also says zoning has helped to take the pressure off.
“Our roll is down on last year – it is a significant drop due to the impact of our enrolment scheme and also 100 year six students going out,” he says.
“The end result is we are starting with one less classroom this year, and teacher.
“This isn’t a bad thing as we function best with around 450 students and we see the roll stabilising over the next couple of years around the 450 mark.”
Meanwhile, Auckland Point and Victory Primary Schools, which are not zoned, have received a healthy dose of new students for 2018 as well as some new teachers.
Victory Primary School’s roll is up 30 students from this time last year, at 380 students.
Auckland Point School also has a starting roll this year of 95 students up, which is up from 70 about six years ago.
“We have a steadily growing roll and are planning for continued growth this year,” says principal Sonya Hockley.
Sonya believes that Auckland Point’s roll growth is largely due to more families in the central Nelson area choosing to send their children to their local school.
“I do think that as some schools are not an option … this further promotes the ‘local kids, local school’ option,” says Sonya.
However, she still says the impact of the zoning in other schools has been small.
“Over the last year, the majority of our new students and whanau are living in what would be our natural catchment area.
“When I talk with our new families they say they have actively chosen to come here.”
Sonya says she encourages local families to go to their local school as it creates a community that is more representative of those that live around it.