Nelson grows, schools bigger

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There will be more school lunches made in Nelson this year, with three of the region’s secondary schools enrolling more students than ever before. Waimea College tops the list for the largest secondary school in the region by quite some margin with 1530 students enrolling for 2014 – highlighting the growth of Richmond.

“The roll has probably increased by about 25-30 students since last year. It’s been close to 1500 for three or four years now but this is the highest it’s ever been,” principal Larry Ching says.

Larry believes the two main reasons Waimea College continues to grow are because of the increasing population in Richmond and the subjects, courses and activities on offer which meant “students have no reason to go past” Waimea College.

The second biggest, Nelson College, has a school roll of 1125. Nelson has been helped by their largest ever intake of Year 9 students, while also benefiting from the growth of Richmond with more Tasman based students enrolling. “We’re growing exponentially,” Nelson College headmaster Gary O’Shea says. “Our Year 9 intake is 247 boys, which is up from around 215 from 2012.”

Gary replied “we’re successful” when asked why the school had experienced such a big growth for this year, and says there are still a lot of parents who want single sex education for their children. “We’ve been growing for the past six years and at a time when the census would say that central Nelson should be dropping, so we’re taking a lot of boys from the Tasman region basically.”

It will also be the first year that Nelson College has had more than 200 Year 13 students.

Nayland College and Nelson College for Girls will start the year with near identical school rolls with the 1081 and 1080 students respectively.

While Nelson College for Girls had grown by about “a class’s worth”, according to principal Cathy Ewing, Nayland was the only secondary school in Nelson to have dropped in numbers. Principal Rex Smith admits competition from other schools has played a part in the reduction of about 40 students, with a small number of Year 9 students coming through. “We know we’re doing a good job but maybe we need to find out what parents are looking for and telling our stories better because we have plenty of good ones to tell,” he says.

Because Ministry of Education funding can be determined by the number of students enrolled at a school, Nayland will get proportionally less this year, resulting in four fewer staff.

Nelson College for Girls was slowly growing each year, but the number of girls coming from the Tasman area had not changed. And while Waimea College’s 1530 students can highlight the growth of Richmond, the smallest secondary school in the region can as well. Garin College’s 483 students is a school record, having grown by about “10 or 15” students. “We’ll start with more kids than we’ve ever

had before,” says head teacher John Boyce. “We still call ourselves the small school and we still are, everybody knows everybody, but as it gets over 500 we’re going to have to keep that community feel. The good thing is more money, more teachers, more subjects and more flexibility but we need to keep that sense of community.”