Nelson’s two single-sex secondary schools say they would prefer to be left out of the discussion regarding the impending enrolment zone for Nayland College.
The only co-ed school in Nelson is set to zone in 2022 due to roll growth, which has created an outcry from parents who want more choice for their children.
Last week, the Ministry of Education told Nelson Weekly that should the boards of Nelson’s other two secondary schools, Nelson College for Girls and Nelson College, and their communities request that the ministry work with them to consider the possibility of them providing co-educational schooling, they would do so.
But Deleece Hall, Nelson College Board of Trustees chairperson, says it’s “unfair” to put it on other schools.
“We don’t think of it as a Nelson College issue. There are no bad options for schools in the Nelson region and we can’t see why enrolment issues specific to Nayland College should open up any discussion on anything else. It’s a big distraction.”
Deleece says it’s the ministry’s issue to deal with.
“If the ministry wants to discuss it, they need to come to us, not via the media. It’s unnecessary and unfortunate, and that’s a firm position we have. All the schools are very supportive of each other.”
Natasha Berkett, chair of Nelson College for Girls board of trustees, says it would not be appropriate to comment on another school’s zoning, but confirmed they have never discussed becoming co-ed.
“The board of Nelson College for Girls has never considered the school becoming co-educational. We do share a small number of timetabled classes with Nelson College, but ultimately, we strongly believe in what girls can achieve in our single-sex educational environment,” she says.
“Every day we see the rewards of our positive all-girl learning environment and focus on wellbeing, and every year our girls attain region-topping academic results – strengths also verified by ERO.
“Meanwhile, zoning of a particular school is a matter between that school and the Ministry of Education.”
The ministry has told the Weekly that while Nayland College has seen a demand for enrolments, Nelson College for Girls and Nelson College have experienced a decline in enrolments and additional students would be able to be accommodated within the current schooling provision.
“A new secondary school is not needed [in Nelson] in the next few years”.
Meanwhile, a Facebook group started by Nelson parents called ‘Whanau for Co-educational choice in Nelson’ has now climbed to nearly 400 members.
Group member Rebecca Glen has launched a petition to parliament asking that the House of Representatives pass legislation requiring the Ministry of Education to offer co-educational college education for all New Zealand youth.