Jaynie Holmes, front left, is with other concerned parents Emma Bruce, Eva Romanowski, Andrew Whelan, Suze Whelan, Trudy Larson-Curl, Edi Berla and Anne-Marie Richards. Photo: Kate Russell.

‘We can fight this if we’re loud enough’

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Nelson parents have spoken, and they want a co-ed secondary school in the city.

With the news that Nayland College will be implementing a zone from the beginning of 2022, parents have come forward with their concerns about there being no co-ed choice in Nelson, in a newly-created Facebook group. ‘Whanau for Co-educational Choice’ has quickly grown to nearly 250 members in just one week, with its creator Jaynie Holmes saying they won’t be giving up without a fight.

“With Nayland College zoned, it would leave only single-sex school options for our children – Nelson College and Nelson College for Girls.

“We don’t live in a single-sex world, so why should a single-sex school be forced on us?”

The mother of six says she already has one year nine student at Nayland College, and is distraught her other children may not be able to attend there.

Several members of the group have written to the Ministry of Education, and a petition to parliament asking for the legislation to be changed to require the ministry to offer co-ed college education for all New Zealanders is due to be launched.

“It should be a human right,” says Jaynie.

Nelson Weekly reported on 1 July that the ministry would be introducing a zone for the Stoke college, due to it rapidly nearing its 1330 student capacity.

Principal Daniel Wilson says the decision is “out of their control” with the ministry stating that there were no options for the school to expand.

The ministry has told the Weekly that “a new secondary school is not needed [in Nelson] in the next few years”.

“[Nayland College] has experienced an increased demand for enrolments, while Nelson College for Girls and Nelson College have experienced a decline in enrolments,” says Katrina Casey, Deputy Secretary, Sector Enablement and Support.

“While there are several developments in the northern Nelson area, our planning does not show that they will result in significant secondary school-aged population growth. The additional students will be able to be accommodated within the current schooling provision.”

Katrina also stated that should the boards of 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.

Jaynie says that approaching Nelson MP Nick Smith, Labour candidate Rachel Boyack and Nelson City councillors are next on the to-do list.

“It’s just the beginning – we can fight this if we’re loud enough.”

You can join the Facebook group here.