Private Schools now cheaper than some Public Schools

February 4th, 2007 at 9:59 am by David Farrar

Zoning policies (which often stop popular schools from getting bigger) are leading to an increase in private school registrations.

Why?

Because it is cheaper to pay the up to $10,000 a year private fees than it is to pay a premium for a house in the right school zone. The premiums are estimated to be:

Christchurch $30,000
Wellington $50,000
Auckland $100,000

One thing people often don’t realise with zoning is it isn’t just about allowing studebnts to attend their local school. If only. It stops good schools from growing if there is a bad school nearby under capacity.

Here’s an example. School A is very popular because it has a respected Principal, high standards, excellent academic results and good sports and culture activities. It has capacity for 1,000 pupils and has all 1,000 place filled up with 980 from within the zone and only 20 outside.

School B used to be as popular but a change of principal has seen it decline. Staff and pupils have been leaving. It has capacity for 800 and now only has 600.

Now School A has 100 more students who would like to attend. So it applies for permission to put on a couple more classrooms so it can take 1,100. Then it can take everyoen in zone and out fo zone – ie all those who want to attend it.

But the Government looks at the city/town and says no no no. There is spare capacity at School B. We will not allow any more extensions at any school until School B is full up. Never mind people don’t want to go there anymore.

Zoning would be far less of an issue, if it was not accompanied by building restrictions on popular schools.

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44 Responses to “Private Schools now cheaper than some Public Schools”

  1. burt () says:

    DPF

    There are some very valid points made in this debate. However there is a lack of balance (as there so often is with real estate issues in NZ) with regard to buying a home in a desirable school zone.

    The only barrier to owning a house outside the school zone you want to live in, renting it out and renting in the school zone, is a mindset thing.

    If people are silly enough to have stonking mortgages so they can live in a certain zone then they have not really thought it through. However we are Kiwi’s and when it comes to houses… we think we need to live in the one we own. Why ?

    It’s ironic that I own a property in the desirable High School zone and rent it out to people who can’t afford to buy in that zone while I rent a house in a primary school zone that I can’t afford to buy in.

    School zones have proven to be (and will probably continue to be) one of the great dividers of society. The unintended consequences of putting the administration of the education system ahead of the students.

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  2. toms () says:

    What you are really proposing is creating a two tier state education system where the white flight middle class can opt out of their local school.

    I suppose if you are Tory its what you mean by “helping the underclass.”

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  3. PaulL () says:

    Tom, you are completely missing the point. The white middle class already opt out of their local school if they don’t like it – either by moving or by going private. It is the poor who are most disadvantaged by zoning – they cannot easily afford to move or go private, so unless their kid is lucky (meaning they get drawn in a lottery for a good school, or they get some form of scholarship), they are condemned to what is often a failing school.

    Helping the underclass is absolutely about giving the underclass the same opportunities in education that the middle class have – and at present they do not have those opportunities.

    Under DPF’s suggestion, even if you couldn’t afford to move to the right zone, so long as the desirable schools keep creating new spaces, you would have a decent chance of sending your kid there. That is a whole lot better than what these folk have on offer today.

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  4. burt () says:

    toms

    I also think you are missing the point. We (my family) have our next move planned for when we want to exit this school zone (good primary) and enter a good high school zone. This is currently 3-4 years away.

    So we work our way around what is best for the administration of the school system. It’s a shame that we need to do this, because at the end of the day all we want is what is best for our children.

    There is no stronghold based on race, income or religion when it comes to wanting what is best for your children, some of us can see what needs to be done to make the best out of a dogs-breakfast of an education system. The story as printed in the Sunday Star Times and by DPF on this blog are for the enlightenment of all.

    Spit bile at the messenger if you like, but the facts are the facts. The jack-ass education zoning system is hurting people in this country – and yes it is hurting low income families more than high income families.

    Please don’t shoot the messenger.

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  5. Graeme Edgeler () says:

    Cheaper, until you take into account 5 years of private schooling, and perhaps multiple kids.

    Oh, and the fact you can then sell you house and get the premium back!

    Also, DPF observed: “One thing people often don’t realise with zoning is it isn’t just about allowing students to attend their local school. If only. It stops good schools from growing if there is a bad school nearby under capacity.”

    As you yourself implicitly acknowledge DPF, this has nothing to do with zoning. School building restrictions stop good schools growing. This could exist with zoning or without. They are unrelated.

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  6. Camryn () says:

    Grammar has no space to build anything. It already crams 2000+ into a school designed for 1500 due to its popularity. So, now the $100k house price surplus is the only “release’ for the pressure.

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  7. PaulL () says:

    Under a National govt I suspect Grammar would be able to open a second campus if they so desired. The right typically like to allow choice, the left typically like to restrict choice.

    I can only presume this is because the left assume people are too stupid to make decisions for themselves, whilst the right generally think that most people will make good choices if given the chance.

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  8. Deborah () says:

    One of the difficulties is if schools get overcrowded (not uncommon for city schools, where there often is simply no physical space for schools to grow, and even if more classrooms can be built, the kids still need playgrounds and playing fields), then even if the school wanted to take more pupils, it simply couldn’t fit them in. So as in the case of Auckland Grammar, growth constraints are often physical, not just based on Ministry of Education zoning rules.

    At the same time, I think kids should be able to go to their nearest school. (Important for primary children, whose small bodies simply get exhausted, though I’m not so sure that it is quite so important for older children.)

    So if the school is physically constrained, and kids should be able to go to their nearest school, then even if there is no official zone, there is still an effective zone, because the available spaces are taken up by children for whom it is the nearest school.

    I haven’t been able to think of a way around this problem.

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  9. PaulL () says:

    Deborah, it is a tradeoff. If you had the choice as to which school to go to, and the school had the choice as to whether to increase rolls or not, maybe through an additional campus, then:

    1. If your local school was so bad that you were better off driving your kid every day to a better school, you could

    2. If your school was just a little bad, then maybe the downside of all that travel (for you and your kid) would outweigh the benefits of a better school

    3. You could send your kids to a school that matches your philosophies – good schools and bad schools is sometimes a simplification, sometimes they are just different, and different schools work for different kids. Maybe your kid is great at art, and your local school has a crap arts programme. Maybe your kid is great at rugby, and your local school has no decent sports programme.

    4. It would provide a clear message about successful and failing schools – those schools that are genuinely bad would be empty. Presumably somebody in the govt would finally notice that, and do something about it, rather than continuing to condemn kids to going there

    5. If there was so much demand for a school, even though it meant the playgrounds were packed every day, maybe it is to the greater good for them to take more pupils with less space each, than to continue to force kids into a bad school with more space. Playground space is only part of what makes a school.

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  10. Deborah () says:

    I agree with all your points, Paul, but they are not really about the point I was making. My worry is more about kids getting squeezed out of their local schools, if their local school is perceived as a desirable school, so it is full to the brim, and there is simply no space for them.

    I imagine that parents who live within walking distance of the nearest primary school would be mightily pissed off if they had to get into the car to take their kids elsewhere, simply because the school had taken too many pupils from other areas.

    The overall point is that if kids should be able to go to their nearest primary, then there is an effective zone, even if there isn’t an official one, and parental choice is still constrained.

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  11. stef () says:

    Most of this so called ‘crisis’ is bought on by scare tactics of the schools themselves. I remember in 2nd form, having a principal of one of the more ‘successful’ schools in Auckland running around telling us that we were going to fail in life if we didn’t attend his school (I went to secondary school in the early days of no-zones).

    I ended up at one of the ‘bad schools’ because it was on a direct bus route from my home. We didn’t all turn out too bad. Sure I knew girls who were dropping out of school because they got knocked up, their were some fights and a bit of gang violence. But one of my classmates is currently studying for her PhD at Cambridge and a number of us went on to university.

    The point is contrary to public opinion, educational difference between most public schools is not that huge. Individual kids, and more importantly their home environment, has far more of an impact on their achievement later in life than where they went to school.

    So lets shift this debate to what is more about. Middle class parents wandering after a brand more than anything else. The principal of one of the schools in the article even points it out:

    “Christchurch is school-oriented. When you meet someone from Christchurch, one of the first questions they ask is `What school did you go to?”

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  12. stef () says:

    Most of this so called ‘crisis’ is bought on by scare tactics of the schools themselves. I remember in 2nd form, having a principal of one of the more ‘successful’ schools in Auckland running around telling us that we were going to fail in life if we didn’t attend his school (I went to secondary school in the early days of no-zones).

    I ended up at one of the ‘bad schools’ because it was on a direct bus route from my home. We didn’t all turn out too bad. Sure I knew girls who were dropping out of school because they got knocked up, their were some fights and a bit of gang violence. But one of my classmates is currently studying for her PhD at Cambridge and a number of us went on to university.

    The point is contrary to public opinion, educational difference between most public schools is not that huge. Individual kids, and more importantly their home environment, has far more of an impact on their achievement later in life than where they went to school.

    So lets shift this debate to what is more about. Middle class parents wandering after a brand more than anything else. The principal of one of the schools in the article even points it out:

    “Christchurch is school-oriented. When you meet someone from Christchurch, one of the first questions they ask is `What school did you go to?”

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  13. Oliver () says:

    Something that seems to be missed in all of this is the NCEA. Before the NCEA the rolls at private schools were shrinking and some were having to become integrated schools.

    Under the old system a smart hard-working kid from Otahuhu College could get better bursary marks than a dimmer or lazier kid at King’s College. With the NCEA no one can interpret the marks and employers will be even more inclined to look past the kid from Otahuhu College.

    The choice to sit the cambrisge exam or International Baccalaureate has also had an interesting effect amongst private schools. Dioceson (in Auckland) originally decided to stick with the NCEA and not to offer the Cambridge exam or IB. They’ve had to go back on that decision after bleeding sudents to St Cuthberts and Corran (both nearby in Auckland).

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  14. SPC () says:

    They should reintroduce a stand alone Bursary exam.

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  15. JohnDalley () says:

    I would expect that there is no reason in law that the likes of auckland grammer, rangitoto college, avondale college, etc, etc, could run a second campus if they so desired.
    As much i can understand parents wanting the best for their siblings, what is the sense in adding to an overcrowded school when there may be a neighbouring school that is being under utilised.Shools afterall are just buildings, the heart and reputation come from the principal, the staff and the philosophy that they instill and hence a reputation is gained
    Surely if necessary it is smarter to better resourse those under performing schools in terms of labour and facilities etc and bring them up to a suitable standard that the pupils are getting a top class education

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  16. prop () says:

    As GE said, if you buy into a zone you still have the asset – 3 children @ $10k per year for five years – even with staggered ages that services a pretty good mortage. Also, if your kids end up being being tossers – at least you still heve a good house!!!

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  17. Oliver () says:

    Thomas Prebble,

    You’ve completely missed the point. No one has stated that private schools are categorically better than state schools. Many state schools are great, others are lousy. The point we’re duiscussing is that if you get stuck in a zone with a lousy state schools your options are limited by your income. The NCEA exacerbates this as it has made the reputation of your school more important than it was in the past. So the two great excercises in equality have had the exact opposite result.

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  18. Oliver () says:

    For further comment on this issue check out http://www.brooklynblue.blogzone.co.nz

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  19. johnmacc () says:

    The money and effort many parents spend on private school fees or buying in zone for “good” state schools is mostly wasted. What little achievement data is available to compare schools shows that private schools and high-decile state schools only get the results you would expect for students from well educated, high income families, irresepective of what school they go to. Its selection bias, not value added. As stef says, parents are mainly buying a brandname and a social exclusivity – not an education. Differences between classes within schools are far greater than differences between schools – who your child’s teacher is matters more than what school they go to. Put more effort into being picky about your kids’ teachers, and less into choosing your kids’ schools.

    The best antidote would be for more detailed and useful information on schools’ performance to be made available. Then parents could see which schools are genuinely adding value for the kids they enrol, and which are just “cruising” on their brandnames and the social capital their students bring from home. By failing to give parents more useful information on student achievement, the government leaves anxious parents to unfairly judge schools on irrelevant information like decile ratings, and to waste their money on chasing brandnames.

    JohnDalley – there’s nothing in LAW to stop Akld Grammar opening a new campus. But its a state school – the Ministry owns their property, and the Minister/Ministry would have to approve any plan and property development and funding. The barriers are policy/political, not legal. But there’s no evidence to support the assumption that a “Grammar Mk2″ would out-perform a new school established as a stand-alone.

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  20. johnmacc () says:

    The money and effort many parents spend on private school fees or buying in zone for “good” state schools is mostly wasted. What little achievement data is available to compare schools shows that private schools and high-decile state schools only get the results you would expect for students from well educated, high income families, irresepective of what school they go to. Its selection bias, not value added. As stef says, parents are mainly buying a brandname and a social exclusivity – not an education. Differences between classes within schools are far greater than differences between schools – who your child’s teacher is matters more than what school they go to. Put more effort into being picky about your kids’ teachers, and less into choosing your kids’ schools.

    The best antidote would be for more detailed and useful information on schools’ performance to be made available. Then parents could see which schools are genuinely adding value for the kids they enrol, and which are just “cruising” on their brandnames and the social capital their students bring from home. By failing to give parents more useful information on student achievement, the government leaves anxious parents to unfairly judge schools on irrelevant information like decile ratings, and to waste their money on chasing brandnames.

    JohnDalley – there’s nothing in LAW to stop Akld Grammar opening a new campus. But its a state school – the Ministry owns their property, and the Minister/Ministry would have to approve any plan and property development and funding. The barriers are policy/political, not legal. But there’s no evidence to support the assumption that a “Grammar Mk2″ would out-perform a new school established as a stand-alone.

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  21. Redbaiter () says:

    Vouchers are the answer.. leftists hate this solution because they’re so frightened they’ll lose their opportunity to indoctrinate our children..

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  22. Oliver () says:

    Johnmacc,

    The Minisrty of Education has all the information you could ever want about every school in NZ on its ‘School Smart’ website. The information is more detailed and up to date than anything the ERO could ever do but the Minister, Steve Maharey and Associate Parekura Horomia refuse to let anyone access the information. They denied an Official Information Act request on the subject from Bill English (as Education spokesperson) on the grounds that it would not be in the public interest to let him see it. This is being appealed to the Ombudsman. The Ministry doesn’t even let principles look at the site.

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  23. James () says:

    “Vouchers are the answer.. leftists hate this solution because they’re so frightened they’ll lose their opportunity to indoctrinate our children..”

    Sorry but freedom is the answer…and the removal of the State from education where its molesting the minds of our children and the wallets of our citizens who are forced to pay for it.Vouchers, while may be a better idea still require force and theft by the State.

    Private schools are under the gun from parents who control the purse strings…Public schools are just organs of the state and have no incentive to offer any decent service.

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  24. Redbaiter () says:

    James.. Fredom may well be the answer, but you postulate no plan for acheiving that goal. There’s really only one way, and that is to disempower the leftists, and the way to do this is to defund them. Once the leftists access to other people’s money is reduced, then they melt away like ice in the sun. Education vouchers are an important step towards defunding leftists and thereby reducing their power. One step in many steps that need to be taken.

    (There are many methods to defund leftists, and if the Nats weren’t leftists too, and too unrealising concerning the real battle, they’d implement them.)

    The way to small government is to defund those whose objective is big government.

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  25. James () says:

    “James.. Fredom may well be the answer, but you postulate no plan for acheiving that goal.

    The great body of libertarian literature tends to disprove that claim red..

    “There’s really only one way, and that is to disempower the leftists, and the way to do this is to defund them. Once the leftists access to other people’s money is reduced, then they melt away like ice in the sun”

    That is precisely the plan I and other Libertarians advocate Red so no conflict there…Freedom means being free from theft against your property.

    Without being able to live off the money of their enemies the Left is defunct.They are parasites in the true sense of the word.

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  26. sally () says:

    We have bailed on the Public schooling system, not out of any great social snobbery, not because we are buying in to a ‘brand’and not because of the so-called ‘white flight’.

    No, our family are education refugees fleeing the mediocre Public secondary school we are in zone for. We have monitored the school for years, talked to several parents and pupils and visited the school. We were left totally underwhelmed by the celebration of mediocrity crossed with PCness and with the fact that barely a third of kids were passing NCEA.

    The facade we are sold as NZers and more specifically as parents, is that all NZ children have access to ‘free’ Public schools, where one school is just as good as another and one size fits all as they are designed to cater for everyone. We all know this is simply not true and that, for example, a South Auckland school with high numbers of PIers and Maori will have quite different needs and experiences than say a South Island provincial WASP dominated school.

    I just about kissed the teacher at our zoned Public school who told me not to bother bringing my kid into the school, as she didn’t believe they could extend him and give him the education he deserved because the school had chosen to be a ‘community’ school, which she said was not about focussing on academia but more about having all the kids, many with English as a second language, feeling good about themselves. I appalaud her honesty and will never identify her due to I imagine torment from the NZEI and fellow PC colleagues and idealogues.

    At the Private school my kid goes to is as multi-cultural as it comes – his class last year had Chinese, Indonesian, Singaporean, Indian, Korean, Greek, Italian, Jewish, German, Maori and Pacific Islanders in it. I have come to the conclusion that Private schooling is no longer about WASPs and race, but more about common aspirations amongst all sorts of people and cultures, that value striving, hard work, competition, diversity (inter-faith religious dialogue is taught and encouraged but forbidden in the State system)and smaller classes that focus on individual and group learning.

    Will it pay off in the long run?? I don’t know.
    But I am not going to risk and chance it!

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  27. Deborah () says:

    There’s a letter on zoning in this week’s Listener, titled Tackling Prebble.

    Some quotes:

    Richard Prebble (Politics, January 20) does not seem to understand that having a school zone guarantees children the right to a place in their local high school; abolition of zoning takes away this right. Rather than giving parents the right to choose their children’s schools, the abolition of zoning actually gives schools the right to choose the students they want, regardless of parental choice.

    and

    During the late 1990s, the National government abolished some school zones. At that time, as Dean at an Auckland high school, I dealt with parents and children who had been denied enrolment at their local schools. In one case, a girl who lived in the same street as her local school had been denied enrolment (and not for behavioural problems, either). Her parents had to pay unwelcome bus fares to get their child to the distant school that did enrol her.

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  28. Educrated () says:

    Oliver – I agree the Ministry of Education knows lots more about school performance than is made public – schoolsmart holds much of this. But that is financial info, staff turnover info, and data on NCEA resuts and school leavers, etc – nothing on how kids are progressing earlier when it matters.
    We have no national benchmarked achievement data to compare schools before NCEA Level 1.
    UK-style “key stage” tests in earlier years would give “value added” measures that could show how schools perform compared to other schools with similar types of students.
    NZ, even with enrolment schemes and govt reluctance to fund growth in popular schools, has more open “school choice” than many other countries (certainly more than in most USA school districts where kids must attend the local school even if there is space elsewhere). We have more local autonomy of school boards in curriculum delivery, selecting staff, property and finance. What we lack is achievement information to empower parents to make informed choices and hold schools accountable. Choice, or vouchers (or whatever greater anarchist dreams exist beyond the rightward edge of feasible politics) are all useless without information to help parents choose.

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  29. PaulL () says:

    Those points may be true Deborah, but they do not have to be a consequence of removing zones – they are a consequence of the selection policies the schools enforced. I would question why a state owned school chose to have a selection policy that didn’t give priority to students from the local area – perhaps there is some information not being provided in the article?

    One could argue that zoning doesn’t have to mean lack of choice – if the govt had implemented zoning in a way that living in zone guaranteed entry, but didn’t constrain schools from expanding where there was demand, then equally there wouldn’t be a problem here.

    The difficulty I have is that when governments manage things they tend to run everything centrally, and assume one size fits all. They cannot see why anybody would want to send their child to a school other than the nearest, and so don’t allow for it. This misguided search for efficiency, and associated ignorance of the services that citizens actually want, is a hallmark of a centrally controlled monopoly.

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  30. johnmacc () says:

    PaulL – Its not that govt can’t see why people want to choose other schools – its that govt thinks there’s some greater good that should outweigh individual choice.
    In this case, the greater good usually cited is the risk to educational quality for the kids left behind – who are often the children of parents less financially or otherwise equipped to choose alternatives. There’s some evidence to support this – that the educational gains to individuals who shift are less than the losses for kids left behind in shrinking schools without the positive peer effects of kids with higher social and economic capital.
    But the sad truth is that the “greater good” that really dominates is the interests of the teachers unions. Choice for parents means uncertainty – and worse perhaps accountability for educators – something anathema to the NZEI, PPTA and most of the labour party.

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  31. Deborah () says:

    One could argue that zoning doesn’t have to mean lack of choice – if the govt had implemented zoning in a way that living in zone guaranteed entry, but didn’t constrain schools from expanding where there was demand, then equally there wouldn’t be a problem here.

    Sure, but even if schools weren’t constrained by policy, many of them would still be physically constrained, because there simply isn’t enough physical space for all the kids who want to go there.

    So by the time you put the two factors together (i.e. guaranteed entry for children living in the local area and not enough physical space), then you get an effective zone, even if there is no formal zoning policy.

    And kids really, really do need physical space to run around in. A classroom full of restless 10 year olds is not a pretty sight. Far more than adults, children seem to need physical excercise. And playing is part of ordinary human development, but kids need plenty of space to do it in. So simply building taller tower blocks of classrooms won’t solve the space problem.

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  32. Peter () says:

    So Auckland Grammar takes over Penrose High School and what happens next? How do they miraculously turn a Decile 1 or 2 school into a top 10 campus of New Zealand?

    Oh, with the marvellous Grammar culture, they would lift the decile would they? Where would the Decile 1 and 2 kids go?

    It makes no sense whatsoever.

    Stef and a few others are right. Crazed parents on the Decile hunt – trying to convert their happy primary or intermediate students into stressed-out mental cases. They look for a school branding, where there is a strong parent focus – not a strong child focus!

    Yes lets all descend on these popular schools. A class size of 40 is nothing – lets push it up to 50. And anyway, what is wrong with the concept of covering a school ground with sky scrapers?

    Yet the real solution is there before your eyes. VISIT your local school (and other unzoned schools) before doing anything. You may be surprised at how far less popular schools are prepared to go to accommodate your kid.

    And if you do find your child struggling in a particular suburb, use some of the money you have saved to buy a little private tuition. The results can be spectacular. And buy the study guides.

    Your child may enjoy education at a school like this. Or is this what you fear? Is your school of choice one that you would honestly like to go to yourself?

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  33. Peter () says:

    So Auckland Grammar takes over Penrose High School and what happens next? How do they miraculously turn a Decile 1 or 2 school into a top 10 campus of New Zealand?

    Oh, with the marvellous Grammar culture, they would lift the decile would they? Where would the Decile 1 and 2 kids go?

    It makes no sense whatsoever.

    Stef and a few others are right. Crazed parents on the Decile hunt – trying to convert their happy primary or intermediate students into stressed-out mental cases. They look for a school branding, where there is a strong parent focus – not a strong child focus!

    Yes lets all descend on these popular schools. A class size of 40 is nothing – lets push it up to 50. And anyway, what is wrong with the concept of covering a school ground with sky scrapers?

    Yet the real solution is there before your eyes. VISIT your local school (and other unzoned schools) before doing anything. You may be surprised at how far less popular schools are prepared to go to accommodate your kid.

    And if you do find your child struggling in a particular suburb, use some of the money you have saved to buy a little private tuition. The results can be spectacular. And buy the study guides.

    Your child may enjoy education at a school like this. Or is this what you fear? Is your school of choice one that you would honestly like to go to yourself?

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  34. Peter () says:

    So Auckland Grammar takes over Penrose High School and what happens next? How do they miraculously turn a Decile 1 or 2 school into a top 10 campus of New Zealand?

    Oh, with the marvellous Grammar culture, they would lift the decile would they? Where would the Decile 1 and 2 kids go?

    It makes no sense whatsoever.

    Stef and a few others are right. Crazed parents on the Decile hunt – trying to convert their happy primary or intermediate students into stressed-out mental cases. They look for a school branding, where there is a strong parent focus – not a strong child focus!

    Yes lets all descend on these popular schools. A class size of 40 is nothing – lets push it up to 50. And anyway, what is wrong with the concept of covering a school ground with sky scrapers?

    Yet the real solution is there before your eyes. VISIT your local school (and other unzoned schools) before doing anything. You may be surprised at how far less popular schools are prepared to go to accommodate your kid.

    And if you do find your child struggling in a particular suburb, use some of the money you have saved to buy a little private tuition. The results can be spectacular. And buy the study guides.

    Your child may enjoy education at a school like this. Or is this what you fear? Is your school of choice one that you would honestly like to go to yourself?

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  35. Peter () says:

    So Auckland Grammar takes over Penrose High School and what happens next? How do they miraculously turn a Decile 1 or 2 school into a top 10 campus of New Zealand?

    Oh, with the marvellous Grammar culture, they would lift the decile would they? Where would the Decile 1 and 2 kids go?

    It makes no sense whatsoever.

    Stef and a few others are right. Crazed parents on the Decile hunt – trying to convert their happy primary or intermediate students into stressed-out mental cases. They look for a school branding, where there is a strong parent focus – not a strong child focus!

    Yes lets all descend on these popular schools. A class size of 40 is nothing – lets push it up to 50. And anyway, what is wrong with the concept of covering a school ground with sky scrapers?

    Yet the real solution is there before your eyes. VISIT your local school (and other unzoned schools) before doing anything. You may be surprised at how far less popular schools are prepared to go to accommodate your kid.

    And if you do find your child struggling in a particular suburb, use some of the money you have saved to buy a little private tuition. The results can be spectacular. And buy the study guides.

    Your child may enjoy education at a school like this. Or is this what you fear? Is your school of choice one that you would honestly like to go to yourself?

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  36. burt () says:

    Peter

    “And if you do find your child struggling in a particular suburb, use some of the money you have saved to buy a little private tuition.”

    So what you are saying Peter is that we should pay our taxes for education, take what is offered in our own neighbourhood and if it’s crap just pay for extra tuition.

    Wow, that is going to ensure that all people have equal access to good education isn’t it.

    Perhaps you could campaign for signs to be put up at Lotto outlets in decile 1-3 school zones….

    Before you spend your WFF & Family Support on Lotto have you considered extra tuition for your children to break the poor education poverty trap.

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  37. PaulL () says:

    Peter, you have a fascination with deciles. Good and bad schools are represented in both high and low deciles. Going to a better school doesn’t have to mean a better decile, it can mean the next suburb over, with a similar decile but a much better education.

    Deborah, kids need space to run around in, but how much space. I suspect Grammar has an awful lot of grounds – probably more acreage per head than many other schools. It is a tradeoff, but we aren’t talking about concreting the whole place. A little less space per head v’s a better education – the choice isn’t as black and white as you make out. And, again, multiple campuses remains possible.

    I still haven’t heard any good arguments against school choice, my summary so far was:
    – run out of space: answers multiple campuses, compromise on space per head a little
    – kids left behind: answers they could move school too, should you really prevent one family from moving just to help those who can’t be bothered, and really the only kids you stop from moving are the poor ones – the rich ones just buy a new house in a better zone
    – teachers unions don’t like it: answer elect a National govt, they aren’t beholden to the teachers unions :-)

    Benefits of relaxing the zoning policy:
    – allow people to choose what is good for their kid, rather than force into one size fits all
    – allow people to avoid failing schools, which the govt is otherwise doing little about
    – not forcing the many into a particular course of behaviour in order to help the few who are apathetic
    – allow poorer families benefits that currently only richer families enjoy – directly supports social equity

    (yeah, I know there are some overlaps there, but I have to do some work now…)

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  38. Deborah () says:

    Deborah, kids need space to run around in, but how much space.

    A lot. Our local, very good, very popular primary school has one small playing field, and one set of tennis courts, plus a couple of small courtyards, for over 700 children, and there is no room to expand. Grammar may well have lots of space, but the problem of overcrowding is not confined to Grammar.

    With respect, PaulL, do you have children? And / or have you spent plenty of time with children confined to small spaces? Don’t get me wrong here – I think you are entitled to have opinions and reasons about children / child rearing / teaching / schools etc even if you don’t have much actual experience with children. Afterall, we all have plenty of opinions about lots of things we have never experienced ourselves, because we have capacities for imagination and reasoning, and we have the abiltiy to find things out, and modify and update our views based on new information. If we didn’t, you wouldn’t be bothering to engage in this debate with me and others on the forum that DPF provides here. So I am not for the least moment suggesting that only parents can have views about this.

    What I am offering is some facts / experience: kids need a lot of space. They go stir crazy if they can’t run around, play outside, exercise, have some downtime out of formal teaching structures. Take a look at the exhaustion on teachers’ faces after a long wet winter term, when the kids have been cooped up inside for days on end. Teachers hate wet days and weeks. Talk to any primary school teacher, and to secondary school teachers as well, and they will confirm this. (BTW, I am not a teacher myself.)

    If kids need space, and kids should be able to attend their local school, and many schools simply do not have the physical space to expand, then what we have is a recipe for effective zones, even if there are no formal zones.

    I haven’t yet heard a suggestion about how to get around this problem, other than the ‘extra’ campuses idea. And that of course, depends on finding principals, deputy principals (you would need one at each campus), and staff who are happy to work in a multi-campus school. I’m not sure that we pay school principals enough to get them to take on that kind of workload.

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  39. burt () says:

    Deborah

    Valid points. Why would a principal agree to run a multi campus school when for the same pay they could have a quiet life.

    The very issue of teachers and unions has always baffled me. Teaching as a profession is about managing the vastly different abilities, strengths and weaknesses of individuals. Yet teachers and principals all want to be paid the same.

    Go figure !

    Just like zoning, the whole situation with paying teachers for a job rather than for their skills and abilities is in the best interest of easy administration for the Dept. Of Education. The best interests of the students are not in the frame at all.

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  40. Deborah () says:

    Paying all teachers the same amount has always puzzled me too, Burt. Hell, I would even settle for a scale which they go up by merit, not by years in grade, or a scale which you go up automatically each year for a while, until you hit a bar that you could only get across by merit. Anything other than the current “you have been here for X years therefore you get paid Y amount approach”.

    The best interests of the students are not in the frame at all.

    Yes… but what gets me about some of the pro “there should be no zones” arguments is that the interests of the children who live locally, or who are already at the school, don’t seem to count. Now it could well be that the interests of a child not to be in an overcrowded school are outweighed by the interests of another child not to be forced to go to a school that is perceived as a poor school, but that doesn’t mean that those interests should at least be considered.

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  41. burt () says:

    Deborah

    I agree with your principal that kids at their local school are not well catered for in a no zoning policy.

    However, pragmatically the parents have sent the child to that school because it is good, they don’t know if it is or not but it’s local, or they have got lucky and landed near a good school by chance.

    OR They sent their child there even though they know it’s bad, they don’t know if it is good or bad but it’s local or they got unlucky and landed near a bad school.

    If I lived near a good school and for one reason or another my child was denied access while children from across town were trucked in each day – I would be pissed off. So yes I agree with you. However I would still have the choice to choose another school, anywhere. I might enroll the children somewhere en route closer to work. Rather than be forced to drive 5-10 minutes in the wrong direction to the next school in zone.

    The number of schools closed by Labour is quite stunning, zoning has had it’s benefits I guess.

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  42. Student () says:

    In my zone there are two schools. One private and one public. The public one is popular only amongst those who live in our zone. However, there is a school in the zone next to mine which is becoming more an more popular. Infact, I attend this school, however, to keep it from becoming over-popular it has a very hard entrance examination. Couldn’t this be used to help limit the amount of children willing to attend a school?

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