Pupils do not belong to a school

January 24th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Press reports:

Schools in Christchurch’s west need to stop enrolling so many pupils from struggling schools in the east, an Aranui principal says.

Aranui High School principal John Rohs is even calling on the Ministry of Education to intervene before rolls in the east fall even further.

More young people from the east were travelling further afield to go to high school, he said.

A pupil doesn’t belong to the school they live closest to. If families are choosing to go to schools further afield, the problem is not them making that choice. The problem is why they do not find the local school satisfactory.

Ministry figures released to The Press under the Official Information Act show three state co-educational schools in the city’s west have increased the number of out-of-zone pupils since 2009. They deny deliberately poaching pupils from the east.

The figures show Burnside High School had 125 out-of-zone pupils in 2009, or 5 per cent of its roll, and last year it had 423 (17 per cent).

But Burnside High School principal Warwick Maguire said the ministry figures were wrong. He said the school consistently enrolled about 20 to 25 per cent of its pupils from out-of-zone each year and was trying to reduce its out-of-zone numbers, not increase them.

The school, which has a roll of 2600 pupils, could have taken a lot more out-of-zone pupils than it did this year, Maguire said.

It had 750 out-of-zone pupils take part in the ballot to start at year 9 this year and the school took about 480, which was fewer than last year.

“If we took all the people that wanted to come here we would be 3000-plus and that would have a bad effect on other schools.”

My concern is the effect on the achievement levels of students, not on schools. Let Burnside be 4,000 if they wish to be I say.

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15 Responses to “Pupils do not belong to a school”

  1. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Let Burnside be 4,000 if they wish to be I say.

    So we pay for them to expand their campus to accommodate 4000, and in 10 years time, the principal changes, and some other school become highly regarded, and we have to pay to expand their facilities to meet demand.

    And then it changes back, and we have to rebuild up somewhere else, while the new facilities at some other school are wasted because they are no longer needed, etc. etc.?

    [DPF: Absolutely. Kids getting a good education far far more important than property. And schools can be multi-campuses. Burnside could run campuses at the sites of failed schools]

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  2. virtualmark (1,528 comments) says:

    So Graeme if, as you contend, this demand for out-of-zone schools is due to the relative performance of the various school principals (and I partly agree with you) then perhaps the solution is to replace John Rohs the underperforming principal with someone who knows that they’re doing?

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  3. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    That wasn’t what I was contending.

    I was asserting that DPF’s idea – which in the current system would require the government to fund capital works at schools based on potentially transient effects – might be a major waste of taxpayer money, and that he might like to think about it a little more.

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  4. virtualmark (1,528 comments) says:

    And I agree with you. Rather than overbuilding Burnside (in the example DPF lists) we the taxpayer would be better off making Aranui more attractive.

    Wonder what we could do?

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  5. Kimble (4,440 comments) says:

    I read it as a rhetorical device, tying the concluding sentence to the title.

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  6. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    I read it as a rhetorical device, tying the concluding sentence to the title.

    DPF has made similar comments previously about allowing schools to grow as big as they want, so my assumption was that it wasn’t simply rhetorical.

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  7. Viking2 (11,471 comments) says:

    WHY, does the govt. need to build any schools??????
    Plenty of money looking for investments.

    When will we stop being so bloody pedantic about need to own buildings?

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  8. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    [DPF: Absolutely. Kids getting a good education far far more important than property. And schools can be multi-campuses. Burnside could run campuses at the sites of failed schools]

    And how high will taxes need to go to fund this?

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  9. Paulus (2,628 comments) says:

    I suggest that to make Aranui local school more favoured probably starts with getting a new Principal.
    Someone, probably not with a typical Union attitude to mediocrity, being the best that the school can attain.
    Probably some of the teachers need to be replace with people of a positive attitude.
    Wow – the Unions will fight all that, and we will watch Aranui continue it’s slide.

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  10. tvb (4,425 comments) says:

    Why not franchise the management of good schools to take over the bad schools. And allow pupils from all the franchisees to mix and match. Bet the teachers unions will hate that. Unfortunately Hekia Parata does not have the political skills to implement anything except the most mundane policies.

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  11. kowtow (8,487 comments) says:

    Is any of this “white flight”?

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  12. BeaB (2,123 comments) says:

    The longterm problem with schools like Aranui HS is the population of their catchment – in this case not what aspirational parents want for their kids so they look further afield for good middle class schools in better areas. It’s not snobbery – just the realistic assessment that your kid will do better sitting next to other kids who are aiming for, for instance, the professions than sitting next to kids who are already familiar with the local WINZ office and want to spend the day goofing off or high as kites.

    If parents in Christchurch could vote with their feet, unrestricted by zones, it would quickly become clear what the reorganisation of the schools should look like. And then the Ministry would have community support as parents are relieved of the stress of angling to get their kids into the better schools.

    Many good principals have worn themselves out trying to build up schools like Aranui with innovations like sports academies but they are, sadly, just about always doomed to failure.

    So why force parents to send their kids to unpopular schools? With so many prefab classrooms these days it’s not hard to shrink or expand a school to meet demand. And it’s still the same number of kids overall so teachers keep their jobs.

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  13. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    Is any of this “white flight”?

    There aren’t many Maoris down there, east Chch is more of a white trash area. (So; no ;-) )

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  14. Kimble (4,440 comments) says:

    And how high will taxes need to go to fund this?

    If good schools expand, and bad ones close, surely there would be some closed schools available for the expanding schools to buy?

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  15. Psycho Milt (2,412 comments) says:

    Absolutely. Kids getting a good education far far more important than property.

    I smell a false premise. Any evidence that current popularity of any particular school among parents is strongly correlated with teacher performance? Because if current popularity is instead correlated more with stuff like bullshit gossip among parents based on the middle classes not wanting their kids to attend school with children of the proletariat and lumpenproletariat, what you’re in fact proposing is open-ended expenditure to no useful purpose.

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