Let students decide

The ODT reports:

The Ministry of Education is being asked to step up and take responsibility for finding a solution to the city’s declining secondary school rolls, rather than asking the schools’ leaders to solve the problem. …

Solutions proposed by school leaders so far include closing one or more secondary schools in the city, establishing enrolment zones or implementing roll caps.

But what is the problem?

The ministry has encouraged the discussions because the latest March roll overall figures show Dunedin secondary school rolls have dropped by 743 pupils between 2005 and 2015, equivalent to the size of a secondary school.

Adding to concerns is the imbalance in pupil enrolments, where pupils are flooding into a select few schools, such as King’s High School, at the expense of other schools.

I don’t regard that as a problem. That is families and students exercising choice.

Bayfield High School principal Judith Forbes said it was great the ministry had asked schools to contribute to the discussion, but she, too, believed it was unlikely schools would agree on a solution.

She said her ideal solution would be a cap on all Dunedin secondary rolls.

In other words punish the schools that are succeeding, reward the schools that are doing less well, and remove choice from students and parents.

Wouldn’t a better discussion be to determine why so many students are wanting to attend King’s High School, and try to emulate that elsewhere?

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