The Ministry of Education wants to introduce an enrolment zone for Te Awamutu College to prevent overcrowding and cap an ever-growing roll.
The plans of hundreds of students from Kio Kio, Ōtorohanga, Waitomo and Maihiihi are now up in the air as the ministry moves to exclude them from attending Te Awamutu College.
The northern flight up State Highway Three in recent years has put huge pressure on Te Awamutu College’s resources. The school already operates above 85 per cent capacity and its roll is at risk of becoming overcrowded from within its Waipā boundaries. About 250 of its students are enrolled from outside its current school bus zone.
Just this year three new modular classrooms opened at the college to house booming student numbers, up from 1134 five years ago, 1282 last year and 1324 on March 1 this year. That has since gone down to 1292 as senior students have left for jobs or apprenticeships.
Meanwhile 30 minutes down the road, Ōtorohanga College’s roll is on the decline – from 367 in 2017 to 274 this year. The appointment of a limited statutory manager in 2018, a police probe into use of a school laptop, three principals in five years and a run-down boarding hostel have blighted the school’s century-long reputation.
Board chair Duncan Coull welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the consultation process saying he was confident things were on the up and Ōtorohanga College would become the college of choice for the community.
“Our district is poised for growth and the college wants to be part of this in the delivery of great learning outcomes for our students to prepare them for their next chapter in life,” he said.
Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger was unaware of the ministry’s move but was supportive of an enrolment zone.
“This is a good opportunity to sit down and have a think about what we want for schools like Ōtorohanga College.”
Rural electorates like Taranaki-King Country could not afford to see schools run down and students leaving town to attend other secondary schools, she said.
Te Awamutu College deputy principal Wayne Carter and principal Tony Membery have previously met with the ministry and said they would like to see the enrolment scheme in place by next year.
“Until then, our enrolment process will remain as it has operated previously,” said Carter.
Ministry Operations and Integration hautū (leader) Sean Teddy said the proposed zone had been developed with the Te Awamutu College board.
The zone considers a range of geographic, access and community factors.
Once the ministry implements an enrolment scheme, all students already enrolled at the college or living inside the new enrolment scheme home zone and wanting to enrol, are guaranteed a place at the college.
Students living outside the zone can apply, but their enrolment depends on out-of-zone places being available.
Public consultation opened this week and runs until July 22.
A community hui on July 4, is an opportunity for the school community to ask questions and raise any issues or concerns, said Teddy.