Zone concerns raised 

Te Awamutu college

A proposed enrolment zone for Te Awamutu College at the start of 2023 makes sense – but it will divide school chums and siblings in some rural communities.

College deputy principal Wayne Carter says the enrolment zone is what is best for his school and community.

“An enrolment scheme means we can staff and timetable the school with absolute certainty… rather than having a potential walk-up of population at the start of the year of 25 or more enrolments,” he said.

But in the Ōtorohanga district, one principal sees potential problems.

And there are questions over where the line of the southern boundary is proposed, because it cuts through rural communities.

The enrolment zone map is open for public submissions until July 22.

One rural school raising concerns is Maihiihi, which sits just outside of the proposed zone. The school saw 70 per cent of its year eight students leave for Te Awamutu College last year.

“It would make planning and preparing for next year a lot harder for our families and may cause anxiety in some of our students who have siblings already at the college or are currently attending Te Awamutu Intermediate,” said principal, Vanessa Hinerangi Koroa.

She said the proposed zone would limit parental choice, and students would be required to go through a ballot system to get the chance of going to the college.

The News reported last week that while Te Awamutu College’s roll had boomed, numbers at Ōtorohanga High School were dropping and the plans of hundreds of students from Kio Kio, Ōtorohanga, Waitomo and Maihiihi were now up in the air as the ministry considered the zoning option.

Ōtorohanga College board chair Duncan Coull said he is confident “things were on the up” and Ōtorohanga would become the college of choice for the community.

Of Te Awamutu College’s 1300 students, about 250 came from out of zone areas this year, including 120 from the Ōtorohanga area.

“Without an enrolment scheme, you can’t turn those kids away, so that is a big unknown and it was a big potential for us to be caught out this year,” Wayne Carter said.

It took the college from September to December to timetable classes and finalise the next year’s enrolments, but often out of zone applications complicate the process.

Carter first approached the Ministry of Education two years ago to discuss the enrolment zone’s implementation.

The pressure on Te Awamutu College was acknowledged by the ministry at the start of this year when it fast-tracked the arrival of  three modular classrooms to accommodate extra students.

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