Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Schools: can we get a plan up in here?

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  • Matthew Poole,

    noting an apparent roll drift from lower to higher decile schools

    A drift which is literally impossible to sustain, by definition, because that's what a decile is: one-tenth of whatever it is that's being measured. If all the kids from Otara have started going to school in Pakuranga instead of in Otara, Pakuranga's schools will have their decile ratings lowered accordingly.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Glenn Pearce,

    If anyone want’s a bit of light reading, here’s the 2010 report commissioned that concluded everything is fine and dandy in the Western Bays

    Thanks!

    The Pt Chev bit:

    As shown in Table 6.5.2 and illustrated in Figure 6.5.2, the roll of Pt. Chevalier Primary School grew slowly between 2006 and 2009 with sustained high new entrant intakes making up for lower than average new entrants intakes in 2001, 2003 and 2005. The July 2009 school roll of 615 was above its estimated capacity of 603 students. The number of 5 to 9 year olds Pt Chevalier East and West area units is estimated to have increased by 2 in line with but slightly less than the modest net increase of 7 projected for 2007 to 2009. Looking ahead, a lightly higher but still fairly low net increase of only 14 primary school age children is projected for 2009 to 2013. The primary school age population is projected to drop subsequent to that.

    These demographic expectations and the momentum of the larger new entrant cohorts of the last few years driving the rolls significantly above current capacity in the short term to 2016 and then dropping down to a level similar to that of 2009.

    This means that action is likely to be needed to manage expansion beyond the school’s current capacity to a July roll of about 640-645 in 2016 compared with the 615 July 2009 roll and 603 capacity, but that pressure is projected to ease with a falling roll in the medium term.

    So by the end of the year, the school will be about 100 students over its capacity.

    But the local population is, in keeping with the Unitary Plan, going to intensify sharply in the medium-to-long term. It seems essential to anticipate and provide for this growth.

    Note that at least one big commercial business seems to already be thinking along these lines. Countdown is said to be planning a fuck-off big new supermarket on the wasteland between Great North Road and the (soon to be widened) motorway.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Jon Briggs, in reply to Russell Brown,

    RE Countdown: a good thing 'cos the existing one feels like shopping in Poland in the 70's.

    Since Dec 2008 • 27 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce, in reply to Russell Brown,

    So by the end of the year, the school will be about 100 students over its capacity.

    Yes, but it's not as straightforward as that, how many year 6's leaving in this year's cohort and how many year 1's forecast for next year?

    And it's tricky because the Year 0/1 all come on in dribs and drabs through the year and the Year 6's all leave at the end. So they haven't actually been 100 over capacity all year at all, far from it.

    Anecdotal I know, but I think it is slowing myself. The next squeeze will be at WSC, that's where the real focus needs to be. IMHO

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 501 posts Report Reply

  • Jon Briggs,

    Pt Chev Primary - Pasadena Int. - Western Springs. My three schools. Wish I could afford to live in these zones so my kids could go there.

    Since Dec 2008 • 27 posts Report Reply

  • Allan Moyle,

    Attachment

    When you look at the development of the Point Chev School site, where did they put 900 kids in the 40's? Image I've created clearly illustrates the significant loss of outdoor space over time (Sources 1940 & 2001 Aerial Photos from Akl Council GIS and 2013 from Google Earth)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Jon Briggs,

    Pt Chev Primary – Pasadena Int. – Western Springs. My three schools. Wish I could afford to live in these zones so my kids could go there.

    Yes. The property spiral in the 13 years we've been here has been crazy, but a couple of friends have found ways to buy, and there are still pockets of Housing NZ properties --- six dwellings in our little cul de sac for a start, and a bigger area opposite Western Springs Stadium.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason,

    Dear David Seymour (ACT spokesperson),

    “Partnership” (aka Charter) schools aren’t even required to have all teachers registered, plus they receive gobs of taxpayer money to try to ensure their success. This is hardly a paragon of quality and efficiency that private sector competition is supposed to produce.

    The elephant in the room here is whether parents are all well enough equipped to choose a decent school for their kids. Given the numbers that are attracted to Steiner Schools (Steiner believed that burying a single horn full of cow dung would elevate pasture productivity) or religious schools that teach creationism, it’s pretty obvious that not many parents are well enough equipped and so the state should step in and set standards. Your precious partnership schools don’t even have to abide by those standards.

    Many parents totally misunderstand the decile system, hence the flight from schools that have low student performance (more due to poverty at home than to anything about the school) to those with high student performance, despite the fact that low decile schools receive more funding in an effort to make up for deficiencies at home. Yet again this demonstrates that parental choice is flawed and not the answer to improving education. If you disagree with this then I have a question for you:

    What is it about the teaching at low decile schools that you believe results in low NZQA performance (i.e.: makes them “poorer” schools)?

    If you can’t answer this question adequately then your arguments fail.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Allan Moyle,

    When you look at the development of the Point Chev School site, where did they put 900 kids in the 40’s? Image I’ve created clearly illustrates the significant loss of outdoor space over time (Sources 1940 & 2001 Aerial Photos from Akl Council GIS and 2013 from Google Earth)

    That's brilliant!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Hopefully they can redevelop the current supermarket site and its dire arcade neighbour into 3-4 storey mixed retail/office/residential.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    Hopefully they can redevelop the current supermarket site and its dire arcade neighbour into 3-4 storey mixed retail/office/residential.

    Yeah, you'd hope so.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg, in reply to Allan Moyle,

    Image I’ve created clearly illustrates...

    If you look closely you should be able to make out the p-lab on Buxton St before it exploded.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    An interesting comparison is between Pt Chev and Te Atatu Peninsula: they're roughly the same size and population, but Te Atatu has three primary schools (and one intermediate, and one high school).

    I find the current staged trade-off between the primary and the kindergarten really sad and frustrating. Yes, the school could certainly do with a little extra breathing space. But if anyone needs those two spaces to be in close proximity, its parents who - for a few years - have children in both kindy and the first years of primary. The logistics of dropping off and picking up wee kids from different institutions at the same time is hard enough as is, without adding separate locations into the mix.

    (Which would also encourage car use over bikes/scooters/ walking, which would only add to the traffic woes when you've got a huge concentration of small kids in one area a couple of times a day).

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Dave Patrick,

    I wouldn't hold your breath for any particularly rapid response from the Ministry of Education. I was on the BOT of Southbrook School in Rangiora for about 12 years, and for probably 8 of those years the Ministry has been talking about creating a new primary school in Rangiora, to cater for the growth in population in Waimakariri in general. Over those 12 years, there has been two full rounds of consultation and surveying of school communities, rumours of half a dozen sites where the school could go, and a general tightening of school zones in Rangiora (every primary school in Rangiora has an enrolment zone, and every semi-rural school for about half an hour's travel in every direction).

    The sum result of all this heat? Bugger all. No new school, no definite site purchase, increasingly full schools and, in Southbrook School's case, increasing pressure on the small amount of playground space they have available.

    Rangiora, Te Wai Pounamu • Since Nov 2006 • 261 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Some information from the Ministry about decile calculations:

    A school provides its student addresses and these are used to determine which areas its students come from.

    The student addresses are assigned to the smallest Census areas, called meshblocks. A meshblock contains around 50 households. However, only Census information for households with school-aged children is used. The number and percentage of students from each meshblock is determined and the meshblock is examined against five socio-economic factors.

    Note: It is not the general area around the school that is used to calculate the decile, but the specific meshblocks where students live.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Allan Moyle,

    Mt Eden Primary School which has had a long constrained site has had to go up to keep pace with its roll growth. (Roll ~ 630) It has what looks like a 70's era 3 level building facing the the Valley Rd frontage. And since 2000 has added two further 2 storey, 6 classroom blocks to replace a sprawl of prefabs. These are very effective in keeping the evelopment footprint to minimum and guarding/aggregating what open space the site has left. A good example for consideration by other sites.
    It is hard to see how the Mt Eden site could effectively take any further development though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Also, remember the Ministry's first proposal was to either a) continue building at Pt Chev Primary as long as necessary to contain the increasing student roll - pretty grim, given they've endured a decade of being a building site and have one of the smallest open spaces of any urban school in NZ -- or b) transform Pasadena Intermediate into a "full primary" - adding junior classes to the current Year 7/8.

    I had very mixed feelings on this proposal, especially with one child at each school, and a weather-eye on how the community looked set to tear itself apart when faced with this divide-and-conquer approach from the Ministry.

    As constructed, Option A was pretty unpalatable, so at first glance Option B might have seemed the obvious thing to do. Pasadena has a reasonable amount of space (albeit not little-kid friendly at the moment, given the surrounding stream; and certainly not able to accommodate primary-school car drop-off traffic). And it has a smallish roll (a perceptible upwardly-mobile-flight towards Ponsonby is part of that, but not the whole story -- and it's a pretty ironic and transient phenomenon in the light of Ponsonby Intermediate's own history, given that Ponsonby was in a "poor cousin" position relative to Pasadena not all that long ago).

    And yet... given the current government's enthusiasm for closing intermediate schools and bundling them into mega-schools, I decided that option B was something to resist on principle.

    I'd started out sceptical of separate intermediate schooling, not having been through it myself (Catholic primary) -- and have become a convert to the middle-school philosophy as I've watched my older son go through Pasadena. It's not been without bumps - and his mates who went to Ponsonby have encountered different but equal bumps - but it's been wonderful to watch him and his cohort blossoming.

    Those years between primary and secondary are pretty magical on many levels: the kids are no longer infants, but not yet on the growing-up escalator to figuring out what do do with their lives, and sitting exams in some subjects and not others.

    I love the way Intermediate lets pre-adolescents take turns being junior and then senior, and the way it lets them mix socially before being split up again into subjects and streams and social groups. Pasadena, for example, draws kids from Westmere, Mt Albert/Carrington, Waterview, Western Springs and Pt Chev, and mixes them into mixed-age mixed-ability classrooms of both years 7 and 8. The kids do art, music, sport, water safety, technical subjects, kapa haka, marae visits, zoo activities, overseas exchanges, Lego robot competitions, etc etc. For what it is, it's a pretty cool little school, looking to keep growing under a new principal as of the end of this year.

    Not to mention, Pasadena is the only dedicated intermediate that local kids, mine included, can get to on their own two feet (or own two wheels). That's a bottom line for me, and it was a huge part of why we came back to NZ: a decent array of reliably good neighbourhood schools that are accessible to the people they serve.

    I'd be really loath for our community (any community) to be obliged to sacrifice that dedicated bubble of time-and-space -- and a school with a long and proud tradition -- just because Council and the Ministry had screwed up the question of whose job it was to set space aside for projected population growth. (Honestly, how can you write permits for infill housing for 30 years without asking yourself where all the kids are going to go to school!)

    Yes, of course change is possible, and schools will necessarily get denser as housing gets denser, short of building them on golf courses and reserves. And of course full primaries and different school arrangements can be made to work successfully in many different ways. No problem with that. And if the main reasons for rearranging inner-city schools along these lines were pedagogical ones? Fine.

    But they're not: this is all about convenience. And I'm not comfortable with eliminating educational options just to make up for elementary planning failures by entities that should have known better -- or worse still, doing it to smooth the way for mega-schools and the corporations that would love to run them.

    TL; DR: don't rush to foreclose the only local intermediate school just to suit some suits.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • John Holley,

    The MoE does seem to be supporting 2 story class block now, as was done recently at Reremoana School. The trouble is that the MoE is always starting the building after the spare capacity at a school is gone. This normally means libraries/resource rooms/halls/meeting rooms being taken up for temporary classes - so we have children learning in sub-optimal environments. The MoE then throws in pre-fabs (with significant cost for all the services) for 2-3 terms and then rips them out when the new blocks are built.

    If someone did some cost analysis of this "crisis" build model I am sure the numbers would look terrible. Of course the challenge is that the MoE is having to balance a budget while building new classes *and* repairing the leaky classrooms across the region and the country.

    No easy answers here but the short term planning from the MoE is exacerbating the problems schools face.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The only school with as many pupils per square metre of site is Mt Cook in Wellington, which has only 100 pupils.

    Erm, not quite sure where you got the 100 from. Mt Cook has about 210 students, maybe more by the end of the year. The roll has been grown a bit in the last 10 years - maybe by 20 students or so, so they've had to introduce a zone, but I don't know when they were 100 pupils

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

  • Graham Dunster, in reply to barnaclebarnes,

    <The other interesting thing about Western Springs is that it is the only mainstream school that boys can go to if they live in the CBD/Ponsonby/Freemans bay/St Marys Bay. It isn’t just Pt Chev that is feeding Western Springs. With greater density and more people living in the city it is going to get a lot worse. I’m wondering if there are any plans for a new unisex high school to cater for the CBD?

    WSC is not unisex, it's mixed. There are plenty of unisex schools in the CBD etc area, not so many mixed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2009 • 184 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Graham Dunster,

    WSC is not unisex, it’s mixed. There are plenty of unisex schools in the CBD etc area, not so many mixed.

    Yet another victim of the ridiculous word “unisex”, which pretty much means “mixed”, despite what it looks like. Stoopid English language.

    ETA: "Unisex" does not mean "single sex". It means "one for all sexes". Which is the exact opposite.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce, in reply to Graham Dunster,

    There are plenty of unisex (I assume you mean single sex) schools in the CBD etc area, not so many mixed.

    Where are these please? Auckland Girls Grammar is the only one I'm aware of.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 501 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Glenn Pearce,

    Isn't St Mary's still single sex?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce, in reply to BenWilson,

    The original post referred to "mainstream", I assume that excludes St Marys and St Pauls.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 501 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Glenn Pearce,

    The original post referred to “mainstream”, I assume that excludes St Marys and St Pauls.

    I guess. They're not state, or private, but "Integrated", meaning the state pays but they retain their "character", which I presume means they're still religiously oriented.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

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