High school year 9 intake rolls mostly rise for 2014

Year 9 rolls are expected to increase by up to 30% for several Dunedin secondary schools next year, and though the boom is not predicted to last, one school is considering reopening a boarding hostel it closed in 2006.

Taieri College principal David Hunter said his year 9 roll was expected to increase about 30% next year, jumping from 130 pupils this year to 170 for 2014.

''There will be an extra year 9 class to accommodate the increase.

''It's good. It's positive,'' Mr Hunter said.

''We are funded for the number of people coming through the gate, but we also focus on the quality of education, and we are careful that we don't substitute that quality with higher rolls.

''It's a careful balancing act.''

He attributed the increased roll to an ebb and flow of pupils at the school.

He said the school's year 9 roll traditionally fluctuated between 130 and 170 pupils.

Otago Girls' High School principal Linda Miller was also expecting a marked increase in year 9 pupils next year, from 165 this year to 194 next year (a 17% increase).

She was not certain about what had caused the growth, but believed it might have something to do with the community's recognition of the school's quality education programmes.

''Dunedin is incredibly well served by its secondary schools; but certainly, community perception does play a large part in where pupils go,'' she said.

Bayfield High School principal Judith Forbes said she, too, was expecting the year 9 roll to be slightly higher in 2014, but would not elaborate.

Other schools spoken to by the Otago Daily Times reported their year 9 intakes for next year were expected to be on a par with previous years.

While King's High School principal Dan Reddiex declined to say how many extra year 9 pupils he was expecting at the school next year, he did say the first-year roll was again ''looking healthy''.

Although he was pleased the school's roll was continuing to grow, he believed the growth was not expected to persist.

In a bid to prepare for the eventual lull in pupil numbers, he said the school was investigating re-establishing its boarding hostel.

The school's former boarding hostel on Macandrew Rd was closed in 2006 after the board of trustees decided there was no longer enough demand to justify its continuation.

It was a trend echoed in many other cities throughout the country.

Mr Reddiex said much of the decision to re-establish a boarding hostel was about the sustainability of the school roll.

With the static rolls projected in Dunedin, he said, the hostel would enable the school to sustain its roll numbers by attracting pupils from outside the city.

''The country boys bring different life perspectives and experiences to the school, which we would encourage.''

As for where and when it would be built, it was still too early to say, Mr Reddiex said.

-john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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