"Huge'' roll growth at Wanaka Primary School has spurred an
approach to the Ministry of Education for more classroom
space - and seems to confirm previous reports of a baby boom
in the town.
In June 2008, to confirm talk of a Wanaka baby boom, the
Otago Daily Times put out a call for babies under 1
year old to be brought to a photo shoot in the town.
More than 60 babies subsequently featured in a group
photograph and article headlined ''Wanaka baby boom bringing
people together'', which detailed a ''significant bump in the
birth statistics'' of the Upper Clutha region.
Five years on, Wanaka Primary School is being inundated with
new entrants - more than 100 per year in 2012 and 2013, and
the same number expected for the next few years based on data
obtained from local preschools.
Statistics for the past two years show a roll growth of
nearly 14%, up from 8% in the preceding years.
Ninety-five new entrants have started at the school this year
and at least 10 more are due to start before the end of next
term. There are four new-entrant classes and a fifth will
soon be added.
''We've had huge growth last year, this year, and huge growth
expected as far as we've projected, which is 2016,'' school
principal Wendy Bamford said.
''By the end of the year, we'll have 24 classes full. We've
got 550 [pupils] now and we'll be closing in on just under
600 by the end of the year.''
The school's roll is capped at 650.
While growth had been anticipated, ''we didn't think it would
be this soon'', Dr Bamford said.
Earlier this year, the school provided the Otago office of
the Ministry of Education with its roll growth figures to
address concerns it was ''running out of space''.
It was hoped the ministry would provide funding for a seventh
pod of classrooms - adding up to six more classrooms over the
next few years.
Ministry of Education deputy secretary, regional operations,
Katrina Casey confirmed the ministry had received a request
for more classroom space from Wanaka Primary School.
''We will consider that request at the earliest opportunity
and inform the school of next steps once the school's
submission and other relevant roll-growth information has
been considered,'' Ms Casey said.
Two other Upper Clutha primary schools have also reported
recent increases in new-entrant numbers.
Holy Family School acting principal Paul Cartlidge said the
school experienced a ''big spike'' last year, with 32 new
entrants compared with the usual 15 to 20.
''This year it seems we have settled back into the normal
trend of about 15 to 20,'' Mr Cartlidge said.
Of the 128 pupils at the Catholic school, 80 were in years 1
''So if you look at the big picture, over the last three to
four years we've definitely seen a lot more growth in the
Hawea Flat School also experienced an increase in new entrant
numbers last year. Principal Sue Heath said in 2011, 22 new
entrants enrolled at the school.
In 2012, the figure jumped to 35, and dropped to about 25