1010 refugee pupils swell schools' rolls

Anne TolleyMore than 1000 pupils fleeing Christchurch have now enrolled in Otago schools, and the number continues to grow.

The Ministry of Education has closed the majority of schools in Christchurch until further notice, and families have sent more than 4879 pupils from the city to be enrolled elsewhere.

The ministry has been keeping tabs on the flow of pupils out of the city after the earthquake on February 22, and the latest figures show 1010 pupils (21%) have enrolled in the Otago region.

The majority of pupils are flooding into Queenstown and Wanaka, with 372 pupils enrolling in primary and secondary schools in the area.

Dunedin schools have taken 295 pupils, with Waitaki and Central Otago schools close behind on 167 and 124 respectively.

Clutha schools have also provided support by enrolling 52 pupils.

By Wednesday, nearly 850 pupils from Christchurch had enrolled in Otago, and schools were expecting many more to come.

Schools in Queenstown and Wanaka had attracted many of the refugee pupils because their parents had access to holiday homes in the area.

While some schools were absorbing the unexpected roll increases by making classes bigger and using more than one teacher per room, other schools like Wanaka Primary School were creating new classrooms and employing up to five more teachers to cater for the influx of 115 new pupils.

About 200 primary and secondary school pupils had enrolled in Queenstown and Arrowtown, and almost all of the schools said they had more enrolments pending, or expected more pupils to enrol in the coming weeks.

By the end of next week a plan would be in place to get all Christchurch children back into schools, even those without a school to go to, Education Minister Anne Tolley said yesterday.


Newcomers -
Queenstown Lakes district: 372
Dunedin City: 295
Waitaki district: 167
Central Otago district: 124
Clutha district: 52