High school principals positive as year starts with bigger rolls, more teachers

Mason Stretch
Mason Stretch
More pupils and enough staff have started the year on the right foot for Central Otago secondary schools.

Cromwell College principal Mason Stretch said there were about 40 more pupils at the school this year, bringing the roll up to 650. That had led to an extra staff member being employed.

The construction of new technology and art block buildings had begun and should be finished in February next year.

"Overall, I believe our students are very fortunate to have such a wide range of opportunities, an involved and supportive community and caring dedicated staff. Students are supported to succeed in our kura [school]," Mr Mason said.

Literacy and numeracy were at the forefront of learning across the school and were critical to achievement across all curriculum areas, he said.

At the start of the term a mihi whakatau (welcome) was held for new staff and pupils.

Nicola Jacobsen
Nicola Jacobsen
"At the heart of this is manaaki or kindness and care. Manaaki is a core value of our school. The welcome ensures the path is cleared for them and they quickly feel part of our place."

As well as classroom-based learning the busy first term would include interhouse swimming and athletics competitions, a meet-the-teacher afternoon, academic mentoring, year 13 leadership, camps for years 7 and 10 and preparations for a school production.

Dunstan High School, in Alexandra, had a slight increase of about 20 in its roll for 2024.

Principal Reece Goldsmith said while the school had a full complement of staff for the 585 pupils, one teacher would not arrive until term two. Their place was being filled by a temporary staff member for the first term. The increased roll had also brought extra staff.

"It is great to have our science block ready to go as this time last year it was under construction, which meant we had lots of pressure on teaching space as we had five teaching spaces unavailable."

The addition of heatpumps to another 12 classrooms at the beginning of the year was a very welcome addition on hot summer days, Mr Goldsmith said.

Reece Goldsmith
Reece Goldsmith
"Once we complete refurbishments in our maths block, all our main blocks will be what I consider outstanding learning spaces highlighting how well resourced the school is."

An extraordinary number of new pupils started the year from all over New Zealand and the world, he said.

"We are looking forward to a year free of lockdowns and industrial disputes while being full of powerful learning, positive experiences and personal growth."

Mount Aspiring College started the year with 1300 pupils, up from 1240 in 2023.

Principal Nicola Jacobsen said the redevelopment of the college meant it had enough classrooms and it was fully staffed.

"Life at school is better for staff and students."

The government ban on cellphones at school would be helpful, she said.

Melissa Bell
Melissa Bell
The school’s NCEA, literacy and numeracy results were excellent and deserved to be celebrated, Mrs Jacobsen said.

"I am excited to meet our new students and their families, and staff, and to welcome back our current students, families and staff.

"We all want to see the young people in our lives be able to achieve their goals, and leave school ready with what they need for their next step."

Maniototo Area School, in Ranfurly, had an extra 12 pupils which brought the roll up to 150.

Principal Melissa Bell said the school was well-equipped and staffed for the year.

Two new subjects — senior history and film and drama — had been introduced for the senior school.

The new gym was on track for completion later in the year, Mrs Bell said.