200 Christchurch pupils enrolled

About 200 Christchurch primary and secondary school pupils are now enrolled in Queenstown and Arrowtown schools as families continue to leave Christchurch after last month's earthquake.

Queenstown Primary School now has 45 Christchurch children enrolled, St Joseph's School 15, Kingsview School 2, and there are about 60 at Arrowtown School, 34 at Remarkables Primary School and 45 at Wakatipu High School.

Almost all the schools said they had more enrolments pending, or were expecting more pupils to enrol in the coming weeks.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council met community representatives on Friday to discuss the effects of the disaster and gauge the impact of the large numbers of displaced people being welcomed into the community.

Findings from the meeting are expected to be released today.

School principals said it was unknown how long the pupils, whose ages span all levels from primary new entrants to the last year of high school, will attend Queenstown schools.

"It's hard to tell," Queenstown Primary School principal John Western said.

"Two children have already returned to Christchurch, and some other children's families have entered into long-term rental agreements."

Wakatipu High School deputy principal Grant Adolph said, while some people indicated they would stay, some were here short term and some pupils were returning to Queenstown from boarding schools. Everything depended on what happened in Christchurch, he said.

"We don't know and the families don't know, and our approach is that we are here for as long as what they feel is needed."

The general consensus among schools was that pupils were settling in well, although some were reported to be anxious, upset and "a bit lost".

"Their parents have said that it's a blessing that children are back at school and they have something to focus on," Arrowtown School principal Robin Harris said regarding his Christchurch pupils.

"It certainly has made them more relaxed. There obviously have been tears and people upset, and that's totally understandable, but by and large they are settling in well and seem to be making friends."

Some schools have been making counselling support available to pupils who request it, and Wakatipu High School has set up a "buddy programme" to help new pupils get to know the school.

"There are a number of students who were right in the thick of it in the town square, and people that were on their way home," Mr Adolph said.

"We are enrolling them and treating them as our own and endeavouring to put together a personalised education plan for each student so that they can normalise life as much as they can, so they can continue learning."

Principal of St Joseph's School Trisch Inders also reported, in addition to Parent Teacher Association and Strengthening Families Trust support, the Ministry of Education had been of great assistance.


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