School rolls rising, despite Covid exit predictions

Expats and Aucklanders are filling up places at Queenstown schools and most rolls are increasing, despite predictions they would be hit by people leaving the area because of Covid-19.

Remarkables Primary School principal Debbie Dickson said it was an interesting time, as more than 20 new children had arrived without warning to boost the school’s roll to 565.

"We have people from Invercargill, Auckland, New Plymouth, Canada, Australia, the UK ... A range of people have moved into the area over Christmas."

The school had the full quota of teachers at the moment, but as it took on more children throughout the year it would would look to absorb more relief staff into full-time roles, she said.

The issue was the harder task of then replenishing those reserves lists.

Space was at a premium and four new classrooms were planned, two to be added to an existing annexe and the others to make up a new, separate block. Work began on the "two-classroom pod" last week, construction firm Cook Brothers putting the buildings together on the playing fields ready to crane into position when the foundations were ready.

Mrs Dickson said the school would look to redesign the zoning for pupils once Te Kura Whakatipu o Kawarau opened at Hanley’s Farm, after which numbers were likely to fall.

Elsewhere, Queenstown Primary School’s roll grew from 616 last June to 647 this week.

Shotover Primary School jumped from 494 to 522 and expected more in the coming weeks.

At the state-integrated religious schools, St Joseph’s increased by six and KingsView remained the same.

Glenorchy School had one pupil fewer than last June, at 30.

The area’s only secondary education provider, Wakatipu High School, had a minor increase, 1120 pupils attending this week.

Principal Steve Hall said as with everywhere, this number would change over the coming months.

Mr Hall said it was not unusual for pupils to be joining from around New Zealand, but there were also some pupils starting who had been living abroad.

It bucked an expectation some held that the school roll would decrease following Covid-19, but the school had anticipated and planned for some growth, he said.

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