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Booming Auckland suburb to get seven new schools

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  • Booming Auckland suburb to get seven new schools

    Booming Auckland suburb to get seven new schools

    Tuesday May 23, 2006
    By Simon O'Rourke

    Education Minister Steve Maharey will today announce an outlay of "hundreds of millions of dollars" to construct seven new schools in the fast growing Flat Bush area of South Auckland.

    But the plan could be controversial, with hints that it will include "junior high schools" against the wishes of the community.

    New schools in the area are needed quickly. The number of residents in Flat Bush is set to explode over the next 15 years. The population is predicted to go from 3000 people to an estimated 40,000 by 2021.

    During a community consultation phase that discussed future primary and secondary education needs in the area, locals said they did not want separate schools that catered to children in Years 7 to 10 (Form 1 to 4) - an idea proposed by the ministry.

    Baverstock Oaks School principal Mary Wilson said people instead wanted their primary schools to cater to pupils until they reached the age of 12.

    From that point, pupils would go on to a conventional high school.

    However, Mrs Wilson said indications were that Mr Maharey and ministry advisers had chosen to ignore such pleas. "There will be a backlash if that's the case."

    Junior high schools had failed in the United States, and they would fail here too, she said.

    "It will be interesting to see what Steve Maharey announces."

    Details of the announcement are being kept under wraps until 11.30am.

    Mr Maharey will outline Government plans and funding at a proposed new school site on the corner of Jeffs Rd and Valderama Rd, Manukau City.

    Mrs Wilson said a "select group" of people had been invited, and she would not be attending although two of her school's board members would.

    Details on funding, construction timelines, and campus locations will be made. It will also be revealed whether junior high schools are on the agenda.

    Mr Maharey's office said it was the " biggest investment in new schools in one area under a Labour-led Government".

    Flat Bush was set to become the country's largest new town over the next decade, the office said.

    A spokesman told the Herald the investment was worth "in the hundreds of millions".

    Strategy documents show Baverstock Oaks School - which opened last year - will in the next few years be joined by another primary school (Years 1 to 6) on Jeffs Rd, together with a junior high school (Years 7 to 10).

    Land for those developments has already been bought by the ministry. It is expected the Jeffs Rd campus will be opened some time between 2008 and 2011.

    A Government Notice of Requirement has also been served on Manukau City Council for a further primary school and a junior high school on Ormiston Rd, as well as a senior secondary school (Years 11 to 13).

    All three schools will be located on the one site, each run by its own principal.

    One example of a multi-school campus is Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate in Otara.

    Investigations are under way for two other sites in the southwestern and southeastern areas of Flat Bush, where two more primary schools are proposed.

    Documents show a primary school in the southwestern pocket of the town will be required some time after 2010, by which time a senior college on Ormiston Rd will also be needed.

    The primary school in the southeastern part of town is predicted to be one of the last to come on-stream, about 2015-2016.

    All school sites will contain early childhood centres.


    A year ago Prime Minister Helen Clark opened Baverstock Oaks School in Botany Downs to a roll of just 90.

    Now principal Mary Wilson says she is operating with a roll of 320.

    At the beginning of this year, six classes at the school began without any classroom accommodation.

    One class had to use the library, and another made use of a resource room.

    The four remaining classes had makeshift accommodation and teachers were forced to cope under "trying conditions".

    Mrs Wilson criticised the Ministry of Education for being too late in reacting to growth in the area.

    However, more rooms are being built to cater for 700 children by the end of next year, and the roll is expected to be nearly 1000 by the end of 2008.

    Mrs Wilson said immigrants were driving the growth.

    "Seventy-seven per cent of our parents were born overseas, and 54 per cent of our kids were born overseas.

    "We've got children from South Africa, India, Asia, Russia, Switzerland, England and Scotland. And we've got some Kiwis too."

    Research shows the Flat Bush area will grow in population from its current level of 3000 to about 40,000 by 2021.

    It is predicted that 4000 of them will be children aged between 5 and 10 and 4550 aged between 11 and 17.

    "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx