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Frequently asked questions Updated April 2020)


1. What are the benefits of a local secondary school?

Local schooling maintains community networks and minimises travel. Families take pride living in our community and have a strong desire to see it develop more sustainably. Local secondary schools provide a major service and strengthen communities. Families stay in the area, rather than moving away for secondary education. Importantly, children are able to envisage their future at secondary school and they know they have a role in the community.

2. How do I find out about local secondary schools?

State secondary schools hold open nights in May. The dates are advertised on individual school websites and in community papers. We recommend visiting secondary schools in both years 7 and 8. This helps students envisage their education path and eases their transition to secondary school. Most years two or more schools have open nights on the same day. If you can only visit one school it really helps to have seen the other school the year before.

Read or print NESE’s booklet “Investigating Secondary Schools Booklet” from NESE’s website. Find it under the documents tab. Print the booklet to read at your leisure. It only uses two A4 pages. Discuss topics with your family and friends. Print on both sides, flipping on the short edge. Fold it in half.

3. Where are our co-ed secondary schools?

Our closest co-ed secondary schools are Mairehau High School and Haeata Community Campus. Both schools have enrolment schemes (zones) which include North East Christchurch communities. Both schools currently accept out of zone applications.

4. Does our area have a large enough population to support a local co-ed high school?

NESE began advocating for a local secondary school in 2009. At the time there were 2,200 children attending six local primary schools and 500 secondary school students. The population decline following the earthquakes has reversed. 2020 school roll numbers show an increase to 2,700 primary students and nearly 2,000 secondary students. Avonside Girls’ and Shirley Boys’ High Schools are near capacity. When all the student places at Mairehau High School and Haeata Community College are filled, a case could be developed supporting a local co-ed secondary school.

5. How much does it cost to send a student to Secondary School?

Secondary school costs are significantly more than primary school costs. Different schools charge very different amounts. You might like to investigate this. Individual schools charge different amounts for their stationary, work books, parent contribution, music lessons, sports, trips, technology etc. Ask schools to itemise their expenses for you to help your budgeting. There are also considerable differences between the costs of uniforms between different secondary schools. Bus fare – even discounted by using a Metrocard costs about $600 per year. BYOD (bring your own device) is something you should provide for your child if possible. Each school has different requirements for the devices they recommend students have. Get advice from your secondary school about the minimum requirements.

6. How are secondary school zones decided?

We believe all secondary schools should be zoned to ensure every student has a clear education pathway. Zone catchments should be logically placed to support and enhance established communities.

All Christchurch state secondary schools now have zones. They can be viewed on the individual school’s website. School Boards are required to review their zones annually.

NESE’s preference for single sex schools to have a separate zone layer has been implemented in Christchurch. The zones of single sex schools are now organised differently, in a separate dual layer set above the co-ed secondary school zone layer. The zones for Avonside Girls’ and Shirley Boys’ High Schools are identical.

NESE wrote “NESE’s School Zone Document” which can be read on NESE’s website under the documents tab. It shares our community’s ideas for well-considered school zones that support local communities.

7. What does “two schools on one site” at the QEII Park campus actually mean?

Avonside Girls’ High School and Shirley Boys’ High School are now located on one site providing opportunities for the two schools to share facilities, while retaining their own independent identities. The schools will continue to operate independently, with each school maintaining their own Principal, Board of Trustees and their individual character and focus. Students spend most of their day in a single sex learning environment. Students have the added educational and social advantages of being able to work alongside and interact with the students from the other school.

8. Which secondary schools suit students with mobility needs or special learning needs

Mairehau High School has a Supported Learning Centre. All of their current buildings are single story with mobility access provision.

Haeata Community Campus has facilities for disabled students including a lift. All main student buildings are at ground level with wide doors and wheelchair access bathrooms. A satellite unit of Ferndale Special Education School catering for students with high needs is located on the campus.

The Avonside Girls’ and Shirley Boys’ High School campus has facilities for disabled students including five lifts. A satellite unit of Ferndale Special Education School catering for students with high needs is located on the campus.

9. What is the future role for NESE?

Our community’s desire is for a local co-ed secondary school. Not all of our community’s goals have been satisfied by the relocation of Shirley Boys’ and Avonside Girls’ High Schools to QEII Park. We will continue to invest our time and energy towards positive results for all of the families in North East Christchurch.

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