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Waikino principal Jo Wheway wants Year 7 and 8 students to be able to stay at her school should they choose to. Photo: KELLEY TANTAU

Waikino School fights for full status

A Hauraki school is left wondering why it’s not allowed to accept students in Year 7 and 8, an option its principal says would be beneficial to tamariki not ready for a “jump in learning”.
Waikino School has been trying to get the Ministry of Education to approve enrolment for Year 7 and 8 pupils (ages 10-13) since 2019, but principal Jo Wheway says her attempts have been unsuccessful.
Now, a proposed enrolment scheme for the neighbouring Karangahake School has motivated Jo to try again.
“Ninety-nine per cent of our kids go to Waihī College, which has an intermediate, and most of our kids are ready to go to that intermediate,” she explained.
“So if we have an option for kids to stay, it’s actually only for those who aren’t developmentally ready for that next big jump in learning.”
The proposed enrolment scheme for Karangahake School extends enrolment for Year 7s and 8s further than its enrolment for Year 1-6s.
It spans eastwards to include the area surrounding Waikino School, securing the option for Waikino leavers to enrol at Karangahake, 6km away across the gorge.
Jo would instead prefer the option of Year 7 and 8s staying at Waikino, should they choose to.
“It may not be significant numbers, but it’s what that child needs,” she said. “Most are happy to go off to the college… but moving school for two years, to then move schools again is quite a stupid thing to do to a child because it’ll mess them up on their journey.”
Jo surveyed her students’ parents and one called the proposal “absurd”.
“The children of Waikino have developed strong relationships through all year levels. To force them to move schools would be detrimental to all areas of their development,” they said. “It is a real concern this has even been proposed.”
Another said their child should not be “pushed” out of the school because of “zoning bureaucracy”.
“Waikino is a very holistic, special, and unique school, and my son needs Waikino as much and as long as possible for his educational hauora.”
Ministry of Education hautū (leader) operations and integration Sean Teddy told The Profile consultation on the proposed Karangahake School zone was currently underway, and Waikino School had been sent the information on where to make a submission to the process.
“When making a decision on whether or not to establish an enrolment zone, the Ministry of Education considers how to make best use of the schooling network and manage the school roll in order to protect the school from overcrowding,” he said.
“Consideration is also given to natural boundaries, current transport entitlement zones for schools, and any enrolment schemes already in place at neighbouring or contributing schools.”
The Ministry of Education did not say why Waikino School was not able to accommodate Year 7 and 8 students.