Ministry of Education/Supplied
Some parents express shock and disappointment that an enrolment zone has come into force at Nelson’s only co-ed central city school, Nayland College.
A school zone described as “draconian” has come into effect, prompting further calls for the government to re-consider the restrictions.
Opponents fear the Ministry of Education enforced enrolment scheme at Nelson’s Nayland College – implemented last week – could harm some students, by removing their choice of a co-education high school in the inner city.
Principal Daniel Wilson said with around 1480 students, the school was “chock-a-block”, and would not accept any more out-of-zone enrolments this year.
People could apply for an out-of-zone place for next year, from July.
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Wilson confirmed the school’s board of trustees was drafting a letter to the ministry, over concerns out-of-zone non-binary and transgender students would have to apply for a “directed enrolment” to attend the college, and prove significant disadvantage from not being allowed to enrol.
“There are two wonderful schools in town that students do have access to, and there are transgender and non-binary students at those schools already that are being very successful,” Wilson said.
“[But] there might be instances whereby there are particular reasons they can’t have access to those schools.”
Nelson College for Girls and all-boys school, Nelson College, were the only other high schools in the city centre.
The nearest non-zoned co-ed school, state integrated Catholic school Garin College, was about 10 kilometres away, on the other side of Nayland College, in Richmond.
Parent Rebecca Glen, who lived in the central Nelson suburb, Toi Toi, said her daughter was among the first students to be “zoned out” of Nayland College.
While the Year 8 student was more suited to a mixed gender high school, she would “be fine” at Nelson College for Girls, Glen said.
But the ministry was “failing children” by not giving them the choice of co-education, she said.
“If you have young people who are not sure about their gender identity or where they fit … if they don’t have the option, that may just be suppressed more.”
Glen still planned to present a petition to parliament, open until August, calling for co-education to be an option for all high school children.
Meanwhile many people said they would enrol to Nayland College with “a false address” indicating they lived in the zone, she said.
Wilson said parents would have to provide two forms of evidence of address on an application.
“If the names don’t match up, then we will be asking them to approve through a JP or court, that they are legally the guardians of the person that’s living at that address.”
The board would determine the number of out-of-zone places available for 2022, and notify the community by May 28.
A ballot, based on Ministry of Education criteria, would be drawn in September.
Top priority in this instance would be given to applicants who were siblings of current students, followed by those who were siblings of former students, then children of a former student of the school.
In a letter to the ministry in December, Nayland College school board said “the draconian, fiscally driven methodology of applying restrictive access (zoning) based solely on geography” did not “respect the diversity and choice aspects of New Zealand society”.
It said the school’s roll growth could be catered for with extra classrooms.
The ministry said the school’s rapid roll growth over recent years had led to the need for an enrolment scheme to manage the risk of overcrowding.