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Choices Cut As School Enrolment Schemes Increase

14 October 2004

School Choices Cut as School Enrolment Schemes Increase

New figures showing more schools with enrolment schemes in all regions except Auckland mean parents' ability to choose their child's education is on the decline, says Education Forum policy advisor Norman LaRocque.

Official data show the proportion of schools with enrolment schemes -- schemes to limit enrolment at popular schools (more commonly known as zoning) -- increased between 2002 and 2003 from:

* 3.8% to 20% in Nelson/Marlborough/Tasman
* 4% to 17.5% in Hawkes Bay
* 1.9% to 10.8% in Southland
* 5.3% to 14% in the Bay of Plenty
* 9.8% to 17.1% in Wellington.

"These figures are a break with recent historical patterns and they can mean only one thing - less choice in schooling. That can't be good for families," said Mr LaRocque.

The figures, from the Minister of Education's recently-released Report on the Compulsory Schools Sector in New Zealand 2003, also understate the true impact of enrolment schemes on New Zealanders' schooling choices.

The proportion of enrolments in schools with enrolment schemes is likely to be much higher because 'zoned' schools are more likely to have higher enrolments, Mr LaRocque said.

Running contrary to the national trend, the proportion of schools with enrolment schemes in Auckland fell from 42.3% to 36.6%.

"While provincial New Zealanders are doubtless enjoying seeing the gap between Auckland and the provinces reduce in the NPC, they are unlikely to be pleased with this trend in education," Mr LaRocque said


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