Mt Albert Grammar School’s zone has changed – cutting out the Unitec land where the Government plans to build a new town of up to 4000 homes.
The Ministry of Education has approved the school’s application to amend its zone and the change takes effect from this month, pulling the western boundary back to Carrington Rd.
It follows a move along the same path by Gladstone Primary late last year, with ministry executives saying they are confident existing surrounding schools to the west can cope with the flow from the Unitec land.
As with Gladstone, the step will have no impact on families because, at the moment, children are not living there.
However, with work expected to begin on the first homes around this time next year, it was important for MAGS to make sure it was not swamped by a sudden influx of offspring from a huge new subdivision.
It is already the second largest secondary school in the country, with a present roll of just over 3000 students. To hold numbers, the school has cut back on out-of-zoners, now allowing only siblings of existing pupils – meaning all students, except for those boarding or from overseas, will soon be in-zone.
That will have a steadying influence on the roll growth, though in-zone enrolments are continuing to climb as city planners push the emphasis on high-density housing.
However, a big jump in out-of-zoners may be just around the corner.
The planned new Farm Experience Centre on the school grounds – designed to cater for 500 students seeking primary industries careers – is expected to be open in 2021 or 2022 and is certain to push the roll towards 3500 within five or six years.
The ministry supports the primary industries initiative and, in broad terms, has apparently accepted that a special arrangement is needed to allow out-of-zone students to attend the farm teaching centre.
At the moment, around 150 students follow primary industries courses at MAGS and the expectation is that number will be boosted by perhaps 350 new students coming from across Auckland and elsewhere once the centre is open.
A ministry spokesperson told Mt Albert Inc today: “We are continuing to work with Mt Albert Grammar to ensure that the special programme will meet legislative requirements. This work is ongoing and is aligned to the development of the primary industries teaching centre.”