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Four schools ‘over capacity’

Fernridge School is one of four Wairarapa schools ‘over capacity’. PHOTO/ELI HILL

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Four Wairarapa schools are over capacity according to the Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins.

Douglas Park School, Fernridge School, Masterton Intermediate School, and Opaki School were named by Hipkins as schools ‘over capacity’.

Douglas Park School principal Gareth Sinton said the school had done extensive refurbishment work over the past two years – going from single celled classrooms to four open learning environments.

“The way our school is structured now with our open learning environment I would never say we are overcrowded even though we meet the minister’s definition of overcapacity.”

Each of the four hubs had excellent acoustics, ventilation and more than the required ministry floorspace so the school had no issues with crowding.

“Twenty-nine new students started last week for a starting roll of 343 students.

“Our roll is relatively stable given that we have none of the new subdivisions within our school zone.

“Our class sizes are pretty good also, especially for our new entrant/year one team.

“We have five teachers working with 48 students, so a ratio of less than 1:10.”

Fernridge School principal Janine Devenport said capacity definitely needed to be managed carefully.

A new development on Ngaumutawa Rd that is zoned for Fernridge means the school will need to find spaces for about 100 extra children in the next eight to 10 years.

Opaki School principal Dave Finlayson said years one, three, four, five, and six had high pupil numbers.

“It’s not overcrowded, but teacher aides and some resources can be stretched a little thin.”

The school roll is about 183 pupils, but due to new entrants by midway through the year it was expected to reach 195 which is about the number Opaki is funded for.

How the roll would be impacted in future was the “million-dollar question”, Finlayson said.

Nationwide, there are 508 schools that have “utilisation rates” of 100 per cent or greater.

Of these 508, 143 exceed their roll by 10 or fewer pupils.


  1. And how many years ago after “public consultation” did they close half the primary schools here? Hopefully the next lot of decisions made will have better planning and listening to the community.

  2. A class of 48 students is twice the size of what I had at school. In fact the school I went to still caps class sizes to a maximum of 24 students which you were lucky enough to meet in senior level. I think Gareth should just accept the minister’s opinion and move with the times.

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