Board Decision on the Future of Year 7 and 8 at Ridgway School

The Board has decided to apply to the Ministry of Education (MoE) for Ridgway to become a contributing primary school, with students attending SWIS in year 7&8 (the vote was: 5 in favour, 2
against and one abstention).

The reason for this decision is that the board wants to avoid the uncertainty that is created for tamariki, families and teachers by being in zone for two schools catering for the intermediate age
group. This change will enable the school to prepare the children for a smooth transition while allowing the management of the school to better plan for the year ahead for the whole school. It
supports our aim of all students experiencing belonging as a cohort, transitioning together to their next school.

The final decision sits with the MoE and given the uncertainty around the SWIS zoning, the outcome of our application is also uncertain. A timeframe for this decision is not set, the MoE advises this
process takes approximately 3 terms. Needless to say, we will ensure there is a long lead in time for the change. More information about the rationale can be found below:

Link to analysis of survey in google sheets

Decision on future of Year 7&8’s at Ridgway

The board has consulted with the community on the possibility of Ridgway School becoming a Contributing Primary School (Year 1-6) rather than a Full Primary School (Year 1-8). We thank the community for their feedback. As part of this consultation the board has also sought the views of staff, year 4-6 students, SWIS and other neighbouring schools.   

The community consultation has provided the board with valuable insights and has raised many requests for further information which the board has now actioned or provided. (All information can be found at

Summary of consultation responses:

  • Staff have a variety of views in regard to the proposal. Some prefer to retain the status quo and others consider certainty (of numbers) would benefit student wellbeing at year 6 and enable management to focus on the needs of children in the school without the distraction caused each year by the choice to stay or go. 

  • Often the decision in Year 6 causes considerable stress and anxiety for students and families;

  • There is support for a smooth transition to SWIS which would be possible if all children from Ridgway made the move together.  This would allow the school to work with SWIS to provide information and celebrate Year 6 leavers;

  • Children cite friendships and Ridgway/SWIS being a good school as their main reason for both staying at Ridgway or moving to SWIS;

  • There is support for retention of Year 7&8 at Ridgway;

  • Most people express a desire to have the choice to attend SWIS or Ridgway at Year 7&8 and many believe that some students flourish making the move to SWIS while some flourish in a smaller school;

  • If we retain Year 7&8, it is possible that the impending SWIS zone will exclude part of the Ridgway zone, removing this choice for up to half of Ridgway students.

(More detailed notes from the community feedback are in Appendix A below)

The Board’s decision

The Board has decided to apply to the Ministry of Education (MoE) for Ridgway to become a Contributing Primary school, with students attending SWIS in year 7&8 (the vote was: 5 in favour, 2 against and one abstention).

The final decision sits with the MoE and given the uncertainty around the SWIS zoning, the outcome of our application is also uncertain. The MoE will make a decision based on the wider school network and on which school it would like to expand as both SWIS and Ridgway are likely to have capacity issues in the future. A timeframe for this decision is not set, the MoE advises this process takes approximately 3 terms. When we have more information we will share this. 

The board’s reasons for this decision are:

  • Fluctuating numbers: Records show that there has been fluctuation in the numbers of Year 7 and 8 students staying at Ridgway in the last 10 years. This causes uncertainty for tamariki, families and teachers and complications for school management. We want to provide more stability for the school, tamariki and their whanau.

    • With uncertainty of numbers it is difficult for the school to plan ongoing programmes for children in Years 6 - 8 as organisation is driven by the number that choose to go or stay.  This means that it can be difficult to maintain continuity in programmes from year to year.

  • SWIS zone: SWIS plan to consult and set their own zone in 2022 and our decision will have an impact on their decision. 

    • If Ridgway remains as a Full Primary, SWIS may just match their zone to that of Berhampore School’s zone to allow for a pathway for Berhampore students, or they may decide to include more of the Ridgway Zone.  This leaves Ridgway School facing continued uncertainty around numbers in Year 7 and 8 into the future.

    • Even if the Boards of Ridgway and SWIS work together around their zoning, there is no guarantee around stability of numbers remaining for Year 7 & 8 at Ridgway in future years.  

    • If Ridgway becomes a Contributing Primary school the SWIS board will be expected to take all of the Ridgway zone into it’s zone.

  • Quality Education: Both schools provide excellent year 7&8 schooling there is no evidence to suggest that either a Full Primary or an intermediate is better. 

  • SWIS is a school in our local community

    • It is within walking distance for the majority of our students.

    • It is part of the same Kahui Ako as Ridgway (cluster of schools that work together). 

  • Well-being of students. Avoiding anxiety and stress for our year 6 tamariki, their whanau and teachers (which usually happens over terms 3 and 4), will mean energy and effort is focused on preparing all year 6 tamariki for their next steps.

    • We want to be able to provide clearer information on the process for tamariki transitioning so that they are prepared - currently this does not happen even though families are seeking this help. A clearer and more transparent process will help with ensuring collective well-being across Ridgway.

    • All students would benefit by transitioning from Ridgway together. 

    • Students who currently leave at the end of Year 6 are not celebrated in the same way as those who leave at the end of Year 8. This is a significant step in their lives but it is not recognised. 

    • Strategic aims for students to “Experience Belonging”:  The board’s aim for all of our students to experience belonging at Ridgway and have a strong connection to our community and environment is undermined by the disruption of a significant number of children leaving at the end of Year 6.

This decision is not a statement about whether the Board believes Full Primary or Contributing Primary school’s are better.  It is a recognition that it is difficult for the school to establish an identity as a Full Primary when uncertain numbers of Year 7 & 8s from year to year.  The Board recognises excellent teaching and achievement results have been sustained over time despite the difficulties the school has been presented with.  Furthermore the Board acknowledges and values the contribution of Year 7 & 8 students in the life of the school up until this point.  Neither do the Board believe that removing the option to stay or go will put any student at an educational disadvantage. 

Next steps:

  • Inform the MoE of our decision and make a formal application early next year

  • Work with MoE and the SWIS Board and principal

  • Ensure there is a long lead in time for the change (we will propose 2024/2025 to the MoE)

  • Work on making the transition for Year 6 from Ridgway to SWIS a smooth and positive experience for everyone.

Appendix A

Summary of community feedback 

In support of retaining yr 7&8:

  • Retain local provision, including: 

    • reducing travel time/challenges/risks

    • maintain local community connection

  • Opportunities for mentoring/leadership provided at a full primary, positive for older and younger kids.

  • Opportunity to continue bi-lingual learning

  • General preference for full primary over intermediate environment, including 

    • settling time, emotional impacts, anxiety of move to intermediate school, leading to a possible reduction in educational outcomes

    • smaller size of school compared to intermediate

  • The new build could encourage higher retention, shouldn’t we wait and see?

  • SWIS is also at capacity for their buildings until their rebuild

  • Offering choice of different environment to SWIS - some families have a child at each.

In support of becoming a contributing primary (stopping at year 6):

  • Better facilities and scope for learning at SWIS as it is larger

  • Free up resourcing to focus on rest of school, remove unpredictability of numbers

  • The fact that so many leave supports that we don’t realise the benefits of a full primary

  • If only a few stay, composite Yr 6-8 classes are not ideal

  • Split zone (with some students at Ridgway having choice and some not) should be avoided as an outcome

  • Enable whole year group to transition together

  • SWIS enables them to make new friends, grow and be prepared for the change to High School

  • Also important to SWIS to have certainty in numbers and be able to support transition

  • Move to SWIS enables kids to meet more kids and ease transition to high school

Also feedback received at information session (click this link see notes from this)

MoST Content Management V3.0.8151