Update - Future of Year 7 and 8

Tēnā koutou

Many thanks to everyone who has responded to the survey. Here we will answer some of the questions raised so far. 

The Board is aware that the decision to continue or not with our Year 7&8 provision is not straight forward. There are emotive and external factors that are out of our control. The Board is doing its best to navigate this situation and make the best evidence based decision for our future Year 7&8s. We would like to reiterate that a decision has NOT been made and that your input to the consultation process remains key to the decision.

Question: Why are you considering this proposal now?

The Board has been aware for some time of the impact of the fluctuating numbers of Year 7&8 on the school, and has a responsibility to consider the needs of the whole school and deliver the best outcomes for all of our tamariki. The decision is being considered now in light of the most recent developments at the school including approval of our enrollment zone, completion of the new school building and the growing French bilingual unit.

Question: What is the capacity of SWIS to accommodate our Year 7&8s?

SWIS is going through an enrollment zoning process and we have been in contact with them over this matter. The original zoning proposal included the whole Ridgway zone within the SWIS zone. However, SWIS is also at capacity and last week, after we had already started this consultation, we were made aware that if we continue to offer intermediate schooling the future zone for SWIS may only encompass part of the Ridgway zone. If Ridgway becomes a contributing primary, it is expected that the SWIS zone will encompass the Ridgway zone. 

The outcome of this process is still uncertain and may not be finalised for some time. The decision will be made by the Ministry of Education. Ridgway School has no power to influence this over and above feeding into the SWIS zoning consultation when it happens next year. 

It is important to remember that choice of intermediate school is not normal for most students in New Zealand. As more schools become zoned to help manage their roll, it is to be expected that choice will become limited. Of course, applications from out of zone are always possible, and this applies to SWIS and Ridgway.

Given this new development, the Board would value additional views of our community on their preference if we need to make a choice between Ridgway OR SWIS for Year 7&8.

Question: What other intermediate schooling options are there in the area?

If out of zone applications are being accepted at neighbouring schools such as Brooklyn or SWIS year 7&8 could apply to go there even if they are not in the zone. There may be enrollment policies as to priority places.

Question: How many stay and how many go at the end of Year 6?

Below is a table showing this breakdown for the last 10 years. You can see there is a large variation year on year. In 2020 nearly 80% of year 6 students left Ridgway, this year we anticipate 70% of year 6 will stay, although we won’t know for sure until Tem 1 starts. It is important to understand that the fluctuation in numbers has an impact on the management and staffing of the school. Also, although many parents expect that their children will stay at Ridgway through year 8, as you can see the reality is often different. We understand that for parents of children currently below year 6 the option of remaining at Ridgway for Year 7&8 feels important, but as described above this choice is not “normal” in NZ, and it has an impact on the rest of the school. If most students were staying at Ridgway for Year 7&8 it is unlikely the Board would be considering stopping provision, but we have to take into account the realities of what happens, not just the desire to retain choice.

Year

Year 6 Leavers

Year 6 Stayed

2011

15

9

2012

8

12

2013

17

12

2014

6

31

2015

22

13

2016

16

11

2017

32

7

2018

14

10

2019

13

15

2020

27

7

2021

(current projection)

8

20

Question: Is there evidence of a difference in educational outcomes at intermediate schools vs full primary schools?

We are unable to point to any specific evidence of this, and our understanding is that there is no research to support an academic advantage to intermediate schools or full primary schools.

Some parents are concerned about the impact on their child of the disruption and change of moving to an intermediate school, while others see benefit in the change, the new opportunities offered. It can be very child-dependent, and some families have one child at intermediate and one at full primary.

The Board is not making a decision based on a belief that one type of schooling is better than the other. The Board is making a decision about what is best for Ridgway School.

One difference to remember about Ridgway compared to other contributing primary schools is that the choice currently available to Ridgway families means that some stay and some go. This creates a split in the Yr6 cohort and there can be anxiety around making the “right” choice when tamariki are faced with potentially competing views of parents, whanau, friends and teachers. At contributing primary schools, the whole cohort moves together, no questions.

Question: Is there a difference in funding which is influencing this decision?

In short, no.  The school does not face any greater or lesser financial challenges as a contributing or a full primary. 

Question: What are the roll projections for Ridgway?

Unfortunately, this is not as straightforward as you might think. School roll is influenced by many things, and we do not actually know in any given year with any certainty what our roll will be. The Ministry does not provide roll projections.

We can tell you the current roll at Ridgway:

Year

Roll

0

13

1

40

2

38

3

29

4

30

5

34

6

30

7

10

8

15

Total

239


Question: What is the new school capacity and is it not large enough?

The new school was designed to accommodate 227 students. This number was determined by the Ministry several years ago based on our roll. We are already above that capacity even with our enrollment zone now in place. Finishing at year 6 means our new building will be better able to accommodate our current capacity. As we explained, we are not able to accurately predict our roll, but at this time it would appear that successfully retaining all of our year 7&8s over the next 6 years would put us above the capacity of our new building. There is unlikely to be any funding or support from the Ministry to expand our building for a number of years. We are not alone in this situation as SWIS is also at capacity and, as we have already done, seeking to manage their capacity through an enrollment zone.

Question: Could Ridgway do more to retain Year 7&8s?

The Board acknowledges that tamariki leave Ridgway at the end of year 6 for a variety of reasons. If we decide to retain our full primary status the Board is likely to make recommendations to the school management team to develop strategies for higher retention of our year 7&8s. As stated earlier, it is also possible that the outcome of the SWIS zoning process will result in Ridgway tamariki not automatically having the option to attend SWIS.

We would seek to better understand the reasons for students leaving, and address the apparent change in view from parents who wish Ridgway to offer year 7&8 provision, but then withdraw their children at year 6.

Question: What is the decision making process for the Board?

The Board intends to review the responses from our community over the next few weeks and consider how the proposal aligns with our school’s strategic aims.

The Board will make a decision as to whether to apply to the Ministry to become a contributing primary school. The Minister of Education makes the final decision. This process is expected to take around 3 terms.

The Board will make recommendations as to what the school can do to support either outcome. 

Board decisions are made by majority vote. The Ridgway Board usually reaches decisions with a full consensus. This is preferred as it means that decisions are made based on evidence and reasoning that is clear to all board members and we arrive at the same conclusion.

The likely options for the Board to vote on are:

  1. Proceed with application to Ministry for Ridgway to become a contributing primary

  2. Not proceed with application, and recommend a time period before this is considered again.

  3. Defer the decision if further information is deemed necessary to make an informed decision.

Question: What is the case for and against this change?

We have updated the case of change linked to our strategic plan following the feedback received so far from our community.

Case for change

1. Learning and Achievement -> Our staff and students achieve success

  • The school works better when we can plan how to use our resources, and develop our capabilities through training and practice. By finishing at yr 6, we can better predict our numbers, and so focus our resources and our teacher skill-development on yr 1-6 learning.

  • We would prefer students to learn within smaller age ranges. One impact of year 7&8 is that we often run a year 6-8 whanau group - because of low/ fluctuating numbers of year 7&8s.

2. Hauora Wellbeing -> Our staff and students lead happy and healthy lives

  • We can give certainty and support to parents and children of the education pathway for their children.

  • We would like to reduce the current stress for children in year 6 to make the “right” decision, and face splits in their friendship group at an age where positive friendships support their development and learning.

  • We would like to celebrate our children’s graduation, but this is not easy when some stay behind, some go and some aren’t sure what they will do.

3. Environment and Community -> Our staff and students have strong connections

  • We are unable to promote SWIS or engage in their successful transition programme, meaning students who go to SWIS are less connected and can have a more difficult transition.

  • Enable whole year group to transition together

  • With a growing roll, finishing at yr 6 means our new building will be better able to accomodate our current capacity. There is unlikely to be any funding to expand our building for a number of years.

  • The school is now at capacity. In 2021 we introduced an enrolment zone. Previously we had out-of-zone pupils joining in year 7 or 8, but this would now be unlikely - making those years even smaller.

4. Language and Culture -> Our staff and students experience belonging

  • All children transitioning together promotes a feeling of belonging for the wider community: moving from Ridgway to SWIS and then on to High School.

  • Ridgway can continue to support its link to the francophone community, as out of zone places can be available to Ruru students. We would like to continue to see a flourishing Ruru class.

Case for retaining years 7&8

1. Learning and Achievement -> Our staff and students achieve success

  • Continuity of schooling without disruption

  • Year 7-8s have leadership opportunities

2. Hauora Wellbeing -> Our staff and students lead happy and healthy lives

  • Reducing travel time, longer journey to SWIS, more driving for parents

  • Year 7&8 offer support and are role models for younger children

  • Continuity of primary schooling over years 1-8 without needing to change school

3. Environment and Community -> Our staff and students have strong connections

  • Local school community and more involvement by parents in school community

  • Retains choice of schooling for children entering Year 7-8.

4. Language and Culture -> Our staff and students experience belonging

  • Although Ruru does not offer enrollment in Y7&8, there are some opportunities to continue bilingual learning in French.

MoST Content Management V3.0.8151