June 25, 2008

No Funds for Rooms Despite Roll Rise

Victory School will not receive Education Ministry funding for extra classrooms despite expecting to have a full roll by the end of the year.

The Nelson school has capacity for 350 pupils in its ministry- funded classrooms. Its roll is 330, with principal Mark Brown expecting to have up to 360 pupils by the end of the year.

Mr Brown said he had been told by ministry officials that the school would not receive funding for additional classrooms while there was spare space at other local schools.

He said Victory had bought one prefabricated classroom, using school and community funding, and planned to bring in another two this year. The rooms would be used for school classes during the day and adult classes in the evening.

At the end of 2003, the school had 317 pupils. Mr Brown said the roll growth had been a result of parents wanting to send their children to a school where they could receive a bilingual education, and the school's positive reputation.

"Victory is seen nationally as a very successful school because of what happens in classrooms but also because of its links to the community."

In the past five to six years, the number of pupils in bilingual education had gone from nine to 100, he said. About 10 bilingual pupils came from outside the school's neighbourhood, mainly from Stoke.

Parents who wanted bilingual education for their children were able to receive transport assistance from the ministry to send them to the closest school that offered it. Victory was the closest school for parents in Stoke, Mr Brown said.

The ministry's Marlborough, Nelson and West Coast manager, John MacDuff, said that based on the school's current roll, it had four spare classrooms. This excluded the rooms owned by the board or community and the accommodation occupied by a satellite class for Maitai School pupils.

As the school had spare capacity, there was no danger of overcrowding, he said.

But Mr Brown said the ministry's count of spare rooms did not acknowledge the four ministry-funded after-school programmes the school ran.

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