New teachers chalked up

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Going up: Wakatipu High's new site at Remarkables Park

Queenstown’s had an influx of out-of-town teachers for the new school year.

Most schools are also reporting a hike in rolls – with the exception of St Joseph’s and Queenstown Primary Schools.

More bums on seats spells out the reason for the influx of educators.

Wakatipu High School, which has jumped from 850 to 910 pupils, has recruited 11 new teachers – the majority from outside the resort.

Meanwhile, Shotover Primary, where the head count has jumped from 319 pupils to 363, is bringing four new ‘learning mentors’ on board, for a total of 22.

Only one teacher is local, the other three coming from the wider district and the North Island.

Arrowtown Primary is also upping the teaching ante.

It is starting off with 544 youngsters but expects that to rise to 600 by the end of the school year.

It welcomes one new teacher – returning to the area after a two-year stint away.

Wakatipu High principal Steve Hall says it’s a reflection of a teaching issue nationally.

Despite the pitch for the school being positive, with its move to a brand-new Frankton site next year, he says recruiting’s a challenge.

“Because it is so significant we try and start very early and we were recruiting staff in July last year. That helped us do this really well.

“Things like housing prices and availability are part of that whole equation.”

He says a lot of people still want to move to Queenstown.

“Wakatipu High School is a great place to work, but housing is a common factor in the discussions and people’s considerations [as well as] the cost of living here.”

He is already thinking about next year when he expects about 1000 students on the roll – and will have to complete another wave of teacher recruitment.

Shotover Primary’s head Ben Witheford says the school works hard on recruiting – and flags it might have to work harder.

“A lot of people would like to live and work in the Queenstown area but both the housing cost and general cost of day-to-day and week-to-week living does really reduce our application pool.

“If we don’t see some softening in the housing market it might get harder.”

Despite the difficulties he stresses the school is stoked with the calibre of staffers joining the team.

Queenstown Primary had a drop in numbers this year, but head teacher Fiona Cavanagh isn’t concerned.

She says it’s obvious more kids will opt for the Remarkables and Shotover schools because of new subdivisions there.

“We’ve got a stable staff – which is really delicious.”

St Joseph’s Primary head honcho Trisch Inder says it has a number of spaces, a few of which would be allocated to non-Catholic families.

Remarkables Primary, which now houses its library in temporary classroom, also notes an increase in numbers.

Principal Debbie Dickson says it’s part of its “normal makeup” as it has grown from 54 to 556 kiddies in eight years.

louises@scene.co.nz