Provisional data shows school rolls are set to increase in Rotorua (specially single-sex ones).

Most schools in Rotorua, and single-sex ones specially, are preparing for expanding rolls this year.

Provisional data from the Ministry of Education shows of the 47 schools in the area, 36 are set for an increase compared with last year. The provisional figures are estimates and may change, while the 2022 numbers are based on school roll returns from July 1.

Rotorua Boys’ High School (a single-sex center) is estimated to be Rotorua’s biggest school in 2023, with 1160 students. This was an increase of 68 on July. The school’s principal Chris Grinter told the Rotorua Daily Post he was expecting a roll of more than 1200 students in 2023. This was due to a “big” Year 9 cohort starting, he said. He believed the figure reflected a “strong support for single-sex education”, saying this was a trend that had been maintained in recent years.

Chris Grinter, principal of a Single-sex School
Rotura Boy’s High School principal Chris Grinter, a single-sex school

Grinter said staff had to get “creative” over the holidays to ensure there was enough teaching space for all the students. He said the school’s new science block, which would add 10 new teaching spaces, would be complete by Term 1 next year at the latest.

Until then, Grinter said staff had “divided a couple of large breakout spaces to form two teaching spaces, rather the just the one”. The single-sex school’s roll would continue to grow in the coming years as the city’s population increased and new housing was built in the area, he said. He expected there would be discussions with the Ministry of Education this year about capping the school’s roll.

“There is not a desire by the school to keep growing, as we know the learning support needed to ensure our boys keep achieving at the current high levels and we certainly don’t want to see any drop-off.”

John Paul College principal Justin Harper said the year would start with a “full roll” of about 1100 students between Year 7 and Year 13. This included 54 students enrolled in a secondary tertiary programme, known as Trades Academy. The school’s forecast roll for 2023 was 1096. That was a 44-student decrease compared with July.

Harper said the school had a roll cap of 1100 – not including international students – and there was a waiting list of people keen to enrol. He anticipated the roll size would remain the same in the coming years. Provisional figures for Westbrook School estimated a roll of 554 – up by 39 students on July.

Meanwhile, Westbrook School principal Colin Watkins anticipated the year would begin with just under 500 students. However, he said the school would take on about 100 new entrants throughout 2023. Watkins, who had been principal at the school since 2007, said the school was in a “privileged position” to have an enrolment scheme to limit overcrowding at the school. It never had a roll of more than 600 students in one year, he said. “That means we have roughly 100 kids in each year level, which maintains our staffing and it maintains our budget.”

To forecast the number of new enrolments, Watkins said he “canvassed the area really carefully using a variety of techniques”. “We have a pretty good knowledge of the children turning 5 in our area that can come to our school in any one given year.” This helped the school know how many out-of-zone children could enrol, with Watkins saying there was “quite a demand” from some families in Rotorua.

“It’s fair to say we have a reasonable reputation, so there is a demand from folks from outside our zone to bring their children to our school – but we have to give priority to kids within our zone.” Ministry of Education operations and integration acting leader Helen Hurst said when setting schools’ provisional rolls, it looked at their historic rolls to identify any “significant trends in roll growth or decline”.

Network activity, local intel, roll forecasts and teacher supply were also taken into account when setting schools’ provisional rolls. This ensured the ministry had “a complete picture of how the provisional rolls will impact schools and the reasons for any changes”.

Provisional School rolls for 2023. Source: Ministry of Education, Education Counts.

As data shows, single-sex schools are the ones who experience more growth. The first of them is single-sex school “Rotura’s Boy’s High School”, the second one is an all-guirls single-sex school: “Rotorua Girl’s High School”.

The source of this new an article by Emma Houpt published in the “Rotorua Daily Post” (

More information regarding single-sex education can be found at: