Enrolments, school property and facilities

Since 2013, 38 new schools have been added to the network of schools and since 2015 we’ve undertaken over 160 redevelopment and roll growth projects representing over $880 million of capital investment.

School property

The government owns or leases what’s called the school property portfolio. This refers to all the land, buildings and facilities that all state schools in New Zealand have, and have to maintain.

The school property portfolio includes property at all state schools except state integrated schools. The proprietor of a state integrated school, not the government, owns or leases the land and buildings at state integrated schools. The owners of private (or independent, as they’re also referred to) schools own their land and buildings.

Some state schools might have some buildings or facilities that aren’t owned by the government but are instead owned by their Board of Trustees. These could be their hall or swimming pool for which the school community has raised funds themselves.

Even though the proprietor of a state integrated school owns or leases their school’s land and buildings, we provide some property funding to them (and to the school’s Board of Trustees) to maintain their buildings. We also provide funding to the Boards of Trustees of state schools for them to manage their school property.

To support Boards of Trustees in making sure the physical size of their school is right for the number of students they need to accommodate, we monitor roll pressure and school capacities across the whole network at national, regional and local levels. If there’s an issue, a school might put an enrolment scheme in place, change the year levels they cater for, or have additional classrooms put onto the school site.

In areas of population decline we’d work with a Board of Trustees to consider other options, such as merging, co-locating or closing schools.

Planning for growth in the network and the management of the school property portfolio are interdependent because the capacity and space in one will always be influenced by the capacity and space of the other – with shifts in student populations affecting the shape of both.

Size of the school property portfolio

The school property portfolio currently includes:
• Over 2,100 schools
• More than 15,000 school buildings
• 35,500 teaching spaces
• 8,000 hectares of occupied land

It would cost approximately $30 billion to replace the school property of all of New Zealand’s state and state integrated schools.

The way schools use their spaces and deliver the curriculum is the responsibility of Boards of Trustees. This includes teaching styles, how classrooms are configured, decisions on furniture and equipment, and how students and teachers are safely accommodated in one space or building.

The effects of growth on a school’s capacity are generally the same for all schools. Overcrowding affects the wellbeing of everyone, because the learning environment and facilities can’t cope with the extra demand. But New Zealand schools don’t all respond to growth in the same way at the same time because each school is unique in how it delivers the curriculum. Very few schools are brand new or completely rebuilt, older buildings can be upgraded and improved with careful planning and modifications, and learning spaces designed for use in multiple ways.

The physical design of a space can impact student learning outcomes – and Boards of Trustees prioritise aligning their school’s learning spaces with its educational vision, and ensuring they have good acoustics, thermal comfort, air quality and lighting.

The look, standard, accessibility and function of school buildings, grounds and learning spaces can be a consideration when parents and caregivers are making their enrolment decisions. How well another school is doing educationally could be overlooked if it’s new.

But when a school is the preferred option for lots of families because of its visual appeal, or because it’s recently had new buildings constructed or facilities upgraded, we have to look at the risk of overcrowding at a school particularly when there are decreasing rolls at other schools nearby.

Our regional property advisors work with schools to support them to manage school property and property investments. They also help Boards of Trustees make the best property decisions with the space and resources they have available.

We provide specialist services to schools, including:
• Planning services and maintenance (condition) assessments for schools to inform their 10-year property plans
• Procurement support
• Advice on new building design
• Support for initiating property accessibility modifications as might be required by any member of the school community

We usually manage complex property projects rather than schools.

New classrooms as a response to growth

The response to growth isn’t always a property-related solution but to ensure the most effective use of existing property, when we’re determining options for areas of growth, together with Boards of Trustees we use a range of information and tools to first understand whether a school has – and is using – all the space it’s entitled to.

Our School Property Guide (SPG) provides formulas for calculating the optimal quantity of space a school might require relative to its roll but analysis of a school’s enrolment numbers, what’s happening at other schools nearby, student population projections and movement based on Statistics NZ data, and whether a school’s projected roll growth is sustainable, will generally inform our decisions on a school’s space entitlement.

Depending on the difference between required teaching spaces and actual teaching spaces, and whether the school has an enrolment scheme, funding might be provided for new teaching spaces as a response to roll growth. We’ll then work with the Board to put the new teaching spaces in place.

Learning environments are changing

A learning environment is made up of social and physical elements, as well as the teaching and learning practices that take place within it. Factors such as advances in technology and a greater understanding of how people learn have meant that schools are rethinking their approach to teaching and learning.

Changes to learning environments are also driven by today’s curriculum, which emphasises things like collaboration, communication and self-management.

We require new builds and redevelopments to have good acoustics, thermal comfort, indoor air quality and good lighting. Spaces need to be easily configured and able to be used in a number of different ways. Schools and teaching spaces that are designed with adaptability in mind means they can evolve as education needs and teaching and learning approaches change over time.

Determining a school’s learning environment

There’s no ‘right’ type of learning environment. Boards of Trustees decide how teaching and learning takes place in their buildings, and how they are fitted out. As part of their property management decisions, Boards are required to monitor what’s happening in the network and work with us to ensure the physical size and condition of their school is right for the number of students it needs to accommodate.

How the use of available space will support the delivery of the curriculum is factored into property project decisions to ensure spatial plans and practice align. Sensitivity to individual differences must be a driver for decisions relating to teaching, practice, and design of flexible spaces, and the need to plan in partnership with students, teachers, parents and experts. Spaces need to support the full participation and engagement of all students.

School property funding

Because the government owns most school land and buildings, we fund the capital, or land and buildings, of all state school property. Boards of Trustees of state schools are responsible for its day-to-day management and maintenance.

We notify Boards of Trustees of state schools of their property management responsibilities through a Property Occupancy Document (POD). It’s like a lease agreement – with us as landlord and the Board of Trustees as the tenant.

Some Boards of Trustees own their own land and buildings or lease from a proprietor and are solely responsible for managing and maintaining them. But because the land and buildings of state integrated schools helps ease pressure on the network of schools, we also provide some property funding to state integrated schools.

State schools

State schools and state integrated schools receive different types of school property funding. State schools receive capital funding to use over a five year period (called 5 Year Agreement funding or 5YA for short) specifically for managing their school property.

As well as a 5YA, all Boards of Trustees of state schools are required to have a 10 year property plan (called a 10YPP). This sets out planning and maintenance priorities for school property over a 10 year period. It could include work to ensure buildings and facilities meet health and safety requirements, essential infrastructure and maintenance work, planning for any potential change in roll numbers or for changes to learning spaces.

Once we’ve approved the 10YPP, the Board of Trustees works with us to undertake the projects it covers.

State integrated schools

We provide funding to state integrated schools to maintain their school sites, buildings and services (called Policy One funding, which is like 5YA funding for state schools), or build new property to expand the state integrated network of schools (called Policy Two funding). They can also receive funding to furnish and equip their buildings, and proprietors of state integrated schools are able to use the attendance dues they receive to pay for capital work at their school.

Some Boards of Trustees might generate property funding through fundraising in addition to the funding they receive from us. If we approve, it can be used for school property projects too, but generally any addition to a state integrated school is funded by the proprietor because all funds in the account of a state integrated Board of Trustees are Crown funds and cannot be used to enhance the capital of a proprietor.

School property roles and responsibilities

Ministry

We MONITOR

We monitor changes in a community that could influence demand on schools and their properties and facilities. We calculate how much space a school needs based on analysis of their enrolment numbers, how they’re using existing space and infrastructure, what’s happening at other schools nearby, population projections based on Statistics NZ data, and whether a school’s projected roll growth is sustainable.

We SUPPORT

We support schools in their day-to-day management of their school property and facilities, 5YA and 10YPP property planning, and compliance with the requirements of Property Occupancy Documents (PODs). We help with school property procurement, special needs property modifications, the disposal of school property according to the Crown’s disposal process, health and safety engineering, as well as assurance and risk.

We HELP IMPLEMENT

We manage complex capital works projects for schools such as weathertightness, roll growth, and major redevelopments, and work closely with them on their use of funding.

Schools

Boards of Trustees

Boards of Trustees are responsible for school governance, including strategic and property planning, community engagement and management of community and student stakeholder interests. Specific trustees may be nominated to focus on school property matters. The Board of Trustees is ultimately responsible for preparing the School Property Plan.

Proprietors of state integrated schools

Proprietors of state integrated schools own or lease the school’s land and property. Together with Boards of Trustees they develop a 10 year property plan which includes the use of funds provided by the state for minor maintenance and painting. The proprietor is responsible for maintaining the property to state standards and upholding the special character of the school.

Principal

The principal is a member of the Board of Trustees and is responsible for the day-to-day running of the school, including maintenance of school property.

Property planners and project managers

External property planners are engaged to prepare school property condition assessments or School Property Plans. They have to be pre-approved by us, and they are crucial to the integrity of asset condition information and project prioritisation planning in our property condition database. Schools often depend on property planners for guidance on property matters and liaise with our Ministry advisors, who support schools in the day-to-day management of their school property and facilities. Schools might also employ project managers to oversee school-led property projects.

When there are issues

Roll growth

We secure funding through the government’s Budget process each year to expand schools in areas of growth. This funding must be prioritised nationally to assist schools facing the greatest accommodation pressures.

Roll growth does not always lead to a new classroom. We first need to consider projected growth, capacity of the local network, and whether an enrolment scheme can be amended to help the school manage its numbers. When a property solution is appropriate, we first look to help schools make better use of their existing infrastructure. We also may need to use interim measures, such as adapting a hall or library into a teaching space until a long-term, sustainable property solution can be delivered.

We want to ensure that students are able to attend their local school and fund property based on the numbers of in-zone students schools have. Taking students from beyond the catchment can create capacity pressure for schools and surplus capacity in neighbouring schools.

Property maintenance

Property maintenance work that Boards of Trustees undertake includes painting and minor repairs to buildings, fixing broken equipment, general maintenance of a swimming pool or school playground, or making accessibility improvements. Proprietors of state integrated schools set a limit at which point they take responsibility for the cost.

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