School is on a roll


Kakanui School principal Anne Roughan reckons she is in charge of the “best wee rural school around”, a statement that is supported by a steadily growing roll.
In February 2014, the school in the coastal township south of Oamaru had 15 pupils. That had grown to 25 a year later, which meant the school gained an additional teacher.
This year the school, which caters for pupils up to year 8, started with 32 pupils and now has 33.
Mrs Roughan said she was “quite surprised” the school’s roll had more than doubled in just two years, and put the roll growth down to the lifestyle Kakanui offered families and the strong community spirit.
“It’s a beautiful place to be. Being coastal, it appeals to everybody. It’s a friendly community; there’s definitely a lot of community spirit here.”She said the school used its coastal environment in its learning, which was praised by the Education Review Office when it visited the school in August.
“The staff makes very good use of the local environment and community members to extend students’ learning. They also make effective use of the school’s grounds and its extensive facilities and resources to enrich students’ learning,” the report said.
Some families from Oamaru, Weston and Enfield send their children to the school and there have been some children from countries such as England and Scotland.
However, most are from families who have moved to the area from other parts of New Zealand or those who have returned to Kakanui.
Mrs Roughan said while rolls were falling at many rural schools, Kakanui School and others in North Otago, such as Papakaio School, were an exception.
“I think that what’s happened is that some rural schools are more isolated … generations have grown up and moved on. “But people are coming here; people who’ve done their OE or had children and come back. “Their children go here, like they did. We have quite a lot of that.”She expected the school’s roll to continue to grow and estimated it would top 40 by the end of the year.
However, she didn’t want the school to get too big, as she felt it would lose its “rural feel”.

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