Zones of Contention: A Comparative Analysis of the Impact of Two Regimes of Enrolment Regulations in New Zealand
A number of New Zealand studies have identified a relationship between enrolment regulations and school enrolments, in particular drawing attention to the negative impact that the abandonment of ‘home zones’ in 1991 have had on many lower decile and ethnically diverse schools. The progress of a group of secondary schools within a geographic area in New Zealand from before the introduction of Tomorrow’s Schools in 1989 up to 2009 is tracked using quantitative data from the Ministry of Education, New Zealand Qualifications Authority and Statistics New Zealand combined with qualitative data from interviews with those who were principals during the period. This mixed-methods approach shows that both enrolment numbers and academic achievement in three of the four schools fell and then rose almost simultaneously with the removal in 1991 and then reinstatement in 2000 of geographic home zones. The ethnic and socioeconomic polarisation that resulted from the earlier change, however, has not reversed. The quantitative and qualitative data together provide clear evidence that geographic home zones provide a level of stability and security in the provision of education at a local level that is not matched by the alternative regulatory regime that operated in the 1990s.