Falling roll forces Living Way to close

Living Way Christian School, based in Wellsford, will close its doors for the final time at the end of this year.

Principal Peter Thomas says the board has decided to close the school in response to a falling roll and difficulty in recruiting teachers.

The school opened 26 years ago and, at its peak, had a roll of 45.

However, enrolments declined steeply following an economic downturn about 15 years ago and never fully recovered.
Last year, the school had 20 students, but this year has only 14. The school took students of all ages from Year 1 through to Year 13.

Mr Thomas says school fees at Living Way are cheap by private school standards, but are still a struggle for families on medium to low incomes.

He adds that Christian families currently don’t have the same enthusiasm for Christian schooling that they had about 20 years ago and many others were choosing to home school their children instead.

Still others tended to pull secondary students out of Living Way to attend state schools so that they could complete NZCEA qualifications.

“As far as I know, we had a good reputation in the community so I don’t think we were doing anything particularly wrong. But as a small school there are things we can’t offer,” Mr Thomas says.

Mr Thomas says he still feels there is an important role for Christian schools, saying the neglect of Christian values has had dire consequences for society.

“There are a lot of issues in our world today that I think you can attribute to people reinventing the moral fabric of our society and abandoning the more traditional values that Christianity brought into our culture,” he says.

The school is located in a commercial building in Station Road owned by a Christian charitable trust. Mr Thomas says it will be up to the trust as to what happens to the building next year.