Ashburton College will start the new school year with a roll of 1270 students and 10 new teachers.
Principal Ross Preece said two of the new teachers were returning from overseas because of covid and four were beginning teachers.
They are teaching subjects including physical education, science, English and maths.
“One is coming from Melbourne and has been in lockdown. One is coming from England and has been in lockdown. They are New Zealand-trained teachers coming home.”
He said three of the four beginning teachers had been on teacher placements at the college last year. “We were impressed by them and they obviously by us.”
He said teacher appointments made in the past week meant the school was starting 2021 fully-staffed.
Among the new students will be 285 Year 9s, in their first year at college. This is up from the 270 expected.
Mr Preece said family circumstances had changed for some and other families had moved to Mid Canterbury for employment.
He is hoping 2021 will have no covid disruption to classes but the school is prepared to take learning online quickly if students have to stay at home.
While most students had their own electronic devices, the school would distribute 100 Ministry of Education devices to families who had none. Teachers also had online versions of their lessons ready to roll.
Mr Preece said the school and community had learned a lot about online learning during last year’s covid lockdown and they were better prepared this year.
“If we get 40 covid uninterrupted weeks, I will be delighted though.”
He said students sitting NCEA last year achieved “solid rather than spectacular” marks, despite the challenges of 2020.
He said endorsement levels, where students were recognised with merit or excellence above the pass level, were down from 35 per cent to 25 per cent but that would be covid-related.
The college was generally achieving slightly better than schools in a similar decile, he said.
The college is continuing to work on its $60 million rebuild plans, with concept plans being reviewed by the ministry.
“We are hoping that by the end of this term, our master plan will be finalised and we have something to share with the community.”
The new campus could include solar power and other environmentally sustainable features, as well as a large covered area that could also be used for community events.