Principal questions school closure plans
Fri, 14 Sep 2012 12:08p.m.
By Susie Nordqvist
The Government is being urged to rethink a plan to close several Christchurch schools after it emerged the decision may have been based on inaccurate data.
Yesterday the Ministry Of Education announced plans to close or merge more than 30 schools affected by the Christchurch earthquake, but schools say they will fight back.
The New Zealand Principals' Federation is defiant - if the Government wants to close 13 schools and merge another 18, it has a fight on its hands.
"Christchurch communities have been through such a lot that they're not going to stand by and let a school disappear without a good discussion about it," says Phil Harding.
The Government says it came up with the proposal to address earthquake damage and falling rolls in Christchurch.
"We have 214 schools across the network," says Education Minister Hekia Parata. "One hundred and seventy-three are not affected by closure or merger, but we have 4500 less students in the network and we have had to look at what the options were across it."
But principals aren't convinced – and now some are questioning whether the Government got its facts right in the first place.
"I know that the data around my school is not correct," says Mr Harding. "If my school were closing I'd be livid to think that the closure could be based on data that was inaccurate, on roll numbers that were wrong, on cost of repair that were over the top and far more than we felt were necessary."
One Christchurch principal whose school is earmarked for closure says the school suffered no serious damage in the earthquakes and its roll is stable.
"We've got five classrooms at our school, excellent staff doing wonderful things and just can't for the life of me see why they would want to close Ouruhia," says Mark Ashmore-Smith, Ouruhia School principal.
"It's like a death, it's like going to a funeral," says Mr Harding. "It's grief and it's anger and it's shock. It's not rational analysis."
This plan is not yet a done deal. The ministry says there will be a consultation process, and the Principals' Federation says it hopes that will lead to meaningful discussion before the plan becomes reality.
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16/09/2012 8:18:04 a.m.
We are in the same position as Ouruhia. We have no earthquake damage at Yaldhurst Model School and a rapidly increasing role. We have a wonderful community, a fantastic teaching staff and a superb principal. We are simply devastated to be told we are 'merging' - which is just another name for closure.
15/09/2012 4:15:00 p.m.
Just Me wrote:
This is just another approach by this National government to re-implement the Teacher/Pupil ratio policy it set out to do a while back.Just back then when it supposedly backed-down on the teacher/pupil ratoio it received more attention than it does now.Alot of water has flowed under the bridge since then e.g the state assets sales and water rights.
So as this is now happening in the Canterbury region there is nothing to stop this government from throwing it about throughout the rest of the country.
This government will now be saying that earthquakes in the Canterbury region have influenced things when it is in fact their still determined teacher/pupil ratio.
Proir to the last election National advertised increased spending on education.I would say more money will be spent on private schools(how many are there in the Canterbury region that will be closed down?)than on public schools whilst it deems itself as being meritable to remain in office.
14/09/2012 5:57:01 p.m.
It will be much more efficient to use resources more efficiently and combine schools. Instead of having dozens of smaller schools it makes sense to combine schools, and you wont have such big overheads and put the money into teaching and resources instead of running costs of multiple schools.
14/09/2012 5:49:44 p.m.
Is the inaccurate data where schools are deliberately witholding information from the ministry as a political move?We have the principals association saying we have over 2300+ schools doing this as a political move to stuff the ministry of education. If this is the case we need to sack all those 2300+ for doing a piss poor job and deliberately stuffing up our education system. Schools are there to do a job, not set policy.
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