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Resignation early Christmas present for teachers

Wednesday 19 Dec 2012 5:11 p.m.

Christchurch teachers fighting to save their schools are calling the Education Secretary's resignation an early Christmas present, but they say the best gift will be when the Education Minister resigns as well.

Lesley Longstone's resignation has given parents at Ouruhia School new hope in the battle to save their school.

“Hopefully they will put someone else in the place that knows what the heck they are doing and keep our school open,” says parent Brenda Kara.

“I'm thrilled by the news and I think it shows there are quite a few errors in the ministry,” says another parent, Angela McDonald.

Ouruhia School is one of 30 in Christchurch earmarked for closure or merger in the Government’s proposed overhaul of the region’s schools.

“The Education Ministry this year has been from one shamble to the next, and in this case one person put their hand up and they've taken responsibility for it,” says the school's principal Mark Ashmore-Smith.

And it's not just Christchurch. Teachers all over the country were affected by the Novopay debacle, and they say Ms Longstone's resignation couldn't come soon enough.

“If you perform that poorly in a position of such responsibility, I think your number’s up pretty fairly early on, especially for such a major cockup that took place,” says Auckland teacher Laurie Powell.

Three-thousand protesters rallied in Christchurch against the ministry in September, and the organiser says now it's the Education Minister's turn to step down.

“Santa's come early, but has given us half a present," says Wayne Hawker. “I think really Lesley could be seen as a scapegoat and the reality is the real person who should resign is Hekia Parata.”

Christchurch teachers will go on strike early next year.

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