Monday, February 18, 2013

The Christchurch schools reshuffle

Hekia Parata has just fronted assembled media in Christchurch to announce revised decisions for the realignment of schools in greater Christchurch.

Her full media statement can be accessed here. What follows is a brief synopsis:



Education Minister Hekia Parata today announced she has listened to parents and school communities and decided about a third of the proposals for greater Christchurch schools should now not proceed.

Ms Parata today announced interim decisions for 31 of the 38 schools affected by the Government’s Education Renewal Plans.

“The Government is absolutely committed to rebuilding Christchurch – that’s why we are investing $1 billion into restoring and renewing the education sector in Canterbury over the next 10 years,” Ms Parata says.

“Greater Christchurch will have one of the most modern schooling networks in the country that will serve communities for many years to come, and help each and every child get a great education.”

In summary, the interim decisions Ms Parata has announced today for the 31 schools are:

  • 12 schools proposed for closure or merger should remain open.
  • 19 schools should either close, or merge. 
    • Of these 19 schools, seven should close and 12 should merge (to create six schools)

In addition to those interim decisions:

·         Two schools have already closed voluntarily. Those schools are Hammersley Park and Le Bons Bay.
·         Five schools in Aranui (Aranui, Avondale, Wainoni, Chisnallwood Intermediate, and Aranui High School) have an extended consultation period to 7 March. It is proposed those schools form a new Year 1-13 campus.
 

The 12 schools proposed for closure or merger that should now remain open are: Bromley, Burnham, Burnside, Duvauchelle, Gilberthorpe, Linwood Avenue, Okains Bay, Ouruhia Model, Shirley Intermediate, and Yaldhurst schools, and the two kura - TKKM o Waitaha and TKKM o Te Whānau Tahi.

“I have decided that Ouruhia Model School should remain open but should be relocated to West Belfast when the population is sufficient enough to support a school in that area.

“I have also decided that one of the kura should be relocated so that Māori medium schooling is available in the north of Christchurch.’’

In addition to Hammersley Park and Le Bons Bay schools, who have already closed voluntarily, the interim decision is to close seven schools.

These schools are: Branston Intermediate, Glenmoor, Greenpark, Kendal, Linwood Intermediate, Manning Intermediate and Richmond.

Glenmoor, Greenpark, and Richmond all had rolls of fewer than 50 children as of July last year.

Kendal had a roll of 90 children, Branston Intermediate a roll of 180 children, Manning a roll of 154 and Linwood a roll of 123.

The interim decisions for these seven schools affect around 670 children, or less than 1 per cent of the entire greater Christchurch student population of nearly 72,000

I acknowledge that the interim decision to close seven schools will be disappointing news for those communities but parents will be supported in making decisions about their child’s future education and there are plenty of options available to them, depending on the final decisions,” Ms Parata says.
  
The shake-up of schools in the Christchurch area was bound to cause controversy, whatever decisions the Government made. We read at the weekend that there are something in the region of 9000 spaces at schools in greater Christchurch.

Hekia Parata has pulled back significantly on proposals announced late last year, and twelve schools have been spared the axe. That will doubtless come as a relief to staff, students and the school communities.

We have a number of family members involved in the education sector in Christchurch, including one who is a senior staff member at one of the schools recommended for merger. They have told us that their colleagues are generally treating the proposal as a new challenge and an opportunity.

Ms Parata has also confirmed that the Government will be investing more that $1b over the next ten years building or rebuilding 15 schools that is welcome news. It is noticeable too that significant investment will be made in areas such as Pegasus (north of Christchurch) and Lincoln and Rolleston (west of Christchurch) where there is a huge amount of new residential construction going on at the moment. Friends recently moved to Pegasus after their house in the east of Christchurch was deemed beyond repair, and they have told us that houses are growing like mushrooms out there.

Unsurprisingly, Labour's Education spokesman-in-waiting Chris Hipkins has called today's announcement a back-down by  Hekia Parata. Can we take that as confirmation from Hipkins that Labour actually supported the more draconian cuts, or is Mr Hipkins simply indulging in a bit of political grand-standing?

Lastly, the Government and Ms Parata in particular have made a much better fist of communicating these decision today. It would seem that Hekia Parata is keen to seek some redemption after an annus horribilis in the Education portfolio last year. 

4 comments:

Thomas A. said...

Parata is useless. She's been whipped into submission though, and that's something at least. There's still plenty of scope for her to stuff up again, and she will.

bsprout said...

The dust is still settling in Christchurch and the recovery is just beginning. Even though Parata has pulled back from the original plan she is still putting many communities under pressure when it isn't necessary. When the Christchurch schools were pivotal in holding communities together and providing stability for many children, there will be more disruption. After dealing with earthquakes, a shocking schooling review process and the stress of Novapay there will be 19 school communities who have more challenges thrown into the mix.

A handful of schools have welcomed the decisions as they made logical sense, but the majority will be gutted.

Nookin said...

bsprout

I think I read that between them Phillipstown and Woolston need about $3.5m spent on the buildings. What does Hekia do? Leave them until the teachers think the time is right? Spend the money only to find that the demographics are wrong? Or does she take the lead and do something positive? Yes it's sad that institutions with history have gone or are going, but there was an earthquake ffs. There is no cathedral. Lots of things are missing.

ChCh is getting new, modern schools. How exciting is that? The communities can get in there and have input. Some communities would give an arm and a leg for that opportunity. Some teachers, who probably won't be teaching in 5 years, just bitch

Edward the Confessor said...

"They have told us that their colleagues are generally treating the proposal as a new challenge and an opportunity."

I have a number of friends who have lost their jobs due to the crisis in manufacturing. They thank the government as they treat their unemployment as a new challenge and opportunity!