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Centre Finally Accepted As A State School

MEDIACOM-RELEASE-

Homai Vision Education Centre Finally Accepted As A State School

29 July 2000 marks the official opening ceremony of Homai Vision Education Centre as a State Special Residential School.

From 1 July 2000 the facility, ceased to be part of the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind and instead became self-managing, governed by an elected School Board of Trustees - like other schools in New Zealand.

"This changeover is a milestone - not only for Homai - but also for education in New Zealand," says Foundation Chief Executive, Jane Holden.

"It is significant because it is the first time education for blind and sight-impaired children will be delivered formally as part of the state system."

The Foundation for the Blind has provided education services for blind and sight-impaired students for over one hundred years and the school opened at its present Manurewa location 36 years ago in 1964.

When the new school opened at Homai, it represented a radical change in approach to the children and their education compared to the previous Parnell facilities and was purpose-built to be user friendly.

Today Homai manages the education of around 500 blind and sight- impaired students throughout New Zealand, ranging in age from preschoolers to 21 years.

"We offer four distinct services," says Ian Grieve, Homai principal. "We have a range of placement options within the school sector including the core school and satellite classes, an early childhood centre, an itinerant teacher network, residential services and national assessment services.

"As a result of our new status, our services and programmes will now be regularly reviewed by the Education Review Office and measured against national criteria.

"This will allow the education our students receive to be accurately evaluated against the education of their sighted peers - which can only help raise the standards and reputation of the school."

Representatives on the newly elected Board of Trustees are, Ian Grieve (Principal) Cloan Makgill (Parent and Chair of the current Board of Trustees) Sheila Hughes (Parent representative) Jane Thistlewaite (Parent representative) Vaughan Dodd (Parent representative) Denise Claxton (Homai staff member) Kelly Brown (student representative) Peter O'Brien (RNZFB) Kevin Mulgrew (RNZFB) Lottie Trevarthen (co-opted member, Tangata Whenua) Sue Money (co- opted member, Parent representing itinerant services)

"The first job for the new Board will be to review the current strategic plan in light of the School Board of Trustees own strategic direction and goals," says Ian Grieve.

Homai looks forward to a continuing and fruitful relationship with the Foundation for the Blind, working with Foundation staff to ensure the students receive the services they need to achieve independence.

Homai will also be working closely alongside its parent community, Parents of Vision Impaired (NZ) Inc, the Vision Education Agency, the local community, other schools and related education agencies.

Media are invited to attend the celebrations being held on site at Homai (Gate One, Browns Rd, Manurewa, Auckland) on Saturday 29 July at 4pm. The celebrations will begin with a Powhiri and open day with the official presentation starting at 6pm. The Associate Minister of Education the Hon. Lianne Dalziel is attending the function, along with members of the Foundation's Board, the School Board of Trustees, staff and former staff, past pupils and other supporters.

Please RSVP to Catherine Hennessy, Communications Co-ordinator, Ph: (09) 355-6884 or 021-687-426 or email: chennessyrnzfb.org.nz by 12pm Friday 28 July.

ENDS

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