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Christchurch could potentially be an education magnet

Christchurch could potentially be an education magnet, UC expert says

December 6, 2012

A University of Canterbury (UC) expert believes the Ministry of Education wants to close or merge 39 Christchurch schools so they can create something new following the earthquakes.

Associate Professor Lindsey Conner at UC’s College of Education said today the ministry was using the merging or closing of schools as an opportunity to generate something different for the provision of education in Christchurch.

She made the comments following the vote by Christchurch teachers yesterday to strike on February 19, the day after Education Minister Hekia Parata delivers her final decision about the closures and mergers of schools.

"The earthquakes caused shifts in demographics and consequential movements and losses of families from many schools,’’ Professor Conner said.

"While this needs to be addressed in the short term, we also need a strong vision for what education provision will look like for our city in the future. Teachers feel they haven’t been included in such visioning conversations and that more time is needed to get this right. They also want to ensure that their ideas are listened to, which is why they are so strongly coming out and taking a stand.

"I think teachers realise that changes in student numbers mean changes in staffing, but decisions about combining schools, the locations of the schools, and governance issues need to be thought through more carefully. We need to have something that meets the needs of the children and goes way beyond this to make education an exciting thing to be part of.

"Christchurch could potentially be an education magnet if we get this right,’’ Professor Conner said.

More than 1000 teachers and administration staff from throughout the greater Christchurch region attended a meeting in Addington yesterday to consider strike action in protest at the proposed overhaul of the region's schools.

ENDS

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