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A Safe Learning & Living Environment a Priority for Halswell

A Safe Learning & Living Environment a Priority for Halswell Residential Board

Christchurch, 12 December 2012

In August this year, the Board of Halswell Residential College, Christchurch, welcomed the Minister of Education’s preliminary decision to retain a national co-educational residential school for learners with intellectual difficulties. “A residential school and the extended intensive wrap-around service would ensure seamless and integrated support for learners,” says Dr Simon Buckland, Chair of the Halswell Board. “It meant more vulnerable children with special needs could be supported with their learning and development than the current model could provide.”

“The information that is now being portrayed in the media, and that was recently presented at the High Court, is misleading and vague, and is not a reflection of safety at Halswell Residential College,” says Dr Buckland. “A safe learning and living environment is a priority for this Board and the staff. The College has robust systems in place to monitor day and residential arrangements including sleeping areas, gives staff widespread training, and has policies developed with advice from Child, Youth and Family experts. Enrolment procedures for the College also ensure students must meet criteria that exclude those with adverse sexual behaviours.”

“Halswell Residential College has been running a satellite class for the last four years, which includes a mix of boys from Halswell College and girls from Salisbury School,” says Janine Harrington, Principal of Halswell Residential College. “We have also had girls from Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti on site with our boys at the Halswell campus since the February 2011 earthquake. During this time, there has never been an incident for the girls of the type now being expressed in the media.”

Since the final decision in October, the Board’s focus has been on moving forward with the sector and the Ministry, to ensure the proposed service model would continue to deliver results for those boys and girls who would benefit from a residential setting. “It is disappointing that this issue continues to drag on,” says Dr Buckland. “We are concerned that delays to implementing the co-ed and wrap-around model will defer the expected benefits. In addition, the negative media reports may raise unfounded doubt and uncertainty in the minds of parents, thus jeopardising opportunities that these vulnerable students deserve.”

“At Halswell Residential College, we will continue to put the safety and needs of our students first,” says Dr Buckland. “To date, the Board has been respectful of the path Salisbury has chosen to take. However, we can no longer remain silent in view of the unfounded comments bringing Halswell Residential College, its staff, current and past students and family/whānau, into disrepute. We strongly urge a respectful dialogue that regards the achievements and successful outcomes for the many past and present learners, staff and community of our school.”


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