18 February 2013
Rushed changes leave Christchurch school communities shocked
NZEI Te Riu Roa says the Government’s plans to merge and close schools in Christchurch are deeply flawed and have left many school communities stunned and angry.
National President Judith Nowotarski says the Government is rushing the closure and merger of schools and there are serious questions about the Ministry of Education’s capacity to make the changes within the proposed timeframe.
For instance, Phillipstown School, which had initially been earmarked for merger in four years time, will now be merged with Woolston School at the beginning of next year.
“We don’t believe the Ministry of Education has the capacity to do this within that short timeframe and this means that children’s education will be at risk.”
She says the pace appears to be set for political reasons rather than educational reasons.
“There is a big risk that children will end up being taught in hallways and school halls. This has happened in the past when schools have gone through these changes and where unrealistic timeframes were put in place.
“We know that the Christchurch recovery is going extremely slowly so we would ask how the education sector will make these changes well ahead of the pace of changes in the rest of Christchurch.
“Our top priority is to stand up for teachers, support staff and kids in Christchurch and support all schools to remain safe and stable environments where great teaching and learning can continue.
She says NZEI is committed to ensuring there are fair processes for all school staff through the next stage of the process.
“We have been in discussion with all schools in Christchurch and we will be offering a full range of assistance and support to those schools that have been targeted. This includes offering schools assistance as they undertake further engagement with their communities about whether to accept or fight the interim decisions.
"What is clear is that the schools will need additional support and resources from the Government to ensure the least possible disruption to students and teachers."
“We also want an assurance from the Minister that no other community in New Zealand will ever have to endure the disrespect, confused process, inaccurate information and lack of consultation that has been imposed on Christchurch communities over the past months.
“Any future decisions about Christchurch education must engage school communities in a way that is fair, respectful and provides clear processes for engagement, review and appeal.”