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Christchurch Quakes at Closures

19 February 2013

Christchurch Quakes at Closures

Christchurch schools were yesterday forced to absorb yet another blow as the Minister of Education announced which schools would close, merge or survive in the wake of the devastating earthquakes which have rocked the region for the past two years.

‘My focus today is entirely on extending my support to the nineteen school principals, their students and their families who were told yesterday that their schools would close or merge,’ said Philip Harding, President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF).

In acknowledging the good news that the Minister had resiled from her earlier announcement to close or merge thirty-one schools, Harding said that his organisation remained committed to seeking active involvement in constructing a better consultation process for any future school network reviews anywhere else in the country.

‘There are lessons to learn from the Christchurch experience,’ said Harding. ‘The consultation process for this network review which led to the Minister’s first announcement was deeply flawed. It was disappointing and caused unnecessary grief,’ he said.

‘Initial decisions were based on information that kept changing, school communities and principals did not feel that the Minister or Ministry properly engaged with alternative solutions which they presented and there was a general sense that the whole process was predetermined,’ he said.

The key lesson is that if we want to give confidence to the education sector in the future, we have to engage them. Any review process must be based on sound information, a shared rationale and fair process,’ he said.

Of the thirty-one schools originally announced to close or merge, seven schools were closed, twelve schools are to merge and twelve schools will remain open.

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