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Metropolitan College Told It Is Likely To Close


26 October 2001 Media Statement

Auckland Metropolitan College Told It Is Likely To Close

Education Minister Trevor Mallard has accepted a recommendation that Auckland Metropolitan College should close, and the school now has one last chance to present its case.

The college's board of trustees have 28 days to present the Government with any further arguments in favour of the school staying open, before the final decision is taken.

Today’s announcement follows extensive consultation by the Ministry of Education.

Trevor Mallard said he had carefully considered the views of all stakeholders, including the school and its community, other Auckland state secondary schools, and the local Mt Eden community.

"I acknowledge that there is considerable support for this school, and I want the school and its community to know that this decision was not made lightly.

“However, the State’s primary responsibility is to provide a quality education to the young people of New Zealand.

"In this case, Auckland Metropolitan College has been given a great deal of support but unfortunately it has been unable to sustain significant improvements in the essential areas of learning and teaching and student attendance."

Trevor Mallard said a final decision about the future of the school would be made after he had considered all of the information provided by the board of trustees.

In the event of the school closing at the end of the year, the Ministry of Education would work with the students and their families to find appropriate alternative education placements for the students in 2002.

Trevor Mallard noted that there are two clear groups of young people who would need placement; a smaller group of generally older students who preferred an alternative approach to education and a group of mainly younger students who needed increased support.

ENDS

BACKGROUND TO THE ISSUE:

 In August 2001 the Secretary for Education advised the Minister of Education that he should consider closing Auckland Metropolitan College. His advice was based on the following issues:
 the board and staff of the college were unable to provide quality teaching and learning;
 there was poor student attendance;
 absenteeism; and
 student achievement was very poor.
 The Education Review Office has completed eight reviews and reports on Auckland Metropolitan College since August 1992.
 The Education Review Office has noted serious concerns about the quality of education being provided to students.
 The February and November 1996 reports recommended that the College be closed.
 During consultation with the college, the Ministry noted that the board had made some progress towards resolving areas of non-compliance.
 In 1998 the Secretary deferred a decision on the closure of the school and gave the school 2 years to bring the college up to the standard required of all state schools and to improve the quality of teaching and learning.
 The Education Review Office carried out a Discretionary Review in May 2001 and in its report stated that despite considerable efforts of the board and the director Auckland Metropolitan College is not providing good quality teaching or appropriate curriculum programmes across the school. The report states that the school is not meeting the needs of its students.

KEY FACTS AND FIGURES:
 After careful consideration of the responses to the consultation, and the submission from the board of trustees of the college the Minister of Education has made a preliminary decision to close Auckland Metropolitan College under section 154 of the Education Act 1989.
 The roll of the school has decreased over the past five years. Of the 15 October roll of 83 there are 26 students who will be of compulsory schooling age on 1 February 2002. 19 of these students will be under 15 ½ years of age. The majority of students are post compulsory schooling age. Transience is an issue and over 80% of the roll changes over each year
 About 85% of the school’s roll is made up of students identified as “at-risk”. The remaining 15% can be identified as students wanting alternative style education.

Education Review Office reviews and closure process
 The Education Review Office has produced eight reviews and reports on Auckland Metropolitan College since August 1992.

 In the February and November 1996 reports, the Education Review Office recommended closure of the school because of issues of long-standing non-compliance.
 Reports identified serious concerns about management practices in the school related to student attendance and curriculum delivery.
 On 5 February 1997 the Secretary for Education informed the Auckland Metropolitan College board of trustees that he was considering closing the school under section 154 of the Education Act 1989.
 The Ministry consulted with the board of trustees of other schools whose rolls might be affected if Auckland Metropolitan College closed.
 This consultation brought responses from 30 secondary schools supporting the need to retain the school on the grounds that it provided a form of choice for parents and/or students.
 On 15 April 1997 the Secretary for Education informed the school that the two main criteria he would use to make a decision about closure were:
- the satisfactory resolution of compliance issues and issues of concern identified by the Education Review Office
- that the philosophy, policies and procedures and the management of the school were compatible with legislative and regulatory obligations and undertakings to the Crown.
 In 1998 the Education Review Office commented on improvements in governance and management but still noted serious concerns about attendance and curriculum delivery.
 Following the 1998 report the Secretary for Education deferred the decision on closure of Auckland Metropolitan College for 2 years to allow the board time to bed in the improvements and to bring the quality of learning and teaching up to the standard expected of all state schools.
 The latest report provides evidence that the improvements in the quality of learning and teaching have not happened and that despite support from the Ministry and considerable efforts by the board and the director other improvements are unlikely to be sustained. The ERO report recommends the Secretary for Education advise the Minister to consider closure of Auckland Metropolitan College.
 Other consultant and Monitor reports supported the ERO findings.
 Consultation as required by S157 Education Act 1989 was undertaken by the Ministry of Education on behalf of the Minister. The Ministry consulted with all state schools likely to be affected, the school community, the local community and identified Maori stakeholders.

 Although a majority of state secondary schools consulted supported Auckland Metropolitan College remaining open as they considered it provided for students who had no other option – it was a school of ‘last resort’, over one third of schools indicated acceptance of, or supported the possibility of closure. All schools considered there was a need for alternative provision of education that best meets the requirements of students who have high behavioural needs.

 A letter writing campaign to Members of Parliament strongly supported the school remaining open. Most of this correspondence came from past and current members of the school community.

KEY MESSAGES:
 Students currently attending Auckland Metropolitan College have a right to
 good quality teaching and learning
 have their education, social and emotional needs met
 the opportunity to achieve their potential
 Despite considerable improvements there are still serious concerns over the quality of teaching and learning at the college.
 The Ministry and the Minister has an obligation to ensure that the best possible education is being provided to the students
 After considering all the consultation responses and the information provided the Minister of Education has not changed his viewpoint that the initial advice from the Secretary for Education was appropriate and he has therefore made a preliminary decision to close the school.
 The Minister has informed the board of trustees that it has 28 days to advise him in writing if it has any arguments in favour of the school staying open. The 28-day period finishes on 22 November 2001.
 No final decision on closure will be made until the 28-day period is completed and the Minister has considered any response provided by the board of the college.
 The board had almost 3 years and considerable support from the Ministry to bring the college up to the standard expected of all state schools.

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