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Save Karetu Primary School - A National Treasure

Save Karetu Primary School - A National Treasure

If Education Minister Trevor Mallard really cared about the education of Bay of Islands children he would butt out and leave their good schools alone, ACT New Zealand Education Spokesman Deborah Coddington said today.

"Last Thursday I paid another visit to the Russell Peninsula and Northland where 18 schools are facing merger or closure.

"The parents feel they are being railroaded into a decision. The consultation process is a crock. The so-called 'independent' facilitators used by the Education Ministry are hardly independent.

"Eric Pedersen is the chief facilitator on contract to the Ministry. Yet prior to this, he was senior manager at the Education Ministry's head office in Wellington. Parents in this area are not confident that Mr Pedersen is not just pushing the Ministry line - that is, close schools to save money.

"Russell Peninsula parents have been presented with models for discussion that will see Karetu School close and/or Waikere School close, and these pupils expected to go to Russell School or Opua, or Kawakawa - regardless of what the parents want.

"Karetu School is an excellent school - a real gem with a fantastic principal, Rob Webb. Parents fully support this school. It has four classrooms and a new administration and ablutions block. Educational achievements are good and the children are justifiably proud of their school.

"But Mr Mallard wants it closed. The only reason can be to save money. To suck money out of provincial areas like this, and spend it on resolving the teachers' pay disputes and new classrooms in Auckland where some schools are bursting at the seams.

"The Ministry estimates in 2021 there will be 71,000 fewer primary school children and the Minister arrogantly advises parents to 'have more babies' if they want to save their schools.

"Why should the good children and parents at Karetu and Waikere Schools pay for some nebulous prediction about what might happen in 18 years' time?

"Who would have thought Labour would be closing down schools en masse? Labour's 'greatest prime minister and minister of education' Peter Fraser - who advocated `education for all' - would be spinning in his grave," Miss Coddington said.

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