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Rural schools savaged in South Canterbury

Hon Bill English MP
National Education Spokesperson

30th January 2004

Rural schools savaged in South Canterbury

The restructuring of schools in South Canterbury can only be described as savage, says National's Education spokesman Bill English.

"Every rural school under 100 pupils is now at risk of closure unless they are protected by isolation.

"In South Canterbury Labour have taken the most extreme option and closed every rural school they could. The schools here are typical of rural schools that can be found in every part of New Zealand. Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton has stood by and watched this happen in his own electorate, so the rural community can expect no support from him.

"Until now rural schools have had the option of using the Educational Development Initiative (EDI) process. This was used when schools became too small in my own area in Southland - over a dozen schools have used this option in recent years voluntarily. It gives the parents and the community some control over a difficult issue.

"It is time for rural groups to stand up and fight for their schools. Some are too small and unsuccessful. But many are doing an excellent job, and Labour has shown in South Canterbury that they don't know the difference," said Mr English.

Ends

Schools savaged in South Canterbury: Salisbury (55 pupils on 2003 roll) Pareora East (62) Fairview (92) Milford (47) Seadown (40) Pleasant Point High School (235)

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