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Statement on prayer room funding

Statement on prayer room funding

Education Minister Trevor Mallard today tempered his criticisms of Hagley Community College in Christchurch for using its property funding to provide facilities to a particular religious group.

"The Ministry of Education advised me that the school elected to use the funding for this purpose. This is true but I have now been advised that this was done with the approval and assistance of the ministry's regional office in Christchurch.

"The funding was an advance on the school's accommodation entitlement under the secondary school property guide which sets out the amount of space schools are entitled to, according to roll size.

"I still believe public funding in schools should only be used for educational purposes, and I will be discussing this with the Secretary of Education. I will also be discussing with the Secretary the fact that I was not briefed on the actions of the Christchurch office when this matter was first raised last year.

"It is my expectation that both the school and I will receive an apology for the embarrassment we have suffered. I certainly would not have made my earlier comments in that tone if I had been fully briefed. While I stand by my view that the spending was inappropriate, I apologise to the school for the anguish they have suffered," Trevor Mallard said.

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