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Education Ministry Plays School Bully

Press Release

Education Ministry Plays School Bully

Heather Roy MP
Wednesday, 7 May, 2008

ACT New Zealand Education Spokesman Heather Roy today demanded to know how Education Minister Chris Carter could sit by and allow Longbeach School pupils to be taught in a shipping container - especially given that it is his Ministry that has put the school in this position to begin with.

"I have worked with the school for the past six months to try and address roll growth and overcrowding issues. The Board of Trustees has done everything that could reasonably be expected of them - consulting with the community and other local schools and meeting many times with Ministry officials," Mrs Roy said.

"Yesterday I attended the opening of Longbeach School’s ‘Classroom Five’, a shipping container that will be classroom to some of the schools pupils this year. The School has been forced to go to this measure because the Education Ministry refuses to give them the additional classroom to which it is entitled.

"With 115 pupils, Longbeach School - a merger of Flemington, Eiffleton and Willowby rural schools - has 5 teachers but just 4 teaching spaces. It is entitled to a new classroom. By July 1 the roll will have risen to 126, necessitating yet another teacher and 2 extra teaching spaces; by year-end the roll will reach 135.

"Due to lack of classroom space, pupils have been taught in the school library and corridors for the last fifteen months.

"Yet the Ministry refuses to give Longbeach even the one extra classroom it requested - demanding, instead, that the school implement an enrolment zone. Longbeach has submitted a proposal based on an Educational Development Initiative document - in which the region’s schools agreed to informal boundaries - only to be knocked back by the Ministry.

"It is outrageous that the Ministry first tried to use zoning as a weapon, and will now ride roughshod over this school and its community. A shipping container is no place to teach primary school pupils, but its use is a last resort by a school that has been left with no other options.

"ACT believes that parents should have the right to choose what school their children attend. Longbeach parents have done just that: they know what school is best for their children, but the Ministry is using bully-boy tactics to get its way," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

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