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Decision to merge Phillipstown and Woolston Schools

Decision to merge Phillipstown and Woolston Schools

The Education Minister Hekia Parata has announced her decision on the proposed merger of Phillipstown School and Woolston School.

"After a period of continued consultation and fresh consideration of the merger proposal, I have made a new decision that these schools will merge.

“It is now more than 18 months since I first announced my proposal that these schools merge. That is a very long time for the children, staff and communities of Phillipstown and Woolston to deal with uncertainty about their schools. I am glad to be providing certainty to them today.”

Ms Parata says there were a number of reasons for the merger.

“The reasons include the surplus of primary places in the local school network, Phillipstown’s small roll for a city school, and significant earthquake and other property related issues at both schools.

“Investing in one merged school gives us the opportunity to provide kids from Woolston and Phillipstown with the very latest and best in modern technology and resources. They will be taught and will learn in the very best environment possible.”

Ms Parata says the site will be significantly redeveloped to provide new modern learning environments at an estimated cost of $11.8 million.

The merged school will operate on the current Woolston School site from Term One, 2015.

“I have made a fresh decision for this date for a number of reasons. It provides the least disruption and most certainty. It also means there’s time for thoughtful and creative integration by both communities.”

Consultation continued following a judicial review brought by the Board of Phillipstown School against the earlier decision to merge.

Ms Parata says the ruling acknowledged the Crown went to considerable efforts to consult, and consultation was in good faith. But there had been an inadvertent error in the way information about estimated property costs was provided to the two schools.

"The focus of the continued consultation was on providing up to date information that was helpful and accessible. The Ministry and I went to every effort to ensure this was a good consultation process and that the issues identified by the Judge, which were very specific, were corrected."

Ms Parata met with the Board of Phillipstown School during the consultation period, and again after receiving its submission.

“I reviewed the material concerning Phillipstown and Woolston with fresh eyes. I have been open to the possibilities promoted by the Board of Phillipstown School on behalf of its parents and students. I took into account the submission of Woolston School on behalf of its community. I weighed up the fresh information together with analysis and advice from the Ministry,” Ms Parata says.

“I have been very mindful that the aspiration for education renewal in greater Christchurch is for significantly better provision for modern learning environments to equip all our children and young people with the values, knowledge and skills to be successful in the 21st century.

“This decision provides the communities of Phillipstown and Woolston with that critical opportunity.

“It provides a chance for the strengths of the two schools to be combined in the new merged school. The Board that I will appoint to oversee the merger is an important part of this, and I hope members of both school communities will be putting up their hands to take part in this work.

“The Government is investing $1.137 billion over 10 years in education renewal in greater Christchurch, and around $100m in the next year alone,” Ms Parata says.

“Exciting developments are already underway from decisions taken last year. Many look forward to the Phillipstown and Woolston merger being part of this exciting new education landscape.

“Our Government is absolutely committed to the communities of greater Christchurch,” Ms Parata says.


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