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‘No Clear Direction’: Schools Await Fate Of Building Projects

30 May 2024

Crunchtime is fast approaching for two North Canterbury schools bulging at the seams.

Woodend School and Te Kura o Tuahiwi are on the Ministry of Education’s list of 352 building projects under review.

The review is not expected to be completed until July.

Te Kura o Tuahiwi, a Māori immersion and bilingual school between Kaiapoi and Rangiora, was due to receive five new classrooms and a new hall, with building set to begin last December and be completed next month.

But it was delayed and is now on hold, pending the review.

Principal Dot Singh said the project was designed to take the school’s capacity to 230 students.

For the now school is sitting at its present capacity of 160, with another 33 pupils pre-enrolled to start later this year.

‘‘Now we are wondering where we will put all of those tamariki.

‘‘I feel they (the Ministry) will come to the party in some form, it just might not be how we planned it.’’

Woodend School principal Andrew Retallick said his roll was continuing to grow faster than anticipated.

‘‘As off today we have 480 students enrolled, so now it is looking like we will have have at least 520 by the end of the year.

‘‘I’ve had 70 students enrol so far this year and we have 50 year 8s leaving at the end of the year, so it shows you how much we are growing.’’

The site’s capacity is around 490 and by using the school library as a classroom, Mr Retallick said the school could cater for around 510 students.

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The school’s growth comes on the back of the booming Ravenswood sub-division.

‘‘The toughest part is the uncertainty and having no clear direction, but I can’t do anything about it until I get some direction from the Ministry,’’ he said.

Schools around the country are feeling the pressure while they wait for an update from the Ministry of Education’s review.

Education Minister Erica Stanford announced an inquiry in February, which immediately put the brakes on the projects.

At the time, Ms Stanford said the scope of the building works were ‘‘unrealistic and unaffordable’’.

Ministry of Education Te Tai Runga (South) Hautū (leader) Nancy Bell said there were no updates on the North Canterbury building projects.

‘‘We continue to work closely with the schools in our planning to deliver roll growth teaching spaces to accommodate the schools’ in-zone rolls as required.’’

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