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Opononi Area School

10 Sep 2008

Call for strongest action of critical support for Opononi Area School

Minister Chris Carter's announcement of imminent appointment of a commissioner to run Opononi Area School in South Hokianga has been cautiously welcomed by concerned parents and community members.

The commissioner's appointment follows the release of the latest Education Review Office's report in which ERO has serious concerns about the quality of professional leadership provided by the principal and the quality of education provided by Opononi Area School.

Concerned parents and community members call on Minister Carter to ensure there is adequate support to save the school from further decline.

Spokesperson Mrs Lena Adams said: "We want the current staffing and funding levels to be frozen immediately and held for a minimum of 18 months. This is urgently needed to support the current operation and give the staff, students and parents confidence that Opononi Area School's viability is assured during the commissioner's initial stages. Without such an assurance, staff and students are likely to look elsewhere and this will further erode the school's position."

Without such a ministerial intervention, more than $250,000 will be removed from the school and community due to a loss of 30% of the school roll. This will have a devastating impact on students, staff, families and the community.

Concerned parents and community members call on Northern Area Manager, Chris Eve, to ensure the commissioner is suitably skilled and experienced to work with a school with 91% Maori students and with the community in Hokianga. The appointee's terms of engagement should include the successful implementation of "engaging taitamariki in learning"[ETL] at Opononi Area School.

Mrs Adams said, "Previous efforts by the community to get the Principal and Board of Trustees to explore this special initiative in Tai Tokerau fell on deaf ears. The commissioner inherits amongst other things the challenge of engaging taitamaraki in learning and raising Maori educational achievement. We believe the ETL strategy is ideally suited for our school and community."

While acknowledging yesterday's development through Minister Carter, Mrs Adams said: "The minister's initial response is appreciated but it needs to be immediately followed with critical financial support to address the crisis with the strongest action of support. Our school and community urgently need that assurance and support."

ENDS

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