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CPPA Welcomes Ministry of Education Apology


The Canterbury Primary Principals’ Association welcomes the overdue apology from the Ministry of Education for their very poor management of the closures and mergers of schools following the 2011 earthquakes.

CPPA president Marg Trotter is delighted with the findings of the Chief Ombudsman, Peter Boshier, and says that his findings mirror precisely all the concerns that every Canterbury principal has held from the day the bombshell was dropped in September 2012.

"We were braced for bad news," said Trotter, "but the affected school leaders were summonsed to a meeting with the then Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, to be completely blindsided. Schools were literally labelled with different coloured stickers as they arrived, indicating survival or closure or merger. Principals could not fathom the scale, the scope, and the complete absence of any consistency to the decision making. There were schools slated for closure who had suffered no damage, had lost no students, and simply were totally unprepared for such devastating news."

"The period that followed was no better, and schools who could mobilise influence and their communities fared better at resisting the inevitable, and in some cases saved their schools using what felt like political influence," said Trotter. "This created a perception of unfairness, and a real sense of being dealt to, especially for those in the eastern suburbs. It felt as though an opportunity was being seized and used as an excuse. There was also a lack of confidence in the numbers and the data that were being used to justify decisions."

The CPPA now looks forward to recording with the Ministry the lessons hopefully learned, which relate to more than just closures and mergers, and should consider all decisions which will impact on a school and its community of parents, staff, and children.

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