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'Slash and burn' school closures sell NZ short

Media Statement For immediate release Tuesday, 9 December, 2003

Dunne: 'Slash and burn' school closures sell NZ short

The Government needs to do away with its "slash and burn" approach to school closures and get more creative in rationalising schools in some communities, United Future leader Peter Dunne said today.

In jointly announcing United Future's schools policy with education spokesman Bernie Ogilvy, Mr Dunne said the heavy-handed approach was too evident too often from the Government.

Not enough regard is being paid to factors such as parental choice and community needs, he said.

"The Government should be looking at disbanding intermediate schools where the local primary schools have inadequate rolls; it needs to look at allowing a school to comprise several campuses where that meets the needs of the community it serves," he said.

"There is not enough investigation of resource-sharing among neighbouring schools in areas such as music, physical education, information technology and trade skills education.

"It's time to apply some lateral thinking. Slash and burn school closures are an injustice to children, their families and their communities.

"Yes, hard calls have to be made some times and some schools will have to close, but let's make sure that we really are getting the best return on our education investment as a nation, and that we apply more of a yardstick than just the dollar.

"Anyone can save a buck by closing something, be it a school or a business. It takes real management, and vision, to look further for better options," he said.

Ends.

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