Christchurch teachers to strike over Government reforms

File photo / APN
File photo / APN

Christchurch teachers have confirmed they will strike next month to protest against radical Government education reforms in the rebuilding city.

Teachers and principals voted for the action on February 19 - the day after Education Minister Hekia Parata is due to reveal final plans to close or merge 39 schools.

The action was decided at a teachers' union meeting last month after rising anger and concern over the proposals, as well as concerns over amendments to the Education Act that will legalise charter schools. More than 83 per cent voted for strike action.

New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) local chairwoman Sandra Spekreijse confirmed the move today, saying it wasn't a decision taken lightly.

"We're aware of the impact on families if we go out on strike,'' said the Waikuku Primary teacher.

"But we feel that strongly about it, and we've tried all the proper channels, and feel that this is the only option we've got left.''

The proposed closures and mergers affect hundreds of children at schools across Christchurch.

The biggest changes have been earmarked for the schools across the quake-affected eastern suburbs.

The NZEI has made a formal request to the Ministry of Education to put the decisions on hold and to launch "some proper consultation'' but it's fallen on deaf ears, Mrs Spekreijse said.

She said parents, and the wider community, are backing the action, especially given the key role schools played in providing children much-needed stability after the devastating earthquakes.

"We fail to see the big picture from the ministry in terms of education for Canterbury,'' says Mrs Spekreijse.

"The process hasn't been fair and robust. It shouldn't be a five-minute decision, it shouldn't be a Band-Aid. It's something we really need to consider.

"We want our children to stay here and have an amazing future in our rebuilt city.''

- APNZ

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