New $15m school to be built north of Christchurch

Construction on a new $15 million school north of Christchurch will start in April, Education Minister Hekia Parata has confirmed today.

A high-tech, energy efficient Waikuku School in the new development of Pegasus will cater for up to 600 children and showcase the future of education in the embattled region, she said today.

During a visit to Canterbury today, the under-fire minister also revealed that earthquake-damaged Halswell Primary School will be completely rebuilt on its site, costing $18m.

Both schools should be finished by "the beginning of the 2014 school year,'' Ms Parata vowed today.

She also confirmed the Government has plans to build four brand-new schools in Canterbury over the next 10 years.

"We have a chance to build brighter, more modern schools with great new facilities, and ensure all children are getting access to good, quality education within a close distance of where they live,'' she said.

The Ministry of Education has been roundly criticised for its handling of a proposed shake-up of education in post-disaster greater Christchurch.

Ms Parata will announce details of her controversial plan to merge 18 and close 13 city schools on February 18.

Teachers have voted to strike in protest against the plans the following day.

Ms Parata says the devastating earthquakes have provided an "opportunity to have a look at all the schools across greater Christchurch and see what we could do better''.

She said the new Waikuku School and Halswell Primary schools will be at the cutting edge of modern education.

"This includes new facilities with flexible spaces, access to ultra-fast broadband and energy-efficient buildings, with plenty of natural light and fresh air,'' the minister said.

"These schools are designed to reflect the advice of education experts to ensure that students can be taught using the latest techniques and technology.''

- APNZ

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