D-day for Christchurch schools

By Kieran Campbell

Staff of campuses affected by quake to be told today which will close under Ministry of Education's plans.

Christchurch after demolition. Photo / Supplied
Christchurch after demolition. Photo / Supplied

The fate of Christchurch schools facing closure or being merged will be known today when Education Minister Hekia Parata announces the Government's decisions.

Ministry of Education staff will visit 31 of the 38 schools under the spotlight of the Government's education renewal plans to tell teachers and principals in person of the interim decisions.

Ms Parata will speak at midday and will be broadcast online for parents who want to hear the news.

Parents, teachers and principals were angry over the Government's handling last year of the decision to close and merge schools affected by population movement and earthquake damage in the greater Christchurch region.

Ms Parata says she has listened to their opinions.

A petition signed by more than 11,000 Canterbury teachers calling for the Government's plans for the future of education in the region to be stopped was tabled in Parliament in December, with Labour Party MP Megan Woods describing the plan as being "bungled from the beginning".

Ms Parata said: "What I can tell you about Monday's announcement is that I have listened to feedback from parents and schools and made some changes to our proposals."

She added, "The face and make-up of greater Christchurch has, and will, change dramatically due to the earthquakes, and schools need to respond to those changes as well."

The 31 schools affected by the announcement have a total roll of about 5500 students, the equivalent of 7.6 per cent of the school population in the region.

About 5000 places were available in Christchurch schools before the earthquakes. A further 4300 children have not re-enrolled since, meaning there are now 9300 places available.

"That's roughly the same as the entire student population of Gisborne," Ms Parata said.

"The aftermath of the earthquakes gave us a chance to have a look at all the schools across greater Christchurch and see what we could do better."

More consultation will follow the interim decisions and final decisions are expected to be made in May.

Ms Parata will be broadcast on shapingeducation.govt.nz.

A letter for parents will be sent home with all the children at the 31 affected schools outlining the decisions and what it means for them.

"I acknowledge change is difficult," Ms Parata said, "and in making these decisions I am mindful the people and families of greater Christchurch have been through a lot."

- APNZ

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