Closure dates brought forward for 15 Canterbury schools

By Kate Shuttleworth

Teachers and students of Central New Brighton School protest school closures and merges at CBS Canterbury Arena. Photo / APN
Teachers and students of Central New Brighton School protest school closures and merges at CBS Canterbury Arena. Photo / APN

Fifteen of the 19 schools proposed for closure and merger in Canterbury have had the proposed time line brought forward by Education Minister Hekia Parata and the Education Ministry.

The ministry said three of the schools proposed for closure had their date of closure brought forward but would pay teachers until the beginning of next year.

Five of them would effectively close at the end of this year under proposals, as they now have two options in front of them.

Ms Parata said the dates had been brought forward to minimise staff leaving the schools when they secure new jobs.

Parents and principals at the three intermediates - Branston, Linwood and Manning - say the minister assured them the schools would remain open until the end of next year.

They had been so certain of a guarantee they enrolled students this year and had advertisements outside the school saying they were taking students this year and next.

Ms Parata is today standing by her comments made in Parliament yesterday that she made no such promise, and was firm that any dates given to schools were proposals - not promises.

"I am really clear both in terms of my verbal communication and the letters that I have written that every element was a proposal.

"Clearly they were just proposals, because we've received submissions on them."

Principal at Branston Intermediate, Jennifer O'Leary, is fuming, saying her integrity had been compromised after assuring parents they would have a two year window to allow their children to complete intermediate education in one place.

Labour MP Megan Woods was cynical about the move, saying schools that were in National Party electorates had been saved, while Labour strongholds were seeing closures and mergers - some in areas unaffected by the earthquake.

Labour's acting education spokesman Chris Hipkins said five of seven schools originally proposed for closure or merger in National's electorates were saved, while eight of the 25 schools in Labour electorates had been saved.

Minister Parata took a paper to Cabinet two weeks before proposals were announced to schools bringing forward the dates for proposed closures and mergers.

She said it would bring more certainty for schools.

Dates given in September 2012 for proposed mergers and closures:

Closures:
Branston Intermediate: January 2015
Glenmore School: January 2014
Greenpark School: January 2014
Kendal School: January 2015
Linwood Intermediate: January 2016
Manning Intermediate: January 2015
Richmond School: January 2014

Mergers:
Burwood and Windsor School: January 2016
Central New Brighton and South New Brighton School: January 2016
Freeville and North New Brighton School - January 2016
Lyttelton Main and Lyttelton West - January 2016
Phillipstown and Woolston School - January 2018 (based on new school being built at Linwood College site.
Unlimited and Discovery - no date.

Interim decision dates proposed in February 2013:

Closures:
Branston Intermediate - January 2014
Glenmoor School - January 2014
Greenpark School - January 2014
Kendall School - January 2014
Linwood Intermediate - if a final decision is made to close the school and make Linwood High year 7-13 the school wold close January 2014, if a final decision is made to increase local primary schools to include year 7-8 the school would close in January 2015.
Manning Intermediate - If a decision is made to close the school and to make Hillmorton High a year 7-14, the school would close in January 2014. If the decision is to increase local primary schools to include year 7-8 the school will close January 2015.
Richmond School: January 2014.

Mergers:
Burwood and Windsor: January 2014
Central New Brighton and South New Brighton School: January 2014
Freeville and North New Brighton School: January 2014
Lyttelton Main and Lyttelton West: January 2014
Phillipstown and Woolston School: January 2014.
Unlimited and Discovery - January 2014.

- APNZ

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