Four Christchurch schools to be replaced

Aranui High School's days are numbered.
Aranui High School's days are numbered.

Four schools in some of the worst quake-damaged areas of Christchurch will be closed down and replaced by one super-school, Education Minister Hekia Parata announced today.

Aranui Community Campus will open in 2017, spelling the end for Avondale, Aranui, and Wainoni primary schools, along with Aranui High.

Ms Parata also announced today that three New Brighton schools - Freeville, Central New Brighton and North New Brighton - will merge in 2015.

Chisnallwood Intermediate has won its battle to stay open.

Ms Parata said the shake-up, which will cost an estimated $41 million, is a "significant milestone'' in the future of post-quake Christchurch's education.

It now means that all 38 schools affected by proposals announced last September in shambolic circumstances have received final decisions about their fate - or made their own decision to close.

"The Government is committed to the rebuild of Christchurch. That's why we're investing $1 billion into renewing the education network in greater Christchurch over the next 10 years,'' Ms Parata said.

"I want to acknowledge, once again, the enormous challenges faced by everyone in Christchurch following the earthquakes, and how impressed I have been by the resilience shown by the education sector.''

The ultra-modern purpose-built Aranui community campus will provide year 1-13 schooling and be built on the current Aranui High School site, opening at the start of term one in 2017.

Aranui High, Aranui School, Avondale School and Wainoni School will close on January 27, 2017.

Chisnallwood Intermediate will remain open on its current site, with a review in 2020 after other changes have bedded in.

"The community campus is a fresh and exciting approach to education in Aranui, with huge potential benefits for students and the wider community,'' Ms Parata said.

"This is the first campus of its kind in greater Christchurch, with successful examples operating in other parts of New Zealand.

"It will work to improve education outcomes in Aranui while providing community facilities and support in a suburb that was so badly affected in the earthquakes.''

Ms Parata believes the single-site school will help families with more than one child from early learning to employment, training, or higher education.

Further consultation on the campus will be led by the Aranui Community Leadership Group, which will now be set up, with the support of the Education Ministry.

"This consultation will give the whole community the chance to come up with innovative ideas for enhancing education and lifting student achievement in new and exciting ways,'' the minister said.

Central New Brighton, Freeville and North New Brighton Schools will merge at the start of term one 2015, initially on the Freeville and North New Brighton sites, and from 2016 on the North New Brighton.

The new school buildings on the North New Brighton site will give students access to modern learning environment facilities with the aim of lifting student achievement and supporting new and innovative ways of teaching, the Government said.

The minister will appoint a board of trustees for the New Brighton merger before the end of the year.

"It is important that the vision and planning for the merged schools has the early attention of a dedicated board,'' Ms Parata said today.

The Green Party said Ms Parata needed to apologise for causing "heartbreak'' to the children, families and teachers of the schools that would be closed.

Greens co-leader Metira Turei hoped the super-school was not being used as an excuse or opportunity for the Government to push a Public Private Partnership school.

"The minister needs to show that she is committed to strong public education, because everything else she has done so far has been undermining that, including the pushing through of charter schools,'' Mrs Turei said.

Labour's Associate Education spokeswoman for Christchurch, Megan Woods said the final verdict on the fate of eight schools ended months of uncertainty and anxiety and brought mixed emotions.

"While some see this as an opportunity for their local communities, others are grieving the loss of a treasured community asset,'' she said.

Outgoing Labour MP Lianne Dalziel said she would continue to advocate for education in the east.


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