19 Feb 2013

Parata says post-quake changes had to be made

5:12 pm on 19 February 2013

Education Minister Hekia Parata has defended the Government's decision to close or merge 19 schools in Christchurch, saying changes had to be made in the wake of of New Zealand's biggest natural disaster.

Ms Parata told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Tuesday that post-quake population changes in many areas will also require the building of 15 new schools.

The Government proposes that seven schools will close at the end of this year and another 12 will merge.

Ms Parata said it is too early to say how many teaching jobs will be lost. She said the proposal is at an interim stage, but as parents make decisions on which school their child will attend, the affect on teacher numbers will become clear.

However, Cabinet papers show more than 50 full-time teaching jobs will be cut in the closures and mergers planned, Radio New Zealand'seducation correspondent reports.

The papers show there are 44 fulltime teaching jobs at the schools the Government wants to close. They also show the Government expects the proposed mergers will result in at least six fewer full-time teacher jobs at the merged schools.

Schools have until 28 March to make submissions on the plans announced on Monday.

Legal action tipped

Phillipstown Primary School is considering taking legal action over being told to merge with another Christchurch school.

It is one of 12 schools in the city slated to merge by January 2014.

Principal Tony Simpson said the Ministry of Education gave an undertaking the school would not merge until 2018 and told Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme on Tuesday the original undertaking could provide the basis for legal action.

Central New Brighton School lowered its flag to half mast after being told it is to merge with South New Brighton School at South New Brighton's site.

Principal Toni Burnside said the ministry told her the merge would not happen for three years but, it is scheduled for early next year. The school was founded 124 years ago.