2 Jun 2015

Students still in run-down school buildings

10:50 am on 2 June 2015

Run-down buildings at Northland College in Kaikohe dubbed 'ill equpped, unventilated, and unsafe' are still in place, three years after government education officials called for urgent action.

In 2012 the Education Review Office (ERO) cited unacceptable working conditions in substandard leaky buildings, which were having a detrimental effect on staff morale and student wellbeing.

Three years later, the school is still waiting to get new classrooms signed off by the Ministry of Education.

Jim Luders has been principal for those three years, and said the dilapidation was unlike anything he had ever seen before.

He told Nine to Noon the main buildings were run-down, there was asbestos on one roof area, though it had had spray treatment to seal it, and there was mould throughout the buildings because of leaks.

"Most of the classrooms we've done everything we possibly can to get them really well heated and to keep that mould out of those areas - it's mainly around the corridor and toilet areas," he said

The conditions were tough for both staff and pupils, especially in terms of health and safety.

"It's a worry for the mental health and not just the physical health," he said. It affected pupils' mana, how they perceived themselves and how they felt the community perceived them.

"Every single day is tough - it takes its toll ... To be working in such run-down conditions, it is wearing, it wears one down over time."

Mr Luders said red tape had slowed things down but expected documents proposing a full rebuild would go to the Education Minister's office for sign off in about two weeks.

"Even if it was signed off in two weeks, if we're very very lucky it might start by the end of the year ... I can't see we're going to have buildings until 2017. "

He said the buildings had become dilapidated over a long time despite Ministry of Education funding for maintenance.