25 Sep 2015

School closure consult 'farce' says principal

9:57 am on 25 September 2015

The decision to close an East Cape kura next year was already rubber-stamped and the consultation process was a farce, its principal says.

Raukore School pupils with teacher/principal Merle Callaghan

Raukore School pupils with teacher/principal Merle Callaghan Photo: Supplied

Education Minister Hekia Parata's announcement that three kura would merge into one was met with dismay by Raukokore School.

Its principal Merle Callaghan said it would look at options including becoming a charter school in order to stay open.

She said while there were three years of negotiation about the school's future, the consultation that took place after an interim decision was made gave the community false hope.

The government should just get rid of the process, Ms Callaghan said.

"It gave false hope to the genuine people who believed we had a chance.

"We're not accepting what they're dishing out to us at the moment. We're looking at possibilities. Most of the parents do not want to send their children to the Kaha site [the new kura] so we're looking at homeschooling, a partnership school where we find a sponsor [charter school], or becoming an independent school because this is where the children belong."

Ms Callaghan said one of the submissions put forward to the Ministry of Education was by a Waikato University professor.

She said he proposed attaching a marine research centre to the kura due to the area's unique coastal ecology.

Ministry of Education head of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey responded with a statement:

"No closure decision is ever taken lightly. The communities of all three schools were formally consulted twice, but we have been engaging with the Western East Cape community over schooling since 2012.

"We received many submissions and after an interim decision was made, Minister Parata attended a public hui at Te Kaha to say no changes would be made until careful consideration of the second round of consultation feedback had been completed.

"Submissions from the second round of consultation were considered on their merits. None of the submissions were able to sufficiently address the immediate concerns about the educational viability of the declining roll at Raukokore School."