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Secondary schools hold on to night classes

BY CARLY TAWHIAO
Last updated 05:00 27/01/2010

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Community education will continue at some Auckland secondary schools this year despite funding cuts of almost 80 percent.

From February, night classes will run at Western Springs College, Mt Albert Grammar, Onehunga High School and Mt Roskill Grammar.

But both Lynfield College and Mt Eden's Auckland Community Learning Centre have cancelled their programmes.

Onehunga High School and Mt Roskill Grammar were two of 24 schools in New Zealand to secure a share of the $2.8 million funding earmarked for literacy and numeracy courses by the government.

They were allocated $185,000 and $97,000 respectively, which they can choose to distribute to other schools.

Onehunga High School Adult Learning Centre director Linda Melrose says most of their money will be used to provide English classes.

"The school is delighted to be able to offer classes. An enormous amount of work has been put into
developing a programme that is part user-pays and part government supported."

Mt Albert Grammar School has been given a $45,000 handout from Selwyn College's $261,000 pool.

Mt Albert Grammar's community education co-ordinator Jan Springett says with the government-supported programme many new standards must be met in order to get the funding.

"It comes with huge criteria that must be accounted for. We must record people's progress and prove that students have benefited."

Ms Springett says because more than half of its funding has been taken away, some hobby courses have been dropped and others will be self-funded, with an expected 30 percent increase in cost to the student.

"By charging more it remains to be seen if people will pay more and come. It's very much a wait-and-see game."

One Tree Hill College has kept its portion of money tied up in Onehunga High School's package and will not be co-ordinating its own programmes.

Western Springs College decided not to apply for funding because of eligibility reasons and has opted to
take a private approach instead.

With support from the college's board, community education co-ordinator Bridget Klubien says she
is determined to deliver a high quality programme without government funding.

She is also employing specialised tutors for new lessons in golf, sewing, Russian, and worm farming and calls the project an interesting risk.

"I'm not sure how it will go. We're really just putting it out there. In four more weeks I'll have a better idea."

Although classes are priced higher than before, with some art classes costing twice as much, Ms Klubien says they are still good value.

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She says the enrolment criteria has also broadened.

"Students 16 and older, whether still at school or not, will be able to enrol with some classes open to those 12-plus."

About half of the community education centres within the Auckland region have closed down and the remainder will run on reduced funding or independently.

In addition schools will no longer be required to distribute funding to community groups, meaning many organisations will be prioritising their educational programmes this year as well.

- Central Leader

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