High school merger mooted

KAROLINE TUCKEY
Last updated 10:41 15/05/2014

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Horowhenua Mail

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Mayor Brendan Duffy has back- tracked after initially denying knowledge of any discussions surrounding a Levin "super school", or talk of further co-operation between the town's high schools.

When the Horowhenua Mail first asked Duffy about the move this week, he said: "I've had no dialogue with anybody in relation to schools working cooperatively together." When questioned further he said he had "engaged in dialogue to determine where the level of interest might be in promoting the concept of a community discussion".

A source has told the Mail that a letter to the Ministry of Education on Horowhenua District Council letterhead has been circulated to schools by Duffy, to gain support for an inquiry into the possible benefits of combining Horowhenua College and Waiopehu College.

Another source confirmed formal discussions by the Board of Trustees at one of the high schools after being approached by Duffy about the letter to the Ministry.

The discussion included speculation that a large section of land potentially available on Kawiu Rd would be an ideal site for a super school.

Both sources said they were concerned the discussions were not being aired publicly, but asked to remain anonymous for fear of fallout from leaking information.

Horowhenua College board of trustees chair Chris Hartwell confirmed discussions had taken place relating to queries raised by Duffy and the future of secondary school education in Levin. "We're certainly aware as a board that Brendan has raised that issue of raising the educational outcomes within Levin.

"We're looking at, in five to 10 years time, what will Levin look like, and what will education require then?"

The issue was too large for the board, and needed to be discussed by the wider community, he said. The board had also proposed that the two colleges "get together to discuss that". However there were no predetermined outcomes, he said.

"At this stage we support what the mayor's trying to do, to initiate some discussion around raising educational outcomes, and looking to the future.

"And we're supporting going back to the Ministry to ask them to engage with the community around this."

It is understood the questions about the future of the two colleges was prompted by concerns around the perceptions of the quality of education in Levin.

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- Horowhenua Mail

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