Hekia Parata neutral on schools' future

GERMARI HERSELMAN
Last updated 11:51 02/06/2014

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Education Minister Hekia Parata has remained neutral in her early comments on the future of Blenheim's colleges, saying she did not want to influence stakeholders before submissions close.

Parata visited three schools in Marlborough on Friday, but did not meet representatives of Marlborough boys' and girls' colleges.

She said her visit was the result of a long-held promise to Kaikoura MP Colin King and was not related to the colleges issue.

Her main focus when considering the future shape of Blenheim's secondary education delivery would be how to make the transition from primary to secondary, and then to tertiary education, the smoothest for students.

The ministry focused to best prepare students for the next phase, clearly and simply. The focus needs to be on more than just secondary education, how does it fit in with links to tertiary and primary.

She encouraged people to have their say on which of the three proposed options they preferred and said the ministry would provide the appropriate support to the community to enable people to make an informed decision.

"What would be best for the students of Marlborough is not about what I want or the money."

She was pleased with the options the community had come up with so far and the degree of interest the community and colleges were showing.

Parata said the changes would affect the entire community and she hoped as many people as possible would have their say by the August 1 deadline.

"We need the wisdom of grandparents, what do parents and teachers think and the students too, everyone needs to be heard," she said.

The minister started a formal consultation process last week after reading a report prepared by the ministry after initial public consultations during December and January.

She has given the school boards and community until August 1 to provide feedback on three options, so that she could make her final decision.

The options are to relocate one or both schools as two single sex colleges on one site or close to each other, to retain the colleges as they are, or to build one new co-educational secondary school.

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- The Marlborough Express

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