'Big picture' goal for new school dates

Blenheim secondary school students could be in a new, modern school building in fewer than four years.

The Ministry of Education has provided a possible timeframe for building a new school in response to questions asked by parents at a meeting on the future of secondary education in Blenheim earlier this month.

The future shape of Blenheim's secondary schooling is under review.

To build a new school could take 4 to 5 years on a new site.

If the community decided the new school should be built on the existing Marlborough Girls' College site, the process could be completed about 18 months earlier.

Designs and tenders would take 12 to 18 months before building could start, which was estimated to take two to three years.

Marlborough Girls' College principal Karen Stewart said she expected four- to five-year time frame because of the amount of work that would have to go into planning.

Decisions would need to be made about learning programmes for the schools for the next 50 years, which was a very big picture to look at, she said.

The ministry would send out a team to help with planning regardless of the site. There was a lot to think about before the colleges could look at the buildings, Stewart said.

"How could education change in the future and how best could we be prepared for that? In my time, we've gone from black chalkboards, to whiteboards to smartboards - we need to be adaptable to what comes next," she said.

Marlborough Boys' College board chairman Tony de Reeper said the time frame was not so long considering how much change could happen to education in Blenheim.

The focus would be on doing it right and would include a lot of consultation and planning to get the best result for future students, he said.

"It is fairly complex, but the colleges would first need to look at timetabling and what they would like to offer as a school before rooms and buildings can be decided on," he said.

Planning needed to be done properly with no duplications to get as much out of the budget provided by the ministry as possible.

It would be a lot of work, but would be very exciting at the same time, de Reeper said.

The Marlborough Express