Merger would set boys back - school head

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 06:52 03/12/2013
College plan
Scott Hammond

Big turnout: About 200 people attended the meeting on the future of Blenheim's colleges at the Convention Centre last night

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Marlborough Boys' College risks losing its culture and history in potential changes for schooling in Blenheim, principal Wayne Hegarty says.

At the end of a public meeting in Blenheim last night, he spoke strongly against any potential merger of his school with Marlborough Girls' College.

Mr Hegarty told the 200 people at the meeting that he had fears about the review of secondary schooling in Blenheim.

Some were "purely selfish", he said. There had been a lot of work done and successes achieved over the past four years and he wanted to see plans for more worked through.

"I have a job and a place and I love it."

But there were wider issues and the biggest of those was the lack of space on the girls' college site, followed by the loss of the boys' college's history and the symbolism of its big building and front field.

"I was really open to this till I saw the plan [the Education Ministry's concept plan of how the 2000 potential students could fit on the site]. That plan scares me a lot.

"When I looked at that plan and saw one sports field when we have access to four, and we're going to put our boys and 1000 girls there, it's a major stumbling block."

The girls' college site in McLauchlan St was too small to do what the school leaderships wanted to do, Mr Hegarty said.

"We're a provincial New Zealand school. We're a boys' school. Our boys need to run around, that's what boys do. We need the space to do it."

He argued the boys' college could be upgraded to achieve a modern learning environment for less than it would cost to merge the schools.

It would take a lot of work, but it could be done, he said.

Parents in Marlborough should be demanding that the Government pay what was needed to provide good education for their children, Mr Hegarty said.

"Why don't the kids of this community deserve the money like that to be spent on them?"

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- The Marlborough Express

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