Single-sex classes favoured

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 07:43 28/03/2014

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Two-thirds of submissions on the future of secondary schooling in Blenheim supported single-sex classes, a report to the Ministry of Education and the two schools says.

The report by facilitator Janet Kelly was made public by the ministry yesterday, with confirmation that more work would be done on three options.

Ms Kelly's report said the majority of the more than 300 people who made submissions supported some form of change and saw benefits to be gained by sharing and collaborating between the colleges and closer links with tertiary providers.

She noted that building two single-sex colleges on the one site based on the King's and Queen's High School in Dunedin model was used as an example of how this could work with the option of incorporating a tertiary provider on the same or adjoining site.

Ms Kelly identified six options:

* Option 1: two single-sex colleges either on one site or close to each other, sharing specialist faculties with the ability for students to access modern learning environments.

Both single-sex and co-ed classes can be run. Explore the concept of a tertiary provider being included in deliberations of a green site, and the potential role the Marlborough District Council might play in potential land acquisition.

* Option 2: status quo: refurbishment and further development on the present college sites as the way to serve present and future students. Keep the colleges' footprint size.

* Option 3: retain two single-sex colleges and build a new co-educational school, bring the colleges up to building standards plus provide modern learning environments.

The three colleges to collaborate with shared facilities and teaching.

* Option 4: one purpose-built co-educational college.

* Option 5: retain both colleges on separate campuses but make them both co-ed. Either designate each as "distinct school of character" and maximise development of their capacity in areas such as science, sport, technology, performing arts, visual arts; each college would become a centre of excellence in its own area of expertise. Keep sharing between the colleges OR zone each college to service their side of the town.

* Option 6: senior high and junior high: with junior high single sex and the senior high co-educational classes.

Education Ministry acting head of sector enablement and support Jill Bond said options one, two and four would be further investigated.

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Ministry officials had met with Marlborough girls' and Marlborough boys' colleges and as a result a draft report was being prepared for Education Minister Hekia Parata.

"The report will cover work to date and considerations for future discussions.

"The minister will need to consider the advice before any further steps are determined. She will also be provided with a copy of the Kelly report."

In her report, Ms Kelly said there was a clear message that providing adequate space for students, particularly boys, was "of the utmost importance".

The submissions reflected the fact that the Marlborough community was very keen to explore the opportunities for the future delivery of secondary education further and engage in a further round of consultation, she said.

"They have noted it is important to look at options that will provide the opportunity to create innovative, flexible learning and teaching opportunities and spaces to meet the learning needs of Marlborough's secondary students for the next 50 years.

"The need for further consultation with the Marlborough community on informed options was clearly stated by many people both at the public meetings and through the submissions/responses," the report says.

FACTBOX

There had been 356 submissions received.

Of those, 31 were from Marlborough Boys' College staff, 7 from Marlborough Girls' College staff, 2 from college students, 160 from parents or grandparents, and 159 from community (some identified as more than one category).

The submissions supported a range of ideas, with some suggesting several options at the same time:

* 26% supported the status quo

* 63% supported single-sex colleges/classes

* 25% supported a co-education college

* 33% supported a combination of co-education and single sex

* 8% favoured a Junior High/Senior High option

* 29% supported a single site or close proximity to each other

* 8% general ideas or needing more information. 

JANET KELLY REPORT

- The Marlborough Express

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