Intermediate principals question 'secret agenda'

SAM SACHDEVA, GEORGINA STYLIANOU AND JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 15/09/2012

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Nearly half of Christchurch's intermediate schools could be wiped out by the education shake-up, leading principals to question if the Government has a "hidden agenda".

The city's intermediate schools seem to be disproportionately affected by the newly-announced plans. Four intermediate schools have been slated for closure, while Chisnallwood Intermediate may be folded into an Aranui campus for year 1-13 pupils.

Linwood Intermediate principal Lee Walker said intermediate schools helped to bridge the gap between primary and secondary levels.

"When you go to a primary school, you have one teacher for the whole day, then at a full secondary school you can have five teachers in one day. For some students, that's too much of a change."

He said the affected intermediate schools should have been given a chance to share their views before the proposals were announced.

"We're not opposed to change, and we've been on record saying that intermediate schools are keen to be part of a conversation around this, but to go right past that and close the discussion? You can't help but wonder if it's a hidden agenda," he said.

Chisnallwood Intermediate principal Richard Paton said losing any intermediate schools was "not in the best interests of communities".

Manning Intermediate principal Richard Chambers said he was disappointed there was only one proposal on the table for his school, and there would be a "widespread outcry" from intermediate school supporters.

"Schools are part of communities and intermediates are that stepping stone, and it makes a huge difference to the students," he said.

Adele Sullivan, whose daughter Ella attends Chisnallwood Intermediate, said she chose the school because it catered specifically for years 7 and 8 pupils.

"I just can't imagine what it's going to be like having 5-year-olds with 18-year-olds in one big school," she said.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said the value of intermediate schools had not been a factor in the Government's considerations.

"It isn't about a particular type of school, whether it's a kura or a primary school or an intermediate," she said and denied there was any ideology except one of how to raise learner achievement.

Education Ministry earthquake recovery programme manager Coralanne Child said no intermediate would close before 2015, allowing all children at present enrolled to complete their studies.

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