Schools on the move

SAD DAY: Alistair Hayes and his sister, Charlotte, are uncertain about the future of their schools, Shirley Boys' and Avonside Girls'.
SAD DAY: Alistair Hayes and his sister, Charlotte, are uncertain about the future of their schools, Shirley Boys' and Avonside Girls'.

Quake-damaged Christchurch schools could be forced to share sites, with pupils being taught in two shifts.

About 20 primary and secondary principals met Education Ministry officials yesterday to discuss options to reopen city schools.

For schools that will not be able to reopen for months, if not years, options include setting up prefabricated classrooms on site, temporarily moving to a new site and school sharing.

Shirley Boys' High principal John Laurenson said it was unlikely its 1500 pupils would return to the North Parade site this year, as the school might have to be demolished.

The school grounds were awash with silt and many buildings had serious structural damage.

The South Island's largest boys' school was considering sharing premises with an undamaged school.

"We are exploring the logistics of linking with another school until our site is remediated or rebuilt," he said.

That would mean splitting the day into a morning and afternoon shift, with one school starting early and the other starting late, he said.

The practicality of such a move needed to be discussed with teachers, unions and parents.

He rejected the suggestion that Shirley Boys' High pupils be distributed among other schools because it was important to keep the school community together.

Avonside Girls' High principal Sue Hume said structural damage meant the school would need to share another campus for at least the short term. "It seems clear that in the interim we will need to move," she said. "Site sharing seems like a sensible option."

Marian College principal Anna Heffernan said her school was looking at sharing the St Bede's College campus. She believed many high schools would have to share sites for the short term.

"There are 10,000 students affected and you can't bring in prefabs for 10,000 students."

It was still unclear when pupils could return to the Marian College site: "We are awaiting feedback from engineers."

All three principals hoped to reopen at new sites as soon as possible, with Laurenson targeting next week.

Canterbury Primary Principals' Association president Denise Torrey said about 15 primary schools were "quite significantly damaged".

Those schools were discussing solutions such as site sharing, combining schools and running schools in shifts with ministry project teams.

"Splitting schools and sending pupils to other schools is really not ideal for most schools as they want to keep their community together, especially after what they've been through," Torrey said.

Education Minister Anne Tolley said 19 Christchurch schools had contacted the ministry about reopening.

"We are doing everything we can to make sure Christchurch schools are up and running as quickly as we can," she said. Some had told the ministry they could reopen immediately, while others were working towards opening next week.

Schools and preschools needed to fulfil staffing, health and safety and access issues criteria, and liaise with the Education Ministry before reopening. Those within the cordon, however, had to remain closed.

In total, 2252 Christchurch pupils had been enrolled at schools around the country. Timaru schools had enrolled 237 quake refugees, followed by Dunedin (168), Ashburton (147) and Auckland (142).


Brother and sister Alistair and Charlotte Hayes are both uncertain about where they will spend the rest of the schooling year.

Alistair, 15, is a year 12 pupil at Shirley Boys' High School and Charlotte, 17, a year 13 pupil at Avonside Girls' High School. Neither was at school on the day of the quake as both schools had the afternoon off for a PTA meeting.

Alistair said he and a friend checked out the damage to Shirley Boys' last Wednesday. They found water through much of the school from burst water mains and liquefaction on the sports fields and courts.

Charlotte said she had not been allowed back in to her school grounds and there had been little communication about what would happen to the school.

Charlotte, who wants to study medical physics next year, said many of her friends were disappointed about disruption to their high school ball, which was to have been held at the end of the term at the Hotel Grand Chancellor.

Both siblings said they would rather not have to leave their school or their classmates.

"I'd like to stay with the groups in my school. I don't really want to move," Alistair said.

Charlotte said: "Year 13 is so hard, having these weeks off is just going to make it that much harder."


Christchurch's badly damaged schools:

State: Avonside Girls' High, Banks Avenue, Burwood, Chisnallwood Intermediate, Christchurch Girls' High, Ferndale, Freeville, Heathcote Valley, Heaton Normal Intermediate, Manning Intermediate, Mt Pleasant, North New Brighton, Phillipstown, Shirley Boys' High, Shirley Intermediate, Shirley and St Martins.

State-integrated: St James (Aranui), St Peter's (Beckenham), St Mary's (Christchurch), St Paul's (city), Our Lady of the Assumption (Hoon Hay), Our Lady of Victories (Sockburn), St Albans Catholic, Catholic Cathedral College and Marian College.

Independent: Christ's College, Cathedral Grammar and St Andrew's College.

Source: Ministry of Education


Rangi Ruru Girls' School's historic administration block, Te Koraha, will not be used for some time, although management believe it can be fixed. The school hopes to reopen on Monday.

Christchurch Girls' High School might not open before March 14.

Deputy principal Peter Sawyer said the school's blocks ranged from tentatively red-stickered to green-stickered. The school was working to reconnect the sewerage system and the water supply.

"We are awaiting an engineer's report," Sawyer said. "We would consider any help that would enable us to get up and running as soon as possible."

Christ's College headmaster Simon Leese said he had told parents the college would not reopen before March 14, "and we expect that to be optimistic".

"We are talking to people who may share our campus."

Leese said on the college website yesterday that he had discussions with "another significant organisation which may be based with us". An announcement would be made soon.

The website says the future of its Cranmer Centre is in doubt and there is significant damage to Harper and Julius houses and two parts of the facade of School House. Other buildings have been cleared.

St Andrew's College rector Christine Leighton said engineers had cleared most of the buildings and the school hoped to be open on Monday if water and sewerage services had been restored.

She said two administration buildings, Strowan House and the Chapel, would not be used for some time, but classroom spaces had been declared safe.

The Press