Teachers rally against closures

Last updated 07:45 19/02/2013

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It is too soon to say how many teachers will lose their jobs due to proposed school closures and mergers in Christchurch, Education Minister Hekia Parata says.

Teachers will lead a rally against the closures in Christchurch this afternoon at Canterbury Arena.

Under the plans announced yesterday, seven schools will close and 12 will merge. A further five schools will be opened.

The number of schools on the block for closure or merger was reduced following consultation after the initial plans were unveiled last year. More consultation will now take place with a final decision due in May.

Parata said it was not possible to say how many jobs would go until the final decisions were made.

''Because of course parents still have to make the choice of where they're going to send their kids and we have the same number of children and that's how the entitlement for teachers is determined.''

That meant ''about'' the same number of teachers would be required in Christchurch.

''That will be determined by whether parents choose to send their children to the merged school or to another option.

''Letters have been sent home with children so parents knew what their choices were if the plans became final.

"I can say that this is a very small proportion in the overall context of over 3500 teaching positions across the education network in Christchurch,'' she told Radio New Zealand.

She said she would listen to the message from today's rally.

New Zealand Educational Institute national president Judith Nowotarski said teachers had called off a planned strike for today after the Ministry of Education promised to work with the union to ensure school staff and communities were genuinely consulted on future decisions.

"The ministry has agreed to discuss ways to ensure that from now on teachers and school communities are at the heart of genuine engagement and changes to education in Christchurch."

Staff wanted to call off the strike so they could remain at school to support students during a difficult time, she said.

"Tuesday's rally will show just how concerned teachers and the community are about education."

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