Uncertain future for Phillipstown principal

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 15:45 15/08/2014
Phillipstown School protest
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

THE GOOD FIGHT: Parents and teachers, including principal Tony Simpson, centre, have fought hard to keep Phillipstown School from being closed.

Tony Simpson
Joseph Johnson/Fairfax NZ
TEARY EYED: Phillipstown principal Tony Simpson after announcing the merger with Woolston School will go ahead.
Janeane Reid
Dean Kozanic/Fairfax NZ
'EXCITING IDEAS': Woolston School principal Janeane Reid will lead the Phillipstown-Woolston merger school.

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The outspoken critic of school mergers, Tony Simpson will not head the merged Phillipstown-Woolston school.

Simpson, the principal of Phillipstown School, pictured teary-eyed after his school was condemned by Education Minister Hekia Parata, became the face of protests over school closures and mergers,

Last year his school took Parata to court over its planned merger with Woolston, and it found her consultation process failed to meet the requirements of the Education Act.

But after resuming consultation, Parata confirmed in April the merger would go ahead on the Woolston site in January 2015.

Today, it was announced that Woolston School principal Janeane Reid will lead the merger school.

Merger school board of trustees chairwoman Alison Wilkie said Reid had ''considerable experience in leadership'', and her current school - Woolston - was a high performer. ''She has many exciting ideas for the new school. She gets things done.''

Simpson said it was a ''privilege to be principal of Phillipstown School for the last 14 years''.

He did not know what his future held, but he hoped to continue in some kind of educational role. ''I think I have a lot to offer.''

''It has been an incredibly challenging time, working in a strained environment . . . but it's also been an amazing learning experience.''

''I congratulate Janeane and wish her every success, and I will continue to work tirelessly for the best outcome for all children.''

Other permanent staff had the option of being re-employed in the merger school.

His main concern was for the future levels of access to support, and would be ''pitching for the kids of this area''.

While the school had no plans to take further legal action, it would not rule it out if more information in its favour came to light, he said.

Phillipstown School board of trustees chairwoman Alicia Ward said Labour, the Greens and Internet Mana had said they would keep the school open if elected, and she hoped nothing irreversible would take place until after the general election.

Woolston School's current bi-lingual Maori and Samoan units would continue at the new merged school, and both school communities would be involved in the merger process.

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