School shake-up patronising - Buck

RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 14:25 18/09/2012
Former Christchurch mayor Vicki Buck.
PATRONISING: Former Christchurch mayor Vicki Buck says teachers, principals and boards of trustees are upset at the lack of consultation.

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The Government's handling of the Christchurch school shake-up is ''patronising'', says a former mayor.

Vicki Buck, who founded Christchurch schools Discovery 1 and Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti, said teachers, principals and boards of trustees were upset at the lack of consultation.

They were struggling to understand the rationale behind the proposals to close, merge or relocate their schools, she said.

Education Minister Hekia Parata told principals last week that she wanted to close 13 schools, merge 18 into nine, relocate seven schools and close another five and make them part of a single campus in Aranui for year 1 to 13 pupils.

Schools have also been put into three categories - restore, consolidate and rejuvenate.

Buck accepted the merging of Discovery 1 and Unlimited made sense, but criticised the Government's lack of communication with them before the decision.

''I totally feel for every other school in Christchurch. The process by which it was announced was just appalling.''

She said that if anyone from Christchurch had been involved in the decision-making they would not have ''even contemplated'' some of the decisions; for example, merging Avondale, Aranui and Wainoni primary schools with Chisnallwood Intermediate and Aranui High School.

She said that if the Government had been ''honest'' and asked schools for input into the future of education in Canterbury, a solution would have been found.

''There was no opportunity for real innovation to be trialled or worked through. It's just closure or amalgamations.''

Telling schools what was happening, rather than discussing it with them first, was patronising, she said.

''It's a very personal emotional shockwave ... it's gut-wrenching.''

Buck was unsure what last week's announcement meant for the location of the merged Discovery 1 and Unlimited school.

Discovery 1, which has close to 180 pupils, was in the City Mall and is now operating from a site behind Halswell Residential College, where former central-city Unlimited is also temporarily based.

However, Halswell Residential College was due to expand next year, she said, which raised questions as to where the newly merged schools would be.

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