Education overhaul figures queried

CHARLEY MANN
Last updated 07:50 20/10/2012

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Christchurch principals have again questioned the figures used to support the Government's controversial education overhaul.

The Education Ministry this week met 13 Christchurch schools slated to close and 25 facing some form of merger to discuss the data.

The information is contained in a document called Rationale for Change, which was released two weeks into a consultation period after principals lodged requests for the rationale under the Official Information Act.

The consultation period will end on December 7. Ouruhia School principal Mark Ashmore- Smith said the ministry appeared to be basing its proposal to close the school on spurious population movements and a prediction 16 pupils would leave the earthquake- damaged Brooklands area next year. "Some of these children are still going to come to Ouruhia School," he said.

The ministry quoted the Greater Household Scenarios 2011-2041 document, saying 1000 houses would be built west of the Belfast cluster (Belfast School and Ouruhia School), too far from their catchment zones.

One Ouruhia parent said that was incorrect and the document "provides no indication or reference to 1000 additional households all in the west of the Belfast cluster catchment".

"The source data makes reference to 1590 households in the northern greenfield area, but that is all," the parent said.

The ministry's document said: "We need to accept in areas that have been depopulated we will have to do things differently, which will inevitably mean some change to services.

"The viability of existing individual schools and increased demand for new schools are a key consideration going forward."

Linwood Intermediate principal Lee Walker said the ministry's quote to fix quake damage at the school was four times the cost the school had been quoted.

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