Parents, pupils plead to keep Ouruhia open

TINA LAW
Last updated 05:00 08/11/2012
Hekia Parata
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

FACE TO FACE: Education Minister Hekia Parata listens to Ouruhia School pupils sing during a visit to the school.

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Schools Shake-up

Name Ouruhia Model School
Suburb Belfast/Northwood
Decile 8
Type Primary
Roll 115
Cost $600,000
Principal Mark Ashmore-Smith
Proposal Close

Education Minister Hekia Parata has an addition to her wardrobe, courtesy of Ouruhia School.

During a meeting at the north Christchurch school yesterday, Parent Action Group member Sonya Boyd gave Parata a present containing a "Save Our School" T-shirt signed by all 115 pupils.

"We want to give you something so you remember us and remember our children. I don't think you probably get many presents," Boyd told Parata.

Parata proposes to close Ouruhia School and was at the school as part of a two-week consultation programme during which she is visiting 35 of the 39 schools slated to close or merge.

Ouruhia did everything it could to convince Parata to keep the school on the outskirts of Christchurch open.

Pupils wearing "Save Our School" T-shirts sang a song and parents provided alternative proposals and made heartfelt pleas not to close the school.

Parent Matt Cox gave Parata detailed information about the expected population growth in the area and suggested the schools' zone be expanded to allow it to grow.

Heath Ingle, who has four children at the school, asked Parata not to close the school. "I think this is an awesome school. It would be a crying shame for the Government to close it."

Parent Emma Goodin said she would like the school to be rejuvenated rather than closed and wanted to know why Ouruhia School specifically was proposed for closure.

Parata said the proposals were made taking into account a wide range of information in the context of the wider education network in Greater Christchurch.

"There is no one thing or the other. It's a collection of issues," she said.

Parata said the proposals were about wanting something better for pupils.

Goodin told Parata: "When you close a school you make it impossible to make that school better. If you leave us open, that leaves us open to improve the school and we can make things better here."

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