Hagley could help stave off closures

CHARLEY MANN
Last updated 05:00 19/11/2012

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Hagley Community College could be a saviour for schools considering longer shifts to stave off closing or merging.

The college has hard-to-come-by Adult and Community Education (Ace) funding and is open to running evening courses at other schools.

The Education Ministry announced proposals in September to close 13 Christchurch schools and put 26 through some form of merger. Schools have until December 7 to respond to the proposals.

An amendment to the Education Act that would allow schools to run multiple timetables is before Parliament.

Central New Brighton School and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Te Whanau Tahi have both suggested increased school hours to the ministry, in a bid to stave off proposed mergers and to remain at their current sites.

Both want to open school facilities to the wider community, particularly offering adult classes.

Hagley Community College had been running a flexible timetable for 13 years and had built a huge infrastructure to meet the demands of more than 1400 students enrolled in day and night courses, acting principal Ros Jackson said.

It has government funding for Ace and is open to running evening courses at city schools.

"If [those schools] approached us and wanted community education programmes run for over 16s, we could fund them to run it on site," Jackson said. "We do adult literacy classes at Rowley Ave, Shirley and Aranui schools."

Ace funding has been progressively scaled back over the years, as the Government expects larger providers like universities to focus on degree-level qualifications and above.

"You could not just get it for, say, running a tapestry class," Jackson said. "It is only for courses with embedded numeracy and literacy."

Those courses could be a pathway into a career for people with few or no qualifications.

Central New Brighton principal Toni Burnside said the school hoped amendments to the act would help it convince the ministry to let it stay open at the current site. It was suggesting 9am till 3pm classes for pupils, and then staying open into the evening as a hub of community activity, offering adult education, parenting classes, sports and cultural sessions.

Te Whanau Tahi plans to establish an early-childhood education centre, an after-school homework centre and evening courses, as well as housing a social services and learning support centre.

FLEXIBLE TIMETABLES COME AT A COST

How well could it work at primary schools?

Flexible timetables come at a huge hidden cost, Hagley Community College says. An amendment to the Education Act is before Parliament that would allow schools to operate multiple timetables, either starting at the same time or one after the other.

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Two Christchurch schools (Central New Brighton School and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Te Whanau Tahi) have mooted increased school hours to the Education Ministry, in a bid to stave off proposed mergers and remain at their current sites.

Hagley acting principal Ros Jackson said long opening hours worked well at the college because it had "evolved" the right systems.

An information and communication department takes care of all computer issues and helps students with IT-based problems.

Homework co-ordinators work after hours to ensure pupils old and young are up to speed, while an enrolment co-ordinator takes care of frequent queries and administration. The college employs two groundskeepers to work day and night.

Meanwhile, security is heightened at night, with panic buttons through the premises.

"It is a big, hidden financial cost," Jackson said.

Staff are also required to be more flexible. although this often works in their favour. Staff work "glide time", where they are able to split work between morning and night, as long as they complete the required hours over the week.

- The Press

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