Schools struggle to focus on learning

TINA LAW
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2013

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Several Christchurch primary schools will start this year under a cloud of uncertainty.

On February 18, Education Minister Hekia Parata will inform schools of her decision to close, merge or keep them open under an alternative plan.

Last September, Parata proposed to close or merge 39 schools. Two of the schools, Le Bons Bay and Hammersley Park, have already voluntarily closed.

Canterbury Primary Principals' Association president John Bangma said schools were concerned about what lay ahead.

The association had someone working solely to provide support to schools, and it would help principals through the merger and closure process, he said.

Phillipstown School principal Tony Simpson said it was difficult to focus on learning and teaching, given the uncertainty.

"As a principal, my role has changed so much since September," he said.

Phillipstown School is slated to merge with Woolston School at the Linwood College site. Linwood College would be moved to its lower fields in Ferry Rd.

Simpson said teachers required a lot of support this year because their jobs were under threat.

Linwood Avenue School principal Gerard Direen said that while he was focused on the day-to-day running of the school, he was also consumed with the uncertainty surrounding its future.

Linwood Avenue School is proposed to merge at Bromley School.

"I have all those normal fears and doubts," Direen said.

Linwood Intermediate School principal Lee Walker said he hoped the ministry had learnt from its mistakes last year and when announcements were made next month they would be followed with a coherent plan.

Linwood Intermediate is slated to close.

Kendal School principal Keith Turner said that whatever the decision, he was going to make sure pupils got the best education possible.

"We'll leave the question on everybody's mind, ‘Why are they closing such a great school?' That's all we can do," he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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