Canterbury teachers confirm strike

CHARLEY MANN
Last updated 11:22 24/01/2013
Ian Leckie
COLIN SMITH/Fairfax NZ
New Zealand Educational Institute national president Ian Leckie.

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Christchurch teachers will strike next month in opposition to school closures, mergers and amendments to the Education Act.

The strike, on Tuesday, February 19, will come the day after Education Minister Hekia Parata announces which schools will close and merge under the major network overhaul that proposes to close 11 schools and put 26 through some form of merger.

Educators are also concerned about amendments to the Education Act that will legalise charter schools and double-bunking but will outlaw searching pupils for drugs and weapons.

New Zealand Educational Institute president Ian Leckie said strike action was backed by an ''overwhelming'' majority of teachers at a meeting before Christmas.

''It has been many years since primary teachers have been out on strike, and this is certainly not about any personal gain,'' he said.

''Teachers, with the support of their school communities, have now reached the point where they believe that there is no other alternative to strike action.

''Neither the minister of education nor the ministry has been able to explain why Christchurch kids are being the guinea pigs for a radical reform of education that goes way beyond restoring earthquake-affected schools.

''Why is Christchurch being earmarked for mega-sized schools, double-bunking and charter schools?''

Controversial charter schools have worried educators because they will be able to employ unqualified and unregistered teachers and will not be subject to public scrutiny through yearly audits or the Official Information Act.

Double-bunking, which was introduced in Christchurch as a response to the February 2011 quake where pupils from two schools shared one site in shifts, is unpopular because of unsocial school hours and fear that schools will not be able to run extracurricular activities.

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