Zone woes hit hard at Redcliffs School

TINA LAW
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2013
Rachel Ono
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

CLASS ACTION: Redcliffs School teacher Rachel Ono prepares her classroom for another year at the Van Asch Deaf Education Centre in Sumner.

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Redcliffs School, the only school in New Zealand sited outside its own enrolment zone, faces another year in limbo.

The school was forced from its Main Rd site when two earthquakes hit on June 13, 2011. Staff and students have been unable to return while the danger posed by the cliff above it was assessed.

In the two months after the quakes, the school made three moves before settling at the Van Asch Deaf Education Centre in Sumner.

Principal Kim Alexander said that while the school was starting the year at Van Asch, she was not sure whether it would be there for the entire year.

Being in limbo was hard for staff and students, she said.

"You just get on with it. It's a nice site and the kids love being here. We've had almost no staff turnover, and that says something, I think."

However, the school's roll had taken a hammering since the quakes, with a drop of about 40 per cent, and Alexander said the school's new temporary location was partly to blame.

The school was the only one in New Zealand that was operating outside its enrolment zone, and no school could exist in the long term being in that situation, she said.

The Redcliffs School zone had remained unchanged since the quakes, so if a child lived close to the Van Asch site they could not go to Redcliffs School; they had to attend Sumner School.

Alexander said nothing could be done because the school did not want to start competing for students or taking them away from Sumner School.

The school's preference was to go back to its Main Rd site once the necessary safety precautions were put in place.

Education Ministry policy manager Jerome Sheppard said GNS Science was assessing the risk of further significant rockfalls on the school site.

The work was expected to be completed in the first half of this year, he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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