Super-school could work, says principal

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 23/05/2013

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A low-decile super-school in east Christchurch can work but only if the new school leadership buys into the idea, a South Auckland school principal says.

Robin Staples is principal at Southern Cross Campus, a year 1-13 school in Mangere East, Manukau City.

Much like what Education Minister Hekia Parata has planned for Aranui, Southern Cross Campus is the result of a schooling restructure in South Auckland about 10 years ago.

A decile 1 school, it has a roll of 1500 with 90 per cent of its pupils of Maori or Pacific Island descent.

Staples said he was an "enthusiast" for the large all-ages school concept, as it served the whole community. His school was split into a junior campus for years 1-6 and a college for years 7-13. It also had pre-schools on site.

While the school itself was nothing "flash", his leadership team and board of trustees made sure it was not treated like poor cousins by promoting its successes.

"If Christchurch makes it work, it can work. With good leadership, and the use of initiative in a positive way, it could be absolutely fantastic," he said.

"If it's a slinging match over patch protection, [it won't]."

Linwood Avenue School principal Gerard Direen agreed there was "lots of potential" for success but the Aranui merger was a case of the Government doing it "to" the community, rather than with it.

"They're on a cloud somewhere trying to work around [a] rationale and set of beliefs quite different to what we experience every day as schools in the aftermath of the earthquakes," he said.

PROS

Cost-effective Modern school Shared resources and facilities for students and community, including a library and pool.

CONS

More upheaval in community still vulnerable after quakes Job losses for teachers and support staff Social risk of putting all ages together.

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