'Terrible sadness' relived

18:51, Feb 18 2013
louise shannahan
Former Watlington principal Louise Shannahan

The former principal of a Timaru intermediate school closed in 2004 was yesterday reliving the "terrible sadness" as it was announced seven Christchurch schools would close.

A further six schools - Branston Intermediate, Glenmoor, Greenpark, Kendal, Linwood Intermediate, Manning Intermediate and Richmond - will be merged in the post-earthquake shake-up announced by Education Minister Hekia Parata.

Louise Shannahan, now principal of Fairlie Primary School, was principal at Watlington Intermediate when it was closed in 2004.

"It brings it back as if it was yesterday, really," she said.

It was one of 13 closures in the region. "You couldn't help but reflect on 2004.

"While I guess the ministry certainly does seem to have listened, I couldn't help but think that the intermediate (school structure) is under threat.


"My question is, intermediates are so fantastically resourced for Year 7 and 8 especially; whilst other schools will endeavour to do their very best they've actually got to spread the funding over the rest of the years.

"It's irreplaceable and they're going to have a difficult time getting organised and going through the process of closing."

Closures created a lot of uncertainty within communities.

However, she acknowledged the post-quake structure of Christchurch schools "did have to change".

"You can fight and do what you can to try and save it, because that's what every school community wants to do . . . (but) in the end this is the way it turned out for them. It's very sad and very emotional for them, all of them.

"There's no book about how to close a school."

She said there was was still merit in the intermediate system.

'There are some great successes out of intermediates, and it's just sad to see."

Schools affected by yesterday's announcement would never forget, she said.

"But they move on because that's what you have to do, and that's easy to say in hindsight.

"People will survive and I've always said it's happened, you didn't agree with it . . . but you do move on and you think that's just the way it had to be."

She put the closure of intermediates down to "cost-cutting". "I'll always feel that the intermediate was a huge loss (to Timaru) but I do know that schools have grown and we have programmes that are the best for the Year 7 and 8s."

The Timaru Herald