Labour Party List MP Steve Chadwick says Education Minister Anne Tolley has steamrolled the Kawerau community and ignored its pleas not to close the only intermediate school there.
Mrs Tolley has announced a new Year 7 to Year 14 school which will replace Kawerau Intermediate and Kawerau College.
National says it would invest $6 million in the new school. But Ms Chadwick says Mrs Tolley deliberately ignored the community wishes not to merge the schools.
Tolley certainly ignored the community, but, in my opinion, the Minister reached the correct decision. The current model, meaning three tiers of schooling (primary, intermediate and high school), is unsustainable. Reform is, without doubt, necessary and welcome.
In 2013 the College will reopen as a junior/senior high school. On the same campus I believe, but with separate facilities. I think the junior/senior high model is largely untested in New Zealand and an American import. This isn’t to say the model won’t be successful. With the right governance and management the school should, in theory of course, be successful. Good governance and management is what Kawerau College has lacked over the past decade. However, I do worry that the Minister is using Kawerau as a test town for the junior/senior high model. I don’t know what is behind Tolley’s enthusiasm for the model; I guess there must be some sort of cost efficiencies in running high school education in that way.
I’m giving my cautious support to the redevelopment.
Lastly, I wish the Kawerau Intermediate die hards would give it a rest and get on with ensuring the best outcomes for children. You lost. You can't do anything more. Accept it and move on.