Alternative site sought for Redcliffs School

  • Hekia Parata

Education Minister Hekia Parata has set aside her interim decision to close Redcliffs School and discussion has been initiated on relocating the school to an alternative site in Redcliffs.

Ms Parata says at the same time as that discussion is taking place further specialist advice will be sought about the possibility of negative psychosocial effects for children attending school on the original Main Road site.

“The school’s board has made the case that moving the school forward and sacrificing about 40 per cent of the Main Road site will address the risk of disrupted education on the Redcliffs site being caused by rocks falling from the cliffs behind the school.

“Based on expert engineering advice, I am advised that the concerns leading to my interim decision have been addressed, and have therefore decided not to confirm my interim decision that the school should close,” Ms Parata says.

“However, before a decision is made about whether the school can go back to Main Road, we will explore the possible psychosocial effects of returning the school to its previous site and the possibility of relocating to an alternative site.

“The Board raised the possibility of negative psychosocial impacts if the school was closed. The Ministry sought advice on this from an independent specialist. It also asked whether there could be negative psychosocial effects for children if the school returns to Main Road, where there will be ongoing rockfalls and land mass movement behind the site and significant mitigation measures have been proposed on the school boundary. The specialist concluded that there could be a psychosocial risk to children attending the school on that site.

“My main concern is for the well-being of the children, so the decision about whether the school can return to the site will be deferred until the Ministry has carried out a thorough investigation of this risk. It will work with the Board and psychosocial specialists on this, and will report back to me by the end of September.

“If relocation is possible that would address the complexities of the Main Road site while providing a school in the Redcliffs community. The Ministry will investigate Barnett Park and will look again at other possible sites.

Ms Parata says while this next phase is not a formal consultation process, the views of the board, parents and the wider community will be important.

She says the Ministry will also work closely with the Christchurch City Council over the next two months because it has a strong interest in the Redcliffs community.

A decision on whether the school can return to its site, or whether relocation is feasible, is expected by mid-October. In the meantime Redcliffs students will continue to share the site of the Van Asch Deaf Education Centre in Sumner as they have done since 2011.