Consultation to resume with Phillipstown School

  • Hekia Parata

Education Minister Hekia Parata says the Government will not appeal the High Court’s ruling on the judicial review sought by Phillipstown School and will instead resume consultation on its proposed merger with Woolston School as set out in the judgement.

It has been proposed the two schools merge as part of the Government’s Education Renewal Plans in greater Christchurch.

“The Government is absolutely committed to rebuilding Christchurch – that’s why we are investing $1 billion into restoring and renewing the education system in Canterbury over the next 10 years,” says Ms Parata.

“Our focus is, and always has been, on the children of greater Christchurch and providing them with the best education possible in modern, fit-for-purpose facilities.”

Ms Parata says the High Court ruling does not require her to start the whole process again, and acknowledges the Crown went to considerable efforts to consult and consultation was in good faith.

“The Judge ruled there had been an inadvertent error in the way information about estimated property costs was provided to Phillipstown school. The Judge said this error could be corrected by continuing to consult on those aspects of the proposals.

“Therefore, today I have advised both schools that I am proposing to continue consultation.”

In order to provide schools with the most up-to-date property cost information possible, consultation will not start until the final Business Case for the Government’s Education Renewal Plans in greater Christchurch has been considered by Cabinet in the next few weeks. An interim business case was released in November last year.

“When the Business Case has been considered, I will write to the schools to initiate the continued consultation process and to confirm the specific dates for the start and finish of the consultation period taking into account the school holidays.  

“I have advised the two schools of this process and am seeking their feedback on that process by 8 November 2013.’’

To support the two schools during the consultation process, Ms Parata says:

  • a senior Ministry of Education official will be available to assist them,
  • a senior property manager will take the Boards of Trustees of the two schools through the property information,
  • the offer of a facilitator, funded by the Ministry of Education at a maximum cost of $2,500, will be available to help schools consult with parents and their communities as previously offered during the earlier rounds of consultation.

“I am mindful this process has been difficult on the school community and the families in greater Christchurch have already been through a lot.

“I have sent letters to parents via the two schools to update them on the current situation.

“The Ministry of Education has also reactivated the 0800 746 338 number so parents can call if they have any questions,” Ms Parata says.