NEW HOSPITAL SCHOOL FOR WELLINGTON

  • Nick Smith
Health

Education Minister Nick Smith today announced the establishment of a new school in Wellington to provide an education for children with long-term illnesses throughout the lower North Island as part of the Government's Special Education 2000 strategy.

"Sick and hospitalised children deserve an ongoing education. Learning is a normal part of a child's life and it should not be put on hold just because they are unwell. We cannot afford to let their learning slip behind while they are unable to be in their normal classroom. This exciting initiative is about giving sick children a better deal."

The new school in Wellington will be open for term one next year. Nationally, set-up funding has been provided for next year of $2.5 million, with an ongoing annual budget of about $3.4 million. In addition, an establishment grant is available for each board to assist with set-up costs. The Minister today formally appointed the new board whose first task will be to appoint a Principal and identify a suitable location for the new school.

"The old system of providing schooling for hospitalised children was quite restrictive and did not meet the needs of those children when they returned home to recuperate. It is now much more common for children to spend long periods of time recovering at home rather than being stuck in a hospital. The new school will include students who are convalescing, rehabilitating and recuperating from illness, as well as those receiving treatment at home over a significant period of time."

The $6 million nationwide initiative is part of a plan which includes merging the two hospital schools in Auckland and establishing new schools in Wellington and Christchurch.

"This is not just good news for Wellington, but for children throughout the lower North Island. The new school will not just be a site, but a network of services involving teachers based in communities like Hastings, Wanganui and Palmerston North. The Board has an exciting challenge to meet the needs of a very diverse and geographically spread range of pupils. I am confident this new model will give our sick children a better education."