Schools role to educate

Education Minister Hekia Parata will this morning be announcing the interim decisions for 31 Christchurch schools marked for closure or merger.

The NZEI has called off its planned strike, which is encouraging but there will be jobs lost and communities changed which will be difficult for those affected.

However, let’s not forget that there are more than 200 schools educating around 78,000 children in Christchurch and more than 4,000 children have left the city.

The Minister said in a Facebook post that the proposed changes will affect 31 schools and around 5,500 pupils which is 7.6 of the entire school population in the region. More than 80 per cent, or 177 of the 215 schools in greater Christchurch, are not affected.

Those figures won’t make it any easier for staff who will lose jobs and children who will have to go to a different school.

But the status quo isn’t a good option. It’s better to have fewer, newer schools where most children are than keep open old schools with extensive earthquake damage and sharp drops in roll numbers.

There will be sad stories from teachers and support staff who will face redundancy; from children in schools that will close; and from their families.

But let’s remember the role of schools is to educate children.

In doing so it provides jobs and a focus for a community and the loss of those is unfortunate.

But the prime consideration is the best educational outcomes for the children and the best use of the public money required to do that.

Apropos of that – there are good news stories about education in Christchurch, such as this one about Clearview – a new school with a growing roll, enthusiastic principal and happy pupils.

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