THE Government has been slammed for the shambolic release of information related to an education shake-up in Christchurch, which proposed the closure of 13 schools and merging 18 others.
Panic was caused among parents and teachers when a national news organisation broke an embargo to claim Shirley Boys’ was to merge with Chirstchurh Boys’ High and Avonside Girls’ would link up with Christchurch Girls’ High.
What the announcement failed to say was that megers were only one of a number of proposals under consideration.
The Government was forced to backtrack.
It released another statement clarifying and apologising “if any information made available today was unclear regarding Christchurch high schools.”
It came a day after Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee had to apologise for calling some quake-hit homeowners “carpers and moaners”.
John Laurenson, head of Shirley Boys’ High, said he was bewildered at the way the announcement was handled and said Mr Brownlee had “offended a lot of people this week”.
He had spent the day reassuring teachers, staff and parents over the future of the damaged school.
“It’s been a long day, and it’ll be an even longer night,” he told APNZ.
“We’ve got 300 Year 8s enrolled for 2013 and we’ve already taken at least a dozen phone calls from parents asking why they are bothering if we’re going to close.
“For ever 25 students we lose, we lose a teacher, so thanks very much (education) ministry.”
Parent Diane Cooke picked up her son from school in a state of shock, believing his school was set to close.
“He loves it here and is doing very well – he doesn’t need any upheavals. To move him now would be heartbreaking.
“I’m very annoyed over how this has been handled. The principals and parents should be told before anybody else. I shouldn’t have to find out online.
“It’s another blow for Christchurch.”
Son Brayden, 15, later told his mum the school had said it wouldn’t be closing.
Christchurch Boys High headmaster Trevor McIntyre said the “unnecessary confusion” was a result of the education ministry failing to clarify all the options.
“They are only proposals and a merger would be the least likely one,” he stressed.
He called an emergency staff meeting and ordered a statement to be given to parents and old boys.
Despite that, 13 schools still face the threat of closure.
They are: Glenmoor primary, Hammersley Park primary, Richmond, Burnham, Burnside primary, Greenpark, Kendal School, Le Bons Bay, Manning Intermediate, Duvachelle, Okains Bay, Linwood Intermediate, and Branston Intermediate.
Shelley Bridger, a carer for two young children at Richmond School was saddened by the news.
“The kids love the school. It’s very small and it allows them to develop good relationships with their teachers. When they go to intermediate they tend to do very well.
“They’ll find it difficult being absorbed into a bigger school.”