Families, Older People Leaving Christchurch, Teachers Stressed

Christchurch is suffering from a net outflow of children

Coming to Christchurch to teach, or put your children through school?

You may want to think again after official data published today showed there has been a net outflow of families and older workers from the quake stricken city,

“There was a net outflow of children and their parents from Christchurch after the earthquake, and fewer young adults arrived for study.”

Over the two year period, the number of children between the ages of zero to 19 decreased by 9300, while the number of people between 35 and 49 decreased by 5700..”source

This is perhaps why 38 schools are either being closed or consolidated, prompting what has been spun as a “shake up” (poor choice of words) of education in the Canterbury region last month,

PM defends Christchurch school closures.

Controversial plans to shake up Canterbury’s education system will change before they are finalised, Prime Minister John Key says.

In his first remarks since the planned school closures were announced, Key said changing demographics, costly repair bills and ministry research were behind sweeping proposals to close 13 schools and put 25 through some form of merger… more here.

The proposed changes have angered many, as has the overall lack of a consultative approach in the rebuilding of Christchurch. Principal John Bangma was shocked at how he was told of the forthcoming changes,

” A Christchurch principal is appalled at how he and his colleagues were told their schools could close.

Principals are also upset they still have no idea about the rationale behind the proposals to close, merge and relocate their schools…”

One news report told how 500 principals were all brought together at a meeting in Lincoln hosted by Education Minister, Hekia Parata, and given coloured name badges to wear. They later found out the badges were colour coded according to the fate of their school.

“Linwood Intermediate School principal Lee Walker said he was appalled at the ministry’s handling of the event.

After hearing Parata speak about a $1 billion investment in education in the region, he was given a pack of information which told him his school was proposed to close.

“There was this stunned silence going around the room. You could feel the anger build in the room.”

There was no information in the pack about what he was supposed to do next and when the proposed closure could happen.

There was a lot of anger from people about how we have been told and treated.”…” more here

Coincidentally, a relative of Parata has lodged a final approval to open a new school in Christchurch but the minister said there was “no conflict of interest“,

 A new Christchurch school, which will be run by a relative of Education Minister Hekia Parata, is waiting on government approval.

The school, Te Pa O Rakaihautu, was endorsed by the ministry just weeks before work began on the overhaul of the city’s education in October last year.

The Press understands the final application is lodged and awaiting approval. Te Pa is chaired by Parata’s second cousin, Rangimarie Parata Takurua, sparking accusations from Labour of a conflict of interest.

It will be a character school, which is similar to a charter school. Both are state-funded and have the power to develop their own way of teaching… more here

And if all that wasn’t enough to stretch Canterbury’s already stressed teaching staff there are problems with their pay too. Read Pay system leaves teacher with just $4,  Stuff, 18 October 2012,

“The $29 million Novopay system was rolled out in August. The Press was contacted by dozens of school staff yesterday complaining about the system.

Among those who expressed concern was a teacher who was paid just $41 for two weeks of fulltime teaching.

”I am stressed, sleep-deprived and feel completely undervalued as a teacher,” she said.

”I certainly don’t feel like the enthusiastic, effective teacher that I want to be four weeks before my students sit their exams.”

Two others said they were waiting on substantial amounts of holiday pay.

Another two said they had not been paid for short-term relief work before the school holidays that began at the beginning of the month…”

Suggested further reading

Charter schools planned for New Zealand.

Charter schools could open in Christchurch in 2014.

Does this feel like the caring, socially inclusive country that you’d like it to be?

We’d like to hear from people in the education sector, or parents affected by these changes. Tell us how they are affecting you and your family. We’d also like to hear from people intending to migrate to Christchurch and would like to give them the opportunity to ask questions about education in the region,