As some of you may know, the schools in Stokes valley were last year subject to a ministerial review. The extraordinary recommendations were
- Tui Glen and Tawhai Schools to combine on the Tawhai site, with Tawhai as the continuing school
- Stokes Valley and Kamahi Schools to combine on the Stokes Valley site, with Stokes Valley as the continuing school
However, soon after this, the Labour Party found that they had made some poor decisions in other policy areas and declared a moratorium on school reviews elsewhere, though insisting that the ones being processed would continue. The odd business of reviewing Stokes Valley with Upper Hutt, rather than Lower Hutt, where most of the Valley students go to college, makes no educational sense and can only be explained by the fact that the Minister of Education's electorate is in Lower Hutt. Mediation was called for, and the mediator's report, adopted by the Minister, says the following:
- Tui Glen to remain open as a full primary school
- Tawhai to remain open as a contributing school
- Stokes Valley and Kamahi Schools to combine on the Kamahi site, with Stokes Valley as the continuing school
which makes even less sense than what we had before, unless the reason is that there has been serious lobbying going on. A meeting was called for Thursday night, and the following points raised with the local MP, Paul Swain, and with the mayor and deputy mayor:
- Stokes Valley School has access from three directions and a long road frontage, not on a main road, giving better access day to day and in the event of a civil emergency: Kamahi has access on one road only, along a narrow passageway.
- Access to Kamahi for special needs students is almost impossible under current arrangements.
- Facilities for special needs students and in other key areas is better at SV School (though not to a major extent).
- There was no reason given as to why Kamahi School should be the favoured site except for an acknowledged false perception that the decile rating of the combined school would be higher on the Kamahi site. Of course, a combined school would have the same decile rating regardless of site, as it would contain the same students.
Paul Swain, MP, stated that Trevor Mallard, inister of Education, had made up his mind and was determined not to change it. I hope that this stubbornness is not in the face of evidence, as it would not be good for a Minister of the Crown to refuse to listen to reason and justify his point of view with "because I say so!" I hope that he will listen to reason. We are asking for an independent review of the two sites. It is impossible to argue with the mediator and the Minister's reasons, because they did not provide any justification. Watch this space.
Saturday was a quiet day, as was Sunday. After the service, David went off to watch an archery club in action, while Viv stayed at church helping organise next week's session and the remainder of us went off to the new Burger King shop in Lower Hutt to test their wares. The usual supermarket shopping and general housekeeping followed this.
The end of the week and the weekend has been further confounded by the arrival of bull terrier puppies next door. Unfortunately, their mother is rather distressed and has already killed two of the puppies. This does not make for a happy environment.
Back to work today, where I heard that I missed the fact that the front page had an ill-informed article about SV School on Saturday. Letters in today's paper, no further details yet.