We welcome the decision to let the school continue to care and educate its girls in a safe and supportive environment but the staff, parents and kids should not have gone through a year of hell to get to this point.”
The Green Party welcomes Education Minister Hekia Parata’s U-turn on closing Salisbury School but deplores the unnecessary fear and stress this mangled process has put families through, Green Party associate education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said.
Salisbury, a residential school for girls, will remain open after Hekia Parata backtracked on her plan to close the school and merge it with Halswell Residential School in Christchurch. Halswell will now remain a boys’ school.
“Parents and students at Salisbury School have been put through an emotional ringer by Hekia Parata’s initial decision and mangled handling of the proposal to close this school,” Ms Delahunty said.
“We welcome the decision to let the school continue to care and educate its girls in a safe and supportive environment but the staff, parents and kids should not have gone through a year of hell to get to this point.
“The Education Minister ignored advice warning of risks to Salisbury students and the High Court ruled her actions unlawful yet she barrelled on with his plan.
“Today’s change of heart is welcome but is possibly more about damage control than a commitment to the well-being and safety of young women with learning disabilities.
“The National Government’s track record on support for disabled young people and their families appears to be based largely on expediency but at least Salisbury School will benefit from this U-turn.
“The school now needs to be assured that enrolments will be able to resume as normal and parents who want to send their girls to the school will be able to.
“The Green Party understands a small number of girls will be able to be taught at Halswell despite the decision for it not to become co-ed.
“The same safety concerns raised about the merger remain and the Minister needs to explain the logic around allowing this.
“Safety and education of these vulnerable children must be an absolute priority. It hasn’t been for this Minister until now,” Ms Delahunty said.