Rotary Park School to close

Rotary Park School entrance in McKerrow St, Highcliff. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Rotary Park School entrance in McKerrow St, Highcliff. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
A decision by Minister of Education Hekia Parata to close Dunedin's Rotary Park School at the end of this year was relayed to school officials yesterday, catching them by surprise.

Although no official announcement has been made by the Ministry of Education, a letter was sent from Ms Parata to Dunedin Labour MP Clare Curran late last week, informing her of the closure.

"After considering all the information provided to me, I have decided that Rotary Park School will close," Ms Parata said in the letter.

"The closure will be gazetted shortly to take effect on January 27, 2013."

The school was unaware of the decision until yesterday, despite Ms Curran being told last week.

Commissioner Cleave Hay said because of postal delays, he did not receive his copy of the letter until 1pm yesterday. The school had to hastily prepare a newsletter to send home to parents yesterday, he said.

The news came as a surprise to acting principal Jan Stevens yesterday when the Otago Daily Times contacted the school.

A spokeswoman for Ms Parata, when asked yesterday why the school had not been informed first, said the minister was unavailable for comment.

Ms Curran contacted the ODT yesterday about the closure.

The school's woes began last year when principal Carmel Casey became the focus of allegations of incompetent teaching practices. The situation came to a head when parents began removing their children as a show of defiance over her return to the school after six months' leave.

Ms Parata ordered a school community consultation process after Mr Hay recommended the school be considered for closure after its roll dropped from more than 60 to just 21. Only 10 pupils had been expected to return next year.

Ms Curran said it was disappointing a school of its calibre was to be closed, because the minister and the ministry had allowed an internal dispute to destroy its reputation.


Highly achieving students, enthusiastic and happy

Today on the news the 2011 ERO Rotary Park report was quoted about the relationships between adults at the school.

The radio report, and I think all other media, chose to ignore the main educational content of this 2011 ERO report

‘ERO observed high quality teaching with some examples of exceptional teaching practice.'

In mathematics and reading, almost all students (100% and 98%) met or exceeded the National Standards.

· In writing, 89% of students met or exceeded the National Standards.

· Some targeted students have made significant progress throughout the year.

· Some students excel in regional and international competitions.

ERO also stated that another strength was student engagement. Noting that ‘students are highly engaged in, and enthusiastic about, their learning'

ERO also observed very positive relationships among students and between teachers and students.

· Students spoke highly of their teachers and learning.

· Teachers communicate effectively with parents about the educational needs of their children.

So Rotary Park is a school where the children are achieving highly, and where the children are highly engaged, enthusiastic and happy with their teachers.

Seems very strange to be closing such a school.

Kia kaha to the exceptional teachers.



Little inflammatory, there...

As one of the parents that changed schools, I take a small amount of offence that I did so "as a show of defiance over her return" - I moved my child because it was best for my child to have a stable environment where he'd have the same teacher all day, all week and all term.

It was not a "show of defiance" directed at Ms Casey nor any of the staff, it was a practical decision in order to provide my child with the best opportunity for learning available.

I cannot speak for other parents, of course, but neither does this article speak for me.

Rotary Park School

I am amazed that Ms Curran feels she can comment on the situation, when she has never actually visited the school. 

The Ministry and Ms Curran do not actually care about the real people whose lives are being affected here.

To find out about the school's closure from the ODT, shows how much the teachers are valued by our Ministry and their Commisioner.

Kia Kaha wonderful teachers!

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