All go for early learning centre

Gill Hodgson
Gill Hodgson
A desperately needed early childhood education centre is ready to open in Frankton after independent commissioners indicated their approval this week.

The development of KingsView Early Learning Centre, in the same building as KingsView School, on Yewlett Cres, is almost complete after a $300,000 renovation by the Christian School Association of Queenstown, a charitable trust.

Centre manager Gill Hodgson, of Frankton, yesterday said "we're getting back to full steam ahead" after commissioners David Collins and Christine Kelly this week advised the association they intended to grant consent for an early learning centre for up to 30 children and six teachers.

The centre has more than 30 Wakatipu families already on the waiting list to enrol their children.

"Now we have resource consent, we're preparing the application for the Ministry of Education licence for nought- to 5-year-old children to enrol in stages," Mrs Hodgson said.

"The whole idea is we'll be like a family and we'll have a values-based Christian programme like the school; for anybody, not just for Christians. If people choose to go on to KingsView School it will have a lovely flow-on effect."

Mrs Hodgson said she had been trying to open a centre in the Wakatipu for 10 years, but each option had obstacles, such as cost and lease limitations.

"These premises have the benefit of a very long lease, as long as we want, and a very good landlord, who is committed to high-quality education."

There was an acute demand for more early learning centres in the Wakatipu and parents regularly walked in to KingsView School to plead for space for their children at the early childhood education centre, she said.

"People are desperate and there's a huge need in the community. There are people trying to enrol their children before they are born."

Mrs Hodgson was a kindergarten teacher for more than 30 years and had raised two children. She had set up early learning centres in Auckland, "but this has been the best because we're starting from scratch".

"It's like a clean slate, and when the staff come on board we can write it together."

A fire evacuation plan has been lodged with the New Zealand Fire Service for approval and health officials will check the premises. A board of trustees will be formed once the ministry licence is granted.

It was expected the centre would operate from 8.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday, during school terms.

Information on enrolment will be posted on the KingsView School website soon.