Flag Swamp School to open, despite impending decision on its closure

Chris Hipkins. Photo: Getty Images
Chris Hipkins. Photo: Getty Images
Flag Swamp School will reopen for the 2020 school year next week, despite Education Minister Chris Hipkins making a ‘‘preliminary decision’’ to close it.

Ministry of Education sector enablement and support deputy secretary Katrina Casey said the decision was made after hearing the views of the school’s board of trustees and residents.

‘‘The decision to close a school is never easy, but any decision would follow the requirements of the Education Act and be made by the Minister of Education.’’

She said the board of trustees was notified of the preliminary decision late last year, and had been given until the end of February to provide any further information for the education minister’s consideration before a final decision was made.

Consideration of the school’s closure was initiated by the ministry for several reasons, she said.

However, consistently low rolls was one of the main reasons.

The highest the school’s roll reached in the past two decades was 31 pupils in 2001.

Since then, it has declined steadily, and last year just six pupils remained at the school.

‘‘The school’s principal resigned in July 2019 and the school also currently has a limited statutory manager,’’ she said.

‘‘In recent years, Education Review Office reports have identified areas for improvement.

Flag Swamp School limited statutory manager Cleave Hay said the school would reopen next Wednesday and four pupils were expected to attend classes until the final decision was made.

Ms Casey said there were other schools located close to Flag Swamp School, and when it closed, the ministry would work with parents to support any existing pupils into new schooling.

Flag Swamp School is one of Otago’s oldest schools, and celebrated its 150th anniversary last October.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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