Sarah Cohen teachers' passion impresses Hide

Meeting to discuss issues at Sara Cohen School in Dunedin yesterday are (from left) National list...
Meeting to discuss issues at Sara Cohen School in Dunedin yesterday are (from left) National list MP Michael Woodhouse, of Dunedin, board of trustees chairwoman Shelley Hill and Associate Education Minister Rodney Hide. Photo by Stephen Jaquiey.
Associate Education Minister Rodney Hide may not have made a funding announcement but having the opportunity to talk to him was enough for staff and parents of Sara Cohen School yesterday.

Seeing the Dunedin special school's dilapidated buildings in which pupils in wheelchairs cannot access buildings independently, wheelchairs cannot be moved freely in classrooms and there is only one toilet equipped for disabled pupils gave Mr Hide a clear idea of the school's needs.

"It's tough for students and teachers alike. But the students don't miss out because the teachers put extra in, and Dunedin should be very proud of this school because it's doing very well," he said.

Mr Hide remarked on the "passion of the teachers" and how well pupils were performing.

"It's very, very impressive."

However, there were "some issues to take back to my officials", which was his "responsibility as a minister".

"Issues of concern are the state of the buildings [and] the transport policy and that some of the students that are coming here don't get support."

Mr Hide vowed to work closely with Dunedin National list MP Michael Woodhouse on the issues, in which he was well versed.

The school has drafted a 20- to 30-year strategic plan under which it would share another school in the South Dunedin area.

An announcement by Mr Hide last October that $22.8 million had been allocated to "implement building projects in special schools and their satellites", had, at the time, given principal Raewyn Alexander hope of rebuilding.

Board of trustees chairwoman Shelley Hill said talking to Mr Hide had reassured her the school's state and its hopes would get to the person making decisions about its future.

"I'm sure it will be carried back.

"He has reassured us there is a role for special schools," she said.

Deputy principal Sue Waldron also raised the issue of transition for adult pupils after school.

"There have to be places for them to go. I think there is a huge area there for development," she said.

Teacher training was another area to be addressed, as she wanted trainee teachers to have placements in special schools.

ellie.constantine@odt.co.nz

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