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Queenstown Times: Why did you want to become a board member and how long have you been in the role?
Andy van Ameyde: I am currently employed by the Christian Schools in Christchurch, which includes Middleton Grange and Hillview Christian School, to foster co-operation across the schools and be the single channel of advocacy to the Ministry of Education.
Part of my work is to also support smaller Christian schools around the South Island and hence my involvement with Southern Lakes Christian School over the past five years, particularly in guiding them through the integration process, but also making resources and expertise freely available from the Christchurch schools.
QT: What is the biggest issue facing Southern Lakes Christian School pupils and what do you want done to tackle it?
Pupils in Queenstown face the same challenges as all Kiwi school pupils, which is trying to make sense of a world where there is now no absolute right or wrong and everyone does what is right in their own eyes.
Children need clear boundaries of right and wrong, which gives them the security to blossom.
I believe that integrated schools with a clearly defined special character give parents confidence in knowing what values their children will be taught and give a high degree of consistency between home and school.
QT: Will National Standards improve a pupil's education at the school?
I think parents need to have a clear understanding of how well their child is performing.
While National Standards will assist in this process, we also need to recognise that an even more important measurement is the value-added measurement of a pupil's performance.
Some schools may not be getting their pupils to pass National Standards yet have significantly contributed to a child's education.
We also need to recognise that education is not solely about academic standards, but is also about instilling values, which, in our case, are biblically based.
QT: How would you describe the school's financial situation and what needs to be done to improve it?
As an independent school, the school's finances have been challenging.
However, with significant assistance from a few very generous locals and support from similar schools throughout New Zealand, the school has remained in business.
Integration will significantly improve the school's finances and make the school fees more accessible to more families.
QT: Is a Christian education still relevant in today's society?
Our western civilisation has flourished because of the order and stability that the Christian faith has given it.
History teaches us that when a society's morals and values are lowered, the society will ultimately fall.
We believe that challenging our pupils to personally live out their biblical faith will be in their best interests, but will also allow them to be salt and light and a blessing to the society in which they live.
QT: What benefits will the school's transformation from a private school to a private integrated school bring to pupils and the community?
Integration opens up a new era for the school, as the state will now finance the school staff and operational costs.
This will significantly lower fees, giving parents in Queenstown much needed choice.
It will also provide increased educational capacity in one of New Zealand's fastest-growing areas.