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Consultation With St Stephen's School

Published: Fri 25 Aug 2000 09:28 AM
Consultation On Government’s Integration Agreement With St Stephens School
Education Minister Trevor Mallard today announced a new move towards determining the future of the troubled St Stephen’s School in Auckland.
A consultation will be held with the St Stephen’s Trust Board with a view to reaching agreement with the board to cancel the existing integration agreement covering the school.
Trevor Mallard said it was not an easy decision to have to make, but he had no other option in the interests of the health and safety and the education of the students at the school.
If the integration agreement is cancelled, St Stephen’s will revert to being a private school, and any decision on its future will be in the hands of the Trust Board.
Trevor Mallard said it was a sad day in the history of one of the country’s proudest schools.
“The educational viability of the school has been the subject of seven unsatisfactory reports by the Education Review Office during the past decade.
“The low level of the quality of teaching and learning has been a consistent theme at this school. Despite high levels of intervention, the review office has continued to identify significant problems across the spectrum of planning, assessment, teaching, behavioural management, subject knowledge and standards of achievement.
“The ERO reports of 1995, 1996 and 1998 noted high levels of violence in the school. While improvements in student welfare and pastoral care were noted earlier this year, the changes were considered ‘fragile and vulnerable’.
“Two serious incidents of assault have been reported to the police this year and, in May, ERO officials met the principal to discuss issues including student safety. The report of that meeting states that the arrangements for the protection and safety of boarders were ‘extremely unsatisfactory’.
“It was further noted that there was no evidence that the decrease in reported incidents of bullying and other misconduct noted early in the year had been sustained.
“In June, the ERO said a climate of negativity prevailed at the school, and that the use of praise and reinforcement of positive behaviour was almost completely lacking.
“With respect to the management of student behaviour in the boarding house/hostel, the ERO said the main strategy to manage student behaviour was fear. It described the climate in the hostel as largely hostile and joyless. Ministerial correspondence and the previous reports of the ERO strongly suggest a pattern of ongoing aggression and hostility.”
Trevor Mallard said that following the most recent ERO report, he took it upon himself as Minister to visit St Stephen’s School on two separate occasions. The first was to deliver and explain the report, the second was to hear the response from the Trust Board, board of trustees, staff and some parents and students.
“Now that I have initiated discussion about the future of St Stephen’s School, I have instructed my officials at the Ministry of Education to support the Trust Board through the coming consultation process and to keep me fully informed of developments.
“Our first priority is the safety and wellbeing of the students,” Trevor Mallard said
Ends

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