15 Jun 2012

Residential special schools want to stay open

9:54 pm on 15 June 2012

Residential special schools have told the Government they want to stay open.

Submissions closed on Friday on a proposal to close some or all of the four residential schools and replace them with better services in regular schools.

The four schools are in Auckland, Nelson and Christchurch, which has two - and cater for about 116 children with complex special needs.

The Ministry of Education wants to give the children intensive support in their home communities - a proposal it says could result in the closure of one or more of the residential special schools.

But the chairwoman of the board of trustees of Salisbury School in Nelson, Helen McDonnell, says the ministry needs to do more research about the new approach.

"We could see absolutely no evidence in the literature that supported that this would be a good model for post-primary girls with complex learning impairments.

"We propose that they defer a decision to close Salisbury until more research and evidence can be done into this particular area.

Ms McDonnell hopes the Government's recent back-down on school staffing ratios will encourage it to consider the issue very carefully.