11 Sep 2015

Private Christian school shut down

9:48 am on 11 September 2015

The Pacific Christian School in Auckland is being shut down because its 70 students are deemed to be at risk of harm.

Pacific Christian School at Mangere Bridge, Auckland.

Pacific Christian School at Mangere Bridge, Auckland. Photo: Radio NZ

It is the first time the Ministry of Education has suspended the registration of a private school.

The ministry said it had serious concerns for the welfare of the children there, and had not taken the decision to close it lightly.

Police and Child, Youth and Family were called in after an attack in June last year, in which an 11-year-old student stabbed another in the head with scissors.

A ministry spokesperson said four teachers had been formally warned after a police and social worker investigation into allegations of the use of physical discipline.

She said the ministry had met many times with the Mangere Bridge school's leaders but had been unable to get any assurances about the safety of the students.

The suspension starts from 25 September and the students will all be re-enrolled in other schools for the start of Term 4 in October.

The school has been given the chance to improve conditions, or its registration will be permanently cancelled.

The head of the Tongan Advisory Council, Melino Maka, worked with the school after last year's stabbing incident.

Mr Maka said it was lucky the school had only had its registration suspended, as any more would be devastating.

He said it was up to parents to think about whether they wanted to send children to the Pacific Christian School in the last two weeks it remained open.

"I think that they need to think about the future of the children because at the end of the day that is what is most important for all of us - the wellbeing and the safeguarding of the children."

The Education Review Office last checked on the Pacific Christian School, which has mostly Tongan students, in August 2012. The school caters for children in years 1 to 8.

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