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Parata disappointed by teachers' strike

14:51 Thu Dec 6 2012
AAP
Opposition parties say a planned strike by Christchurch teachers over school closure proposals is a clear signal to the government to stop and listen.
Opposition parties say a planned strike by Christchurch teachers over school closure proposals is a clear signal to the government to stop and listen.

Education Minister Hekia Parata says a decision by Christchurch teachers to strike over plans to close and merge the city's schools is disappointing, after many of them took part in the government's consultation.

Teachers and support staff from more than 100 Christchurch schools attended a meeting organised by the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) on Wednesday afternoon, and voted to strike on February 19 - the day after Ms Parata is due to advise school boards of her final decisions.

She says teachers have had the chance to be a part of consultation over the proposals, and she's "disappointed they have taken this course of action".

"I visited 36 of the 37 schools under consultation and I know that many of the teachers were at those consultations and a number of them spoke. However, it is a matter for their boards and their principals how they ensure that everyone's kept abreast of consultation."

The teachers also presented a 7000-signature petition to Wigram MP Megan Woods to deliver to Prime Minister John Key.

The petition, signed by teachers from across the country, urges the government to halt the closure and merger plans and listen to Christchurch educators, students and parents.

"Hekia Parata has botched the consultation process from day one, but it is not too late for her to listen to the community," Ms Woods said.

John Leadbetter, a teacher at Parkview School, which is not proposed for any change, says the strike is "technically unlawful".

Of the 215 schools across greater Christchurch, the government is proposing to close 13 primary and intermediate schools and merge 18 primary schools.

It is also proposing to close five schools in the suburb of Aranui and merge them into a Year 1-13 campus, and close two Akaroa schools and "attach" them to a third school for a new Learning Community Cluster.