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Salisbury School disappointed at closure recommendation

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Board of Salisbury School, the only residential special school for girls with intellectual impairment in New Zealand, is disappointed that the Minister of Education is recommending that the Nelson-based school be closed, in favour of a co-educational residential facility located in Christchurch.

Board Chairperson Helen McDonnell says that the while the School is pleased that the Ministry is proposing to retain a residential option for special education in New Zealand, they are deeply concerned about the fact that the any such facility would be co-educational. "Our primary concern has always been, and will continue to be, the welfare of the students who need Salisbury School - both now and in the future," says McDonnell. "Salisbury is the only residential, single-sex option for girls with intellectual impairment in New Zealand. Many parents come to us because their daughters have a proven history of failure in mainstream schooling - and they are at risk in a co-educational environment.

"We understand the Ministry’s desire to place schools near to where the girls are from, but at the end of the day, their place of origin could change in the future," she says. "Girls currently travel from all over the country to attend Salisbury, and many would still be required to do so for the North Island and Christchurch facilities. What’s most important is that the school they arrive at is a safe environment for them.

"Salisbury has close working relationships with many people in the sector in Nelson, including schools, the councils, social and health services. Starting these community relationships from scratch in other places will take time and we believe could put the girls at risk in the meantime," she says. "We also have a school community of experts in their field - expertise that has been built up over many years - so it is disappointing that the Minister does not regard this expertise as a valuable resource for some of the country’s most vulnerable girls.

"Meanwhile, the Ministry has allowed 28 days for the Boards of the effected schools to respond with any final reasons they should not be closed. We intend to take full advantage of this opportunity.

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