Press Release – Ministry of Education
The Ministry of Education said today it would work with Wellington’s Newtown School to find alternative accommodation for students after the main block at the school was found to be significantly earthquake prone.Newtown School – earthquake prone buildings
The Ministry of Education said today it would work with Wellington’s Newtown School to find alternative accommodation for students after the main block at the school was found to be significantly earthquake prone.
Tests commissioned by the Ministry of Education found the main block, with 12 teaching areas, to be well below the standard set out in the Building Code.
Those blocks have been cordoned off while the ministry works with the school to assess future options. The school is open today and students will use alternative accommodation on the site.
Future opening arrangements will be discussed over the next few days and the school community will be notified as soon as they are agreed.
Kim Shannon, the Ministry of Education’s property general manager said the first priority was the safety of students and staff.
“Although Newtown School’s main block has not been red-stickered and there is no imminent risk to students, the expert advice from engineers is that the building is significantly earthquake prone.
“The ministry will work with Newtown School to find alternative accommodation for its students so that longer term plans can be considered.”
Ms Shannon added: “The Ministry of Education has been strengthening school buildings for many years. The earthquakes in Christchurch have accelerated that work.
“The ministry, supported by professional engineers, is examining how buildings stood-up to those quakes and the findings will inform future remediation work.”
Matthew Stone, Newtown School board of trustees chairperson, said: “Newtown School was informed of the outcome of the earthquake proneness assessment by the Ministry of Education at 3pm on Wednesday.
“Since then we’ve been working closely with the ministry and the board held an emergency meeting with ministry officials last night.
“We started the planning process to get us through this week and to the end of the school term. We also briefly reviewed options for next year.
“The main block is closed to teaching as of last night, but the school remains open for all students.
“Our junior block and the school hall are open, and St Ann’s school has very kindly agreed to let us use their school hall for today and tomorrow.
“We contacted our families last night and asked them to attend a meeting this morning to pass on the information and the plans we’ve developed.
“We’ll be keeping our families closely informed as plans for next week, the rest of the term, and next year firm up.
“Until further notice we’ll be asking that each morning students assemble in the school hall at start of school and Rhys McKinley our principal and our teachers will provide the teaching plan for the day, we’re different classrooms will be located.
“Obviously this is a big shock for the school. We are a close knit community, we work hard for our students, our staff are dedicated and our families are closely integrated into the school life.
“Safety obviously has to be a top priority, but we’ll be doing everything we can to ensure this event won’t compromise our commitment to student learning.
“We are working closely with the Ministry of Education and will continue to do so. We appreciate the support and assistance provided so far during this difficult time.”