Prin­ci­pal pro preschool

Central Leader - - News - By Janie Smith

More chil­dren will have an early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion be­fore they start school if St Joseph’s School prin­ci­pal Andy Thomp­son has his way.

Mr Thomp­son is part of the Maun­gakiekie Ed­u­ca­tion and Com­mu­nity Trust, which wants to es­tab­lish an early child­hood cen­tre in an empty build­ing next to the One­hunga school.

He says re­cent fig­ures from the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry show St Joseph’s has a high per­cent­age of chil­dren en­rolling with no early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion or preschool ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We are out of synch with na­tional aver­ages. For a decile three school, the na­tional av­er­age for chil­dren arriving with preschool ex­pe­ri­ence is 91 per­cent.

“At this school it’s 70 per­cent. We are sig­nif­i­cantly be­low for the type of school we are.”

He says there are only four preschools in the im­me­di­ate vicin­ity of the school.

The trust has its eye on the Auck­land City Coun­cil-owned premises on Rowe St, which for­merly op­er­ated as a ko­hanga reo but has been empty since late 2007.

The coun­cil did some mi­nor ren­o­va­tions and it was put up for lease at the end of last year.

The trust ap­plied to the Auck­land City Coun­cil for the lease in Septem­ber but was un­suc­cess­ful.

Mr Thomp­son says the coun­cil didn’t spec­ify why the trust’s ap­pli­ca­tion failed, but thought it may be due to its new­ness and lack of com­mu­nity track record and au­dited fi­nan­cial state­ments.

He made a pre­sen­ta­tion to the Maun­gakiekie Com­mu­nity Board in Jan­uary ask­ing it to re­con­sider its case for the lease.

“The board of trustees for many years has been in­ter­ested in es­tab­lish­ing an early child­hood cen­tre but we don’t have suf­fi­cient space on school grounds,” he says.

The school had a work­ing re­la­tion­ship with the ko­hanga reo when it was op­er­at­ing and saw the op­por­tu­nity to es­tab­lish a new cen­tre along­side the school.

If it is awarded the lease, the trust plans to cater for 60 chil­dren a day and also help to es­tab­lish a fam­ily ser­vice cen­tre to of­fer sup­port and de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties to fam­i­lies.

Mr Thomp­son says the trust would ap­ply for Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry fund­ing and would bring in a con­sul­tant to set up the cen­tre.

Maun­gakiekie Com­mu­nity Board chair­woman Brid­get Gra­ham says the board will de­cide who to rec­om­mend for the lease at its meet­ing to­mor­row.

The board’s rec­om­men­da­tion will then go to coun­cil for ap­proval.

The two main con­tenders for the lease are the trust and a com­mu­nity group for the el­derly called Shanti Ni­was.

“We asked for it to come back so we could have more in­for­ma­tion on both par­ties.

We will be looking at that fur­ther in­for­ma­tion be­fore mak­ing a de­ci­sion,” she says.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Ed­u­ca­tion po­ten­tial: St Joseph’s School prin­ci­pal Andy Thomp­son wants to turn this va­cant build­ing into an early child­hood cen­tre.

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