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