Schools may merge

Looking ahead. . . Longford Intermediate principal Yvonne Catherwood and Gore High principal John McKinlay discuss the redevelopment plan to create new learning spaces which will include a younger age group of pupils if the merger of the two schools goes ahead. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

The boards of trustees of two Gore schools have asked the Ministry of Education to begin the process of merging their schools.

In 2020, the Gore High School and Longford Intermediate School boards starting working together to seek community input on how the schools will cater for the needs of pupils in the future.

The Ministry of Education hired an independent consultant, Dr Gabrielle Wall, to oversee the process.

Workshops were held which discussed three possible options:

1. An intermediate and a year 9-13 secondary school.

2. A year 7-13 secondary school.

3. A year 7-10 middle school and a year 11-13 senior school.

People could also complete an online survey.

Gore High School and Longford board of trustees chairpersons Brendon Harrex and Leah Wilson said the two boards had met regularly since 2020 to consider the feedback and options to enhance year 7 to year 13 education in Gore.

“After extensive discussion and exploration of options, we have mutually agreed to progress the proposal of the merger of both schools.

“The staff and students have been at the centre of our minds as we have discussed this proposal and we believe that if it proceeds, a merger will provide many benefits to both.”

It was an exciting opportunity to develop a shared vision for year 7 to 13 pupils, they said.

“We believe that operating as one school will reduce the current transition between year 8 and year 9 and enable staff to collaborate in a way that is not possible when operating as two schools.”

There was a process that needed to be followed and ultimately the Minister of Education would make the decision, they said.

“Any change will likely take effect in 2024.”

In the meantime, the ministry would undertake more consultation.

“If approved, the merged school will be accommodated on the Gore High School site and provision is being made in our redevelopment planning to provide for this.”

A redevelopment of Gore High is being planned.

About 60% of the buildings will be demolished to make way for modern learning spaces.

It was hoped the project would start in 2023 and finish in 2025.

The merged school would run from two sites in the interim.