Education Minister to consider future of school with one student

Stephanie Pomare, the school's sole student, with her mother Phyllis Pomare.
Stephanie Pomare, the school's sole student, with her mother Phyllis Pomare. Photo credit: Newshub/ Karen Rutherford

The Education Minister has begun a consultation process over whether to withdraw funding for a school with just one student.

Hato Pētera School, a Māori Catholic school on Auckland's North Shore, employs four teachers and one administrator - but Stephanie Pomare is its only student.

The school is set to receive more than $500,000 in funding from the Ministry this year, with $200,000 for maintenance and keeping the school running and $340,000 to pay staff.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said there were concerns about the sustainability of the school, after a Commissioner was hired to take over its governance earlier this year.

"Despite the extensive work of the Commissioner, previous Boards of Trustees, teaching staff and the community, concerns about the College's finances, human resourcing, curriculum and its low student numbers remain."

Mr Hipkins says a consultation process over the future of the school will run until May 14, and he'll consider the feedback before making a decision about whether to cancel the school's integration agreement with the Ministry.

Commissioner Lex Hammill, who is running Hato Pētera School, said it does not feel like an ordinary school.

"When you walk down the corridor you can hear the echo of your own footsteps rather than the laughter of children, and that's not ideal in any school."

Stephanie, who is a year 10, and her mother Phyllis Pomare are planning to hold a hui on Saturday in an attempt to save the school.

Stephanie's mother says the culture and heritage of the school, which first opened in 1928, is worth fighting for.


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