Private school parents speak out
Families at a prestigious Christchurch private school have complained to its board and some have withdrawn their children amid a protest over modern education styles.
In a letter to Bishop Victoria Matthews and the Cathedral chapter, 34 signatories slammed Cathedral Grammar School’s board of trustees, the chapter that appointed them and principal Scott Thelning, claiming they were out of touch with their “customers” and teachers, half of whom had resigned in the last two years.
Parents feared there was “no longer a Grammar way” at the 250-pupil primary school, New Zealand’s oldest independent preparatory school.
The parents took umbrage with “8-year-olds ‘self-directing’ on iPads and Twitter” when they were paying up to $17,000 a year to avoid “a quagmire of modern learning” in public schools.
The letter, sent last Saturday, said the board appeared “intent on ignoring the reasons why many of us have sent our children to this school – a traditional education that is the basis for a successful life”.
It said the board and school leadership “paid little more than lip service” to parents’ concerns at an erosion of heritage. An emerging focus on soft skills was “a poor masquerade for declining standards in the basics of education” to the detriment of the reputation of the “once proud school”.
Staff losses were “massive” and families, including some of the signatories, were moving their children to other schools, the letter said. Seventeen out of 34 staff had resigned in two years, including three of four senior staff.
The school was looking to hire four teachers and an assistant principal. The lack of specialist teachers would “likely be the death knell for Grammar’s previously hard fought reputation for excellence,” parents said.