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Nearly 150,000 students and upwards of 10,000 staff were engaged in education in Canterbury when the February 2011 earthquake struck.

All tertiary providers, schools and early childhood education centres closed their doors until further notice.

The Ministry of Education and the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) immediately began working with the sector to restore education provision as soon as possible.

Interim Business Case for Greater Christchurch Education Renewal and related Cabinet papers

Immediate steps

Our immediate response involved:

  • Relocation and co-location of 18 schools, and provision of transport for almost 7,000 students daily.
  • 55% of secondary students were initially involved in these site-sharing arrangements.
  • Deployment of 39 relocatable classrooms to replace lost accommodation and installation of portable toilets, 21 independent sewage systems, and temporary water storage tanks.
  • Within three weeks, 84% of students had schools available to them, and within a month all students had a school to go back to.
  • Relocating students from three residential schools (Van Asch, McKenzie and Halswell) to other schools across New Zealand for a term, with individualised support packages in place.
  • $20 million was spent on these interim arrangements designed to get learning going again as soon as possible.
  • Modifying tertiary funding and student support arrangements so students could continue their studies at other institutions.
  • Providing emergency funding and property grants to early childhood centres to help them reopen.
  • By 25 March 2010, 78% of centres were back up and running, with a number relocated or co-located with other centres.
  • Setting up 10 learning hubs within the first three days to offer an interim service to over 1,000 students whose schools were not ready to open.
  • Development of online resources for students and parents to access from home.
  • Putting in place a temporary enrolment scheme to manage student movement.
  • Use of interim facilities (including marquees) by tertiary education providers as teaching spaces, and greater use of flexible delivery. Students who were unable to access their regular campus were relocated.
  • Managing diplomatic relationships and providing support for the parents of international students, in particular those from China and Japan. Around 40% of those who died as a result of the earthquake on 22 February 2010 were international students.

Subsequent steps

As we moved to recovery:

  • All but 16 of 339 early childhood centres were able to re-open.
  • Buildings housing tertiary students were made safe and progressively re-opened.
  • Sites were restored to allow students to return to their schools.
  • Eight study centres were established for senior students whose learning was disrupted.
  • A broad-based programme was developed in conjunction with Sports Canterbury to address lost sporting and recreational opportunities for 12,000 students.
  • Social work support was provided in 17 eastern suburb schools where families were particularly severely impacted by the earthquakes.
  • Welfare hubs were developed at four schools to provide coordinated and more extensive support for communities.
  • The Early Childhood Education (ECE) transition support project was developed to ensure families in earthquake affected areas retained access to early childhood education, targeted assistance was provided to increase participation.
  • Training of early childhood and school teachers to support children and young people impacted by trauma (developed after the first earthquake) was enhanced to ensure teachers had the skills and capability to support affected children and their families.
  • To counter withdrawal, disengagement and absenteeism, intensive interventions were provided for children whose behaviour was severely affected or who were known to be particularly vulnerable.
  • The Government maintained resourcing levels in affected schools through to December 2011 to compensate for the initial loss of around 10,000 students.
  • A special staffing package was developed including retraining options, creation of a teacher relief pool, and supports for wellbeing.
  • The Youth Futures Canterbury group, which included leaders from tertiary providers, industry training organisations, secondary schools, government agencies and the Canterbury Development Corporation, was established to create opportunities for young people.
  • Money was allocated for up to 550 additional trades training places to help ensure the availability of skilled people for rebuilding work.
  • Canterbury Tertiary College was expanded to allow secondary students to study for an industry-based qualification while completing NCEA level 2.
  • A special derived grades procedure was formulated by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) to compensate NCEA candidates in greater Christchurch for the disruption they had experienced.
  • A new scholarship scheme, ‘Scholarships for Canterbury’, was created for Christchurch school leavers.
  • A Skills for Canterbury package of $42 million was introduced in Budget 2011 to support training for young people in trades that will support reconstruction.
  • Education New Zealand allocated extra funds – $5 million over four years – to help the recovery of international education in greater Christchurch.

Read about what the education system looks like now.

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