“Absolutely devastated” Rolleston College faces major construction setback

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Mar 03, 2024 |


Parents at Rolleston College are voicing their frustration after the Education Ministry announced delays to the school’s new campus project, a decision made without any prior consultation.

Principal Rachel Skelton conveyed the news to parents in a detailed letter.

“It is with deep concern that I share with you some significant developments regarding Rolleston College’s new campus.”

She explained that despite the initiation of construction, the Ministry of Education has unexpectedly decided to pare down, revamp, and postpone the project without engaging stakeholders.

“The Ministry has presented a proposal with significant changes to stage one and communicated that there is currently no commitment or appetite to proceed with stages two and three of the campus development.”

According to the Ministry’s revised plan for stage one, the science and technology block will see minimal modifications. A shift from modular buildings to indefinitely using transportable portacoms as classrooms, without the intended purpose-built fit-outs, has also been proposed.

Furthermore, the gymnasium’s design will be scaled down to a single gym, eliminating all classroom space, health services for the nurse and guidance counselors, and facilities for staff.

Additionally, there will be a notable decrease in the number of outdoor courts and the field will be halved in size. This overhaul will significantly delay the first phase of the campus, with construction commencement pushed to July and the completion timeline extended to 2026.

“We are absolutely devastated by this announcement and struggling to wrap our heads around what this means,” Skelton shared.

She criticised the Ministry’s proposal for its inability to serve as a standalone educational institution, pointing out its lack of foundational resources necessary for effective learning.

“With our projected roll growth, this means only one-third of the school will be delivered for the more than 800 learners expected to begin in 2026.

“We feel as though the Ministry has failed our learners and is failing to cater to NCEA level 2 and 3 learners in Rolleston beyond 2025, putting the educational future of our students in jeopardy,” she added.

In response, the college is communicating with government and Ministry officials to highlight the urgency and the critical need for a new campus capable of delivering the senior curriculum and accommodating up to 1,500 students.

The school has extended invitations to the Prime Minister, Education Minister, and the MP for Selwyn to visit Rolleston College.

“Providing quality education to our students is our top priority, and an adequately sized, modern campus is vital for delivering the best learning experience and results.

As we navigate this challenge, we remain committed to transparency and open communication.”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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