Outcry over Salisbury School closure


Yesterday’s announcement that the Minister of Education is initiating consultation on the closure of Salisbury School caused an outcry with public, staff and students all wanting to save the school.

Salisbury School Board of Trustees Chair John Kane says Education Minister Hekia Parata is “unbelievably short sighted and poorly advised.”

“The minister has wanted Salisbury School closed since 2012 so the news is not surprising, however, it is none the less devastating.”

Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith is also unsurprised by the decision.

“I accept Salisbury School cannot go on in its current form. You cannot justify $2 million a year, 42 full-time and part-time staff and the use of a prime 8 hectare site for nine pupils. The situation next year becomes even more untenable, with seven of the nine pupils completing their programme under the usual practice for residential schooling.

“The decline in Salisbury’s roll to unsustainable levels is because most families are choosing intensive, localised support…Times have changed, with a shift away from institutionalised, residential care to providing more support in the normal home and school environment.

However, John says the dramatic enrolment decrease is a result of the Ministry’s Intensive Wrap-around Service (IWS) which has been in control and managing down the school’s enrolments since 2012.

“From a school averaging 80 students in the years leading up to 2012 to just nine this year shows the sinking lid effect of the IWS.

“Young people with autism and complex intellectual disabilities are falling through the special education holes as they are not even getting into the IWS.”

“Parents tell us they were not even offered Salisbury when applying for the IWS, and they had to go to extreme lengths to be allowed to choose Salisbury,” says John.

With approximately 270 young people with autism under the age of 18 registered with the Nelson/Marlborough branch of Autism NZ alone, John believes it would not be difficult to find students with severe autism from around New Zealand would benefit from Salisbury School.

Consultation on the proposed closure of Salisbury will end on August 12. Following the consultation process, should the Minister decide that Salisbury School should close, the school board will have the opportunity to make further arguments in support of the school staying open.

The proposed date for the school’s closure is January 27 next year.


Nelson Live broke the news yesterday and since then you’ve all had your say with over 8,000 views and 184 reactions, comments and shares. Here’s what some of you had to say:

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