By Stephanie Arthur-Worsop

Rotorua’s only private school Chapman College will turn into a satellite campus of Tauranga’s Bethlehem College – a move described by one local principal as “extremely disappointing”.

The news has riled John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh, who says there seems to be a double standard when it comes to schools applying for roll increases.

“John Paul College has applied three times to have its roll increased and was denied on the grounds that there is still capacity in the schools network and the priority is filling the places in other schools.

“It seems as though that same test hasn’t been applied to Bethlehem College, which has been allowed to set up a campus in Rotorua and which will see students leaving the district for their education after year 8.”

Mr Walsh said in light of this announcement he would be asking the Ministry of Education to review John Paul College’s application for a roll increase.

“The argument is that it will provide choice for parents, but what about the 80 people on our waiting list – what about their choice to send their child to John Paul College? It’s going to be hard to explain this decision to them.”

Bethlehem College is a co-ed, state-integrated school offering non-denominational Christian-based education.

The school’s new Rotorua campus will be on the site of the current Chapman College on Biak St.

“Bethlehem College will offer 120 places for year 1 to 8 students from its new Rotorua base from the beginning of next year,” Ms Kaye said.

Chapman College will stop providing education for year 1 to 8 students from 2018. It will continue as a private school for year 9 to 10 for two years, and close at the end of 2019.

From next year, Bethlehem College will also be able to provide 60 additional places for year 9 to 13 students at its Tauranga campus.

“This announcement reflects the Government’s commitment to ensure there’s both sufficient capacity where needed, as well as choice within our education network,” Ms Kaye said.

Chapman College former principal Graham Preston. Photo / Stephen Parker

“Tauranga is one of our fastest-growing areas, and the Government has been investing heavily in new schools and classrooms to help meet roll growth in the city and surrounding communities.

“The additional spaces that Bethlehem College will offer from 2018 will contribute further to the enhanced capacity of the local school network,” Ms Kaye said.

“State-integrated schools such as Bethlehem College are an important part of our education system, because they offer families the choice of education with a special character that’s either religious or philosophical in nature.

“Bethlehem College is a high-performing school with above-average National Standards achievement rates, so I know there will be many families in the Tauranga and Rotorua areas who will welcome today’s announcement.”

Chapman College tried twice to become state integrated, giving it access to government funding.

Chapman College former principal Graham Preston said integrating Chapman College into Bethlehem College would make it affordable for Rotorua families.

“It is exciting for us … I am confident Chapman will be a star in the crown of Rotorua’s education sector.

“Bethlehem College and Chapman College have always been one and the same. Chapman won’t be disappearing, we will just be operating under the wing of Bethlehem.”

Mr Preston said Rotorua students at the satellite campus would have automatic entry to Bethlehem College in Tauranga after year 8.

Source: Bay of Plenty Times

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