Hutt Valley High School students protesting their learning conditions outside Parliament say they’re disappointed the Education Minister hasn’t come out to hear their thoughts today.
"It’s an educational issue. I wish he would have at least acknowledged us, I’m very disappointed," head boy Patrick Maslen said.
The students want the Government to fund a replacement building after the discovery of unsafe levels of black mould shut down an entire block of classrooms in late March.
As part of the protest, students set up desks to do their schoolwork on Parliament’s lawn for the day.
1 NEWS spoke to some of the students who said they were disappointed Education Minister Chris Hipkins hadn’t come to see them.
"I met with the school this week and conversations were constructive – we are all focussed on finding a solution for the school and community," Hipkins said in a statement.
Five hundred senior students are currently splitting their weeks between learning from home and school.
The Ministry of Education has set up learning hubs in rented buildings nearby, but learning is still carried out remotely with classes taught over Zoom.
"It’s clear to see that the education of young people in New Zealand is not as much of a priority as it should be," Maslen said.
"Hutt Valley High School is representative of many schools around the country struggling with lack of funding."
The Ministry of Education says they are working with Hutt Valley High School.
"This includes demolishing C Block and identifying the best place on the school site for its replacement," Kim Shannon, from the Ministry of Education, said in a statement.
"Three alternative accommodation options are up and running that can host around 200 students and are all within a short walk of the school campus."
"We know that our school and the Ministry of Education have put good measures in place to support us in the short term, and we are pleased to hear that temporary classrooms should be on the school grounds by August, however, this is only a short-term solution," Maslen said.
Labour’s Hutt South MP Ginny Andersen visited the students at Parliament and said her focus is the students.
"I’m more interested in focussing on getting outcomes for the students and the community as opposed to pointing the finger as to which Government should’ve done more," Andersen said.
"There is steps being taken, I’m just interested to know when exactly that is happening and the amount of funds being committed to Hutt Valley High School."
National’s List MP based in Hutt South, Chris Bishop, said he was impressed by the students for their efforts and continuing to do their schoolwork.
"Sending a message to Parliament and the Government around the state of their buildings is I think is really impressive and the leadership displayed by the students is equally impressive," he said.
National’s education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith was also there and said there needs to be faster Government action.
"It is embarrassing, and we should see a much more swift response from the Government to this basic kind of issue."