A new way of looking at education
Located in the heart of Taranaki amongst a stunning natural environment is a school with a unique approach to teaching and learning. Green School New Zealand, as it is known, will in time be full of children from Year 1 to 13 and will also include a kindergarten.
Founded by Michael and Rachel Perrett, who were fortunate enough to experience the remarkable learning environment for their children at Green School in Bali, the couple were determined to find a way to establish a school in their native Aotearoa and as of February, that dream became a reality when the school was officially opened.
Chris Sullivan is the project manager within the school community. He says construction of the learning pods and the surrounding spaces at the school, located in Oakura, will extend over a 49 hectare former dairy farm. “I understand it to be the largest school site in New Zealand.
“The buildings currently completed will be just a part of the overall school site which includes a river, substantial native plantings and natural amphitheatres,” says Chris. Chris describes the process of forming the school and how it will operate as organic.
“It will be a unique education because we are defining the school as much wider than just the students and teachers who will be on site. It will extend its activities to engage with the wider Taranaki community, iwi and people from all sorts of backgrounds.”
Students at the school will self-direct their learning through a thematic approach where the various skills such as literacy and numeracy are practiced in meaningful real ways. “There’s a strong entrepreneurial thread to the pedagogy with students learning to take risks, trust their instincts and evolve dynamic thinking capability.”
To herald in the start of the school the environment is being nurtured with regular tree planting days.Chris says there’s been overwhelming support from the community towards these endeavours. Underpinning the school’s philosophy are several key skills, students will acquire.
These include thinking creatively, developing critical thinking capability, holding an awareness of yourself and those around you, collaboration, and problem solving to name a few.The school’s learning pods are like no other and the overall campus is forming through a collaborative input by international and local designers, architects and engineers.
They have been designed in curved shapes, without harsh defined straight lines, and are created using sustainable, largely locally sourced materials and processes. The pods are surrounded by more than 20,000 native plants and fruit trees, and every care is being taken to create a wonderful environment which encourages students to think openly and creatively.
Chris says the school has attracted students from around the world, with a fifty-fifty split between international and domestic students, of the 50 students currently enrolled.
The role is expected to increase to more than 100 in terms three of 2020 and increase from there as the campus develops. It’s status with the Ministry of Education is as a licensed private school.Chris says the opportunity to be part of pioneering such a school is something he really values.
“It will be one of the most iconic schools in the world and with that in mind it is hugely satisfying to be contributing.” The school’s physical location is on Koru Rd in Oakura, Taranaki, and by visiting its website those interested in this ground-breaking project will be able to delve further into the impulses sitting behind its founding.
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