School doubles in size after curriculum change brings learning into 21st century
A school has doubled in size since changing its curriculum to a utopia-like educational system.
Patea Area School's role now sits at 154 pupils since a "massive overhaul" trialled last year appealed to a large number of people.
School principal Nicola Ngarewa said the school now "focuses on preparing children for the 21st century, beyond the school gates".
This is done in many ways through their modern and innovative learning environment that allows more "focused" paths.
"We don't have bells or set time tables, and kids can choose whatever pathway they want, around where they want to go, and we'll deliver the courses and bring in expert teachers to work alongside them," she said.
Ngarewa said the bulk of the new students already had a connection of some form to Patea, but weren't educated there in the past.
"We've got kids that have not come to Patea before and maybe gone the other direction that are now coming back to Patea," she said.
"We have students that have previously gone out of town for education that are now choosing to stay in town."
Ngarewa said the school didn't have classrooms as such, they had a learning hub that is filled with iPads and eager students.
"To be honest, my office is normally not where we're sitting, it's in here amongst all of it," she said in the full room.
The students still have to reach targets like University Entrance, even if they aren't interested in university - but it's done differently.
"Regardless of whether they want a vocational path, the expectations are still of walking out of the door with those qualifications," Ngarewa said.
"For example, one of our boys might want to be a mechanic, and his literacy and numeracy programme is based around mechanics, not English or maths."
A normal school day for the Patea Area School students involves numeracy and literacy in first and second period, then the day splits into option classes.
This is where the students' different chosen subjects come into one in the learning hub where they work either in groups or individually.
Ngarewa said students don't tend to stray from doing work "because they're choosing and directing their own path".
"We spend a huge amount of time building the curriculum around them," she said.
There are teachers floating around the learning hub at all times to monitor the students too, they also offer one-on-ones if needed.
With approximately one teacher to every 10 students the school rarely has issues, and even if they did Ngarewa doesn't believe in punishment, therefore, the school takes a restorative approach.
The students also get one Friday out of every two weeks doing "experiential authentic learning" that incorporates the importance of the community.
This involves "real life learning" with things like diving, boat trips and much more, which the students take life skills away from.
Ngarewa said students and the community sat at the centre of what the school does and they've "borrowed and stolen all sorts of ideas from all around the world" to fit that.