Planned school needs pupils

JONATHAN CARSON
Last updated 05:00 17/12/2012
Park Terrace
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ

TEACHING TEAM: Jan Kearvell and Kerryn Barr plan to open a new school in Hamilton to provide an alternative to traditional education.

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A new school offering an alternative approach to education is expected to open in Hamilton next year.

The school - provisionally called Park Terrace - is the brainchild of Waikato teachers Jan Kearvell and Kerryn Barr.

Six students, aged 10 to 15, are enrolled to start in January, but the school needs at least nine enrolled students before the Ministry of Education will allow it to open.

Ms Kearvell said their school was inspired by Brockwood Park School in England and the philosophies of Indian spiritual teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti and education and creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson.

It is an alternative take on the "very industrial model" of many traditional schools, Ms Kearvell said.

"There's children who need something other than the current system.

"We must change something in order to hold onto the goodness and the wonder that's there in primary school. It seems, so much of it, to fade."

The teaching will focus on subjects the students are interested in. Lessons will be up for negotiation at the beginning of each week.

The Park Terrace website says: "We intend to create a space where students feel able to find and follow passions, nurture their individuality and creativity, master essential skills and feel free to question everything, in an atmosphere free from uninvited comparison and fear.

"Quiet contemplation, open discussion and wide-ranging questions will be essential to this environment."

Philosophy will be taught from a young age.

Ms Kearvell and Ms Barr, who met while working together at Hamilton's Fraser High School, have secured a premises - the former Gracelands Trust building on the corner of Vialou and Rostrevor streets.

They are now waiting for three more students to sign up and for the ministry to confirm the suitability of the building before they get the green light.

Ms Kearvell said the plan was for the roll not to exceed 80 students, and to have a ratio of one teacher for every 12 students.

"To a certain extent . . . it's a bit of an experiment," she said. "But it's a very considered experiment and we know that there's a need."

Ministry of Education policy manager Jerome Sheppard said he was working with Ms Kearvell and Ms Barr and was assessing their proposal.

If the school is approved it will receive no ministry funding for the first year.

Operational costs will be covered by school fees or donations.

jonathan.carson@waikatotimes.co.nz

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