We regularly profile outstanding early childhood educators and innovative service providers to showcase the extraordinary commitment and energy of New Zealand's early childhood workforce.
This month we are proud to introduce Michael and Rachel Perrett, the founders of Green School New Zealand, which is scheduled to open early next year.
What prompted you to create a Green School in Taranaki?
We watched our own children, and many others, come alive with confidence, awareness, happiness and presence while at Green School Bali, which sparked a great desire to make the same opportunity available in our home country. When children's imaginations are fully ignited, they're guided to find a meaningful purpose and given the confidence to live it every day.
When will the school be open? Are you taking expressions of interest now?
The school will open in February, 2020. We have been taking applications for the past month, with applications set to close on August 30. Our goal is to open with a roll of 85 students and grow from there.
How does Green School differ from other forms of early childhood education and care?
Our world has seen innovation in all spheres of life - how we travel, how we work. However, if you think about school education, it is still very much the same as what our parents, or even our grandparents, underwent.
Green School offers a unique and different experience. It offers a hands-on, purpose driven learning experience based around a sustainable way of life which encourages the children to become effective collaborators and communicators, empowered decision makers and willing risk takers.
The Green School way of teaching is wall-less. The children's imaginations are encouraged and allowed to flourish. When they come across an obstacle, they are guided to find solutions and solve the issue. The children authentically engage with teachers and members of the community. This is real life learning, in a fun and nurtured environment.
Thirdly, Green School will embrace the idea that each child is different, honour his or her unique contributions and ideas to our special learning community, and nurture his or her development in order to optimise their true self-potential.
What are the benefits to children educated under this model of education?
At Green School, the idea is to focus on the student and who they are, then find a way to encourage their learning and confidence. It's about finding something a child is passionate about or interested in, then building the literacy and numeracy elements into that through themes or projects.
The Green School way of learning allows children to thrive by learning in a purposeful manner. Learning how to be a change maker and have a positive impact on the world, ignites the children's passion to learn, and turns learning from a chore, into a desire.
Last year at Green School Bali, there were 23 graduates. They had 56 universities go to Bali to interview these students. There are many students in the world with perfect grades, however, the ones with the entrepreneurial minds that have the ability to affect change, are much harder to come by.
Are there any other countries that you know of with similar early learning centre philosophies, facilities and practices to Green School?
The Green School brand is quite unique. We believe Green School is at the front of a wave that is forming across the education sector and expect many to adopt a similar way of learning, in time.
What ages will you cater for?
We will eventually cater for children from preschool, right through to high school.
Who will be heading up or managing the school?
Leading the education at GSNZ will be sought-after educator Chris Edwards. Chris is currently the Head of College at UWC South East Asia in Singapore, one of the largest, premium international schools in the world with approximately 5,000 students. He has also been head of Bromsgrove, one of the UK's largest, independent schools.
What unique properties will you be bringing to the Taranaki school compared to Bali's school?
We will adopt the same vision and values as Green School Bali, but in a New Zealand way. For example, one of the Green School Skills taught to children is to learn to 'adapt' or 'bend like bamboo'. At GSNZ, we will learn to 'flex like flax'.
Our campus will also be different to Bali and unique in its own way. We will incorporate Te Reo Māori and Māoridom into our everyday curriculum and are working closely with local iwi and hapu to ensure this is done in a valuable and respectful way.
What has the interest been like so far from parents and educators?
We have honestly been overwhelmed by the interest. Our GS Global Support Office director Karan Khemka has been opening schools for 17 years and said the response to Green School New Zealand is like nothing he has ever seen.
Enrolments have been open for one month, and in that time, we have received over 50 applications, more than 150 registrations of interest in addition the applications, and more than 300 messages from educators wanting to teach at the school.
Are there plans to expand in the future and have more Green School locations throughout New Zealand?
The school in Taranaki will be the only campus in New Zealand. We have established the Green School Global Network, with the intention of taking Green School global. We have recently signed a contract to establish the next Green School in Tulum, Mexico, in 2021.