School in a class of own
A NEW primary school has been given the green light to open in the Tweed next year.
It will have just 12 students and all of them will have a say in how the school is run.
The region’s first democratic education facility — to be named The Small School — has been approved by the Tweed Shire Council.
It will replace a former tutoring house in King Street, Murwillumbah.
“We’re a local family and we were looking for another educational option for our daughter and were aware a number of families were as well,” school manager Carla Wilson said. She hoped to open the school next year.
“After a three-year project to research what was available in educational alternatives we developed our philosophy and got to work on it.”
She said the main tenet of The Small School would be democratic education.
“Children have some say in what they learn and how they spend their day,” she said.
“We are interested in student-led learning. We also will be doing a multidisciplinary education, hands-on learning and play-based learning in a non-competitive environment.”
And while it is a type of new-aged education a long way from the canes and detention of traditional schools, there will be some structure.
“We will be registered with NSW Education Standards Authority and using the NSW syllabus,” Ms Wilson said.
“The way we do that is meeting the learning outcomes through the multidiscipline model through project or themed-based learning.”
The development application filed by Ms Wilson originally sought to have 36 students.
After complaints from neighbouring King St business owners, the number of students was reduced to 12.
The school is yet to set its fees. However, Ms Wilson said it would not be as expensive as most private schools in the region and similar to the Steiner schools, about $6000 a year.
Tweed Shire Council voted six-to-one on Thursday last week in favour of the project.
The councillor who voted against the proposal, Pryce Allsop, said: “Whilst I am in favour of the school I am not in favour of a school being built (at King St in Murwillumbah).”
Cr Allsop was concerned parents of school students would use parking spaces currently being used by customers of a nearby pharmacy.
“You have people who are ill and have ailments parking there,” he said.
“The chemist can get 10-15 cars in a period of time and they may lose a lot of income if they can’t find a park.”
Cr Chris Cherry said her children attended a small school.
The provision to have extra parking behind the building was enough for her to support the application, she said.