School in a class of own

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - CAMP­BELL GELLIE camp­

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.

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