A group of parents and educators are actively working to open an independent primary school in the Berry region in 2021.
Their goal is to open a community-focused Steiner school that offers holistic education, integrating nature immersion, creativity and child-led, experiential learning.
They believe there is sufficient demand in the community for a small independent school and are passionate about providing an alternative schooling option to children and families in our region.
Parent and group member Chloe Dover said they were not looking to replace the current public school system.
"I believe this type of school is needed because while public schools are a vital part of the community, not every kid fits into mainstream schooling," she said.
"For kids who are less academic and more creative, there needs to be a place for them to flourish in their natural interests and abilities. "
Currently, alternatives to mainstream schooling exist in Wollongong (Montessori), Bowral and Bega (Steiner).
The group sees their proposed school as serving those families in our community who believe an alternate model of education will see their children thrive.
They are currently searching for a suitable school site and beginning our application to NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority) to gain registration and accreditation to operate as a non-government school.
The application is due on March 31, 2020, and if successful, will be followed by an inspection of the school site before final approval is granted.
Enrolments can commence only when the school is officially approved to operate.
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Chloe thinks many parents would be interested in the new school proposal.
"I think there are a lot of families these days who are looking for something that will put their child more in touch with nature, generate interest in sustainability and biodynamic agricultural practices, and allow them creative freedom to explore their interests," she said.
"Steiner schools are very evidence-based in their teaching methodologies, teaching children in an age-appropriate manner according to their developmental stage.
"This means that younger children will really benefit from having the focus be on play-based learning, with no pressure to academically achieve prematurely, and have their learning individualised to their readiness and personal development.
"There is an honouring of the child as a whole person, taking into account not just their cognitive achievements but also their emotional, physical, social and spiritual well being."
Chloe feels this alternative education approach would help students and not hamper them when the time comes to going to high school.
"We believe that by nurturing the growth of all of these elements in a child that you create compassionate, morally guided young people who are fuelled by a natural curiosity and innate love of learning," she said.
"This will then spill into high school years, whether they are attending mainstream or a Steiner high school.
" We believe that by allowing children to have a positive, respectful, free childhood that they will be better equipped with innovation and creativity to step into the wider world - whether that be high school or beyond."
There appears to be strong interest in the proposal.
"We already have a lot of interest in the local community, just through word of mouth, with an overwhelmingly positive response especially from parents who have been looking for something alternative for their children, or parents who would be homeschooling their children if something like this doesn't come up," Chole said.
"We also have the long term goal of turning this primary school into a high school as well."
For more information contact the group at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow the progress via their website and social media channels.
"I am a parent and have two little ones, my son will be starting kindergarten in 2022, so I'm definitely hoping this work will benefit him and down the track his sister too," Chole added.