17 February, 2021
New school brings different thinking to Takapuna
A new private school in Takapuna last week opened its $10 million facility featuring a tube slide down from the first floor, soundproof music studio and a sky lounge for relaxation.
Age School is the brainchild of a Takapuna couple, Evan Christian and Katherine Allsopp-Smith, who two years ago decided to develop the Academy for Gifted Education as a school for their son Branson and others.
The school is designed for children from year 1 to 12 who thrive in smaller classes. They offer a focus on personalised learning, real world projects, and development of emotional intelligence.
“Research shows that this type of learning works well for gifted kids,” says Principal Steven Mouldey. “But it also works well for all kids.”
However, it doesn’t come cheap. Parents can expect to spend $18,000 to $22,000 per year. The school at the corner of Sanders Ave and Lake Rd currently has 58 students.
Age School does not have a uniform and offers a different learning environment compared to a typical school.
It has large open-plan classrooms, a green-screen room for film projects and a soundproof music studio. The ‘sky lounge’ is an elevated platform in the centre of the school, with hammock-like squares of netting where students can lie down and relax or read a book.
With no space for a sports field, some of the second-storey deck space is covered with artificial turf and has a small basketball court below. A tube slide can take students from the first floor to the ground floor.
Solar panels are located on the roof, and the interior is decked out with colourful bookshelves, with cubby holes for reading. Every student has access to a laptop or tablet.
The school currently has 10 teachers, some part-time. It uses the standard New Zealand curriculum but incorporates ex-tracurricular activities, including outdoor activities at Takapuna Beach.
The students have recently been involved with the Takapuna Boating Club for waka ama lessons and learning surf-lifesaving skills.
With a focus on green initiatives and sustainability, the school has also adopted Auburn Reserve, in an ongoing project with the Pupuke Birdsong Project.
The school expects to have 100 students by the middle of the year.
“A lot of schools have that really strong academic focus, but to thrive, we think students need to be both happy and learning,” say Mouldey.
He was previously part of the team that launched state school Hobsonville Point Secondary School. “I was always one of those teachers who did things a bit differently and encouraged more curiosity and creativity,” he says. His last job was as deputy principal at Lynfield College.
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