Port Macquarie's unique independent primary school, The Nature School, has announced an expansion into secondary years as the demand for nature-based learning remains high.
The Nature School's head of primary Catherine Oehlman said the school board worked hard to make the expansion to high school possible and listened to the wishes of parents.
"This will provide a really smooth transition for our students who have been enrolled at the primary school for a number of years," she said.
"There also is that assurance that comes from this announcement for parents because they now know that the nature-based schooling their children have been receiving will continue through into high school.
"A couple of hours after we notified parents that the school will be expanding to high school, I had a call from a parent who lives across the state saying they wanted to put their child's name down for 2025 because they will be moving here for the school."
The Nature School will open to Year 7 students in 2023, when the current Year 5 students reach high school.
"It's so exciting for the students, there was a collective cheer from Year 5 when we made the announcement," Ms Oehlman said.
The Nature School started as an early learning centre for children aged three to five in 2015, with the aim of the centre to allow children and their families to spend more time in nature.
In 2018 the school expanded and opened its doors to 22 students in Kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 2.
There are now 78 students from Kindergarten to Year 5 enrolled at the school.
"We have been adding new staff each year as our number of students grows and this will continue with the high school as well," Ms Oehlman said.
Additional spaces in Years 4, 5 and 6 will also open up next year in preparation for the expansion.
"We already have a waitlist for Year 7 and are encouraging parents to enroll students in the lower primary year levels as well."
The search is currently underway to find a suitable site for the high school.
"We're searching for a site in Port Macquarie and are hoping it will be close to the primary school," Ms Oehlman said.
At this stage the school board is committed to providing schooling up to Year 10, with the addition of Year 11 and 12 to be discussed at a later date.
"The lessons will be consistent with what they were taught in primary school and will stay based in nature pedagogy and 21st century skills," Ms Oehlman said.
"We hope to continue to create young change makers and inventors for the future."
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