Special Character

Our Special Character

Aroha Discovery School is a special character school with the fundamental tenet that relationships (between students, teachers, parents, nature and the wider community) are fundamental. It is from this foundation that students will continually spark their creativity and desire to learn, grow and thrive as confident individuals.

Guiding Principles

  • Everyone is valued and everyone has a voice
  • Students are at the centre of their learning
  • Nurturing emotional intelligence is as important as nurturing mental intelligence
  • Exploring and playing in nature is critical to creating a balance between mind and body
  • Everyone is a learner and everyone is a teacher
  • Play is regarded as learning
  • We are part of and a contributor to a wider community

Core Values

  • Play and learning in nature:   

We want to help our students form a connection with nature in a positive, meaningful, and hopefully long-lasting way that translates as a way to find comfort and joy, as well as responsibility and advocacy through and beyond schooling.

  • Learning through play:    

Current research shows that play is not a mere past-time but a most effective and natural way in which a child explores and master’s new skills and integrates information. We provide an environment in which unstructured play freely occurs.

  • Self-reflection and goal setting

We believe that success should be measured through personal growth and intrinsic goals. That is why at Aroha Discovery School we view norm-referenced tests and examinations as incompatible with our emphasis on the individual. However, private assessments are seen as being useful at times. Instead the child is considered the owner of their own work and students are encouraged at all times, in all areas to compare their work and skills with their own previous achievements and their own goals. The capacity to use a skill and to generalise from it, is taken as demonstrating possession of that skill. We focus on the teaching of strategies to acknowledge and support what students do well, and use these strengths in areas of weakness.

  • Students taking ownership of their own learning

The student’s learning is, to a very great extent, under the student’s own control. In this way a student can genuinely advance at their own pace in response to their unique developmental sequence.  Mistakes are regarded as important learning information. The student’s learning belongs to the student, therefore the student is responsible to themselves for this learning—a teacher can assist and support, but is not responsible for the outcomes chosen by the student.

  • Close relationships

We all need to feel we are understood, valued and supported to be able to effectively learn and grow as individuals. At Aroha Discovery School learning to build and maintain healthy relationships (between students, students and teachers, students and parents, students and other adults in the wider community) is central to our students learning and involves established conflict resolution methods for problem solving between individuals. We work on building trust. Teachers are expected to be emotionally nurturing of the children. We encourage parent involvement in the school, whether that be simply being present within the school, teaching their passion or volunteering. Workshops/programmes will also be offered to the (wider) community.

  • Community

As well as nurturing relationships within the immediate school community we also have a strong emphasis on experiential learning fostering relationships with local businesses, parks/forests, museums, galleries and skilled real world mentors, so students have a sense of belonging to the wider community and can gain inspiration from these experiences.

  • Participation in rule-making and group meetings

Students voices are respected and valued as an important part of the community. We have regular school meetings in which all students are involved in creating and maintaining the structures by which the school functions. All aspects of community life are discussed and a democratic process is followed for making decisions, aiding students to become an effective and contributing member of a democratic society.