What is Ako
Ako, the little bush school in the big city, is a full primary school that provides tamariki between 5-13 years with a learning space, as an alternative to traditional schools. Ako is play-based, child-led, passion-driven, and outdoor-centered.
Our philosophy is based on leading-edge research from the areas of brain development, creativity, child psychology and parenting. Ako provides children with an education ideal for their brain development and overall health and well-being. Useful resources that support this philosophy can be found on our resources page.
Step inside Ako
You find us nestled within native bush on a little clearing surrounded by tall trees for climbing and building hutts.
As you look to the left, you see a 7 year old girl teaching a 5 year old boy how to tie a leaf necklace he just made so he can wear it around his neck.
A kereru (wood pigeon) is calling close by while straight ahead, two boys are busy building a hut with large sticks, bungees and ropes. The smaller boy is pulling a rope that is swung over a tree branch and has a large branch tied to it. He is struggling to pull it up. Our kaiako (teacher) Kate is standing beside the boys extending their learning as she explains how levers work.
Another little boy, swinging slowly in a hammock, has put down the 'Cat in a hat' book and is observing the hutt building activity.
Further to the left, you overhear discussions between two girls who are negotiating rules for a new game.
Wherever you turn, you can feel a deep sense of belonging, calmness and kindness in everything that the tamariki do. As the sun rises higher and the day gets warmer, the little boy leaves his hammock and sits crossed legged on a woven mat, eating his salad. The girls stop their play and grab their lunchboxes to take a seat beside the boy. Slowly, all the other children are making their way to the mat to enjoy some shared kai (food).
Stories and learnings from the morning are exchanged between the children and plans are hatched about what to do after lunch.
“Play is the beginning of knowledge.”
Assessment happens every day through the observations of our teachers and are analysed against the NZ Curriculum and Te Whariki.
These assessments are captured via learning stories - a documented observation of a student as an active learner. Students can hear their voice, feel value in what they experienced, reflect on what social skills were used, what urges were met, and see what learning emerged through their own initiated play.
Teachers will keep records of instances during play and learning when tamariki show that their learning meets the guidelines of the whole New Zealand Curriculum, including the key competencies, values and learning areas. Student progress will be assessed against the NZ Curriculum through Overall Teacher Judgements (OTJ’s) and self/peer assessment to establish where that may be.
When entering our starting class, tamariki will be given a JOST test. This will give us more information about a child’s oral language skills. Once we have this information we can assess what developmental stage they may be at in regards to their literacy learning. JAM testing will be used to assess what mathematical skills and knowledge children bring with them when they start.
Learning progressions in Literacy will be gathered regularly using the following tools when needed, The Literacy Learning Progressions, Running Records, CAP, and Marie Clay tests. Numeracy progressions using the Number Framework, JAM, Gloss and IKAN. These tools will be used to provide data required in order to inform the teacher.