This year Hauroko Valley Primary School has expanded to offer Year 7 and 8 schooling. Its new students will be embarking on what principal Glenn Puna says is a fresh and exciting curriculum aimed to prepare them for Year 9 and beyond.
Mr Puna said the road to expanding the primary school to Year 7 and 8 had been 18 months in the making. It kicked off with a survey sent to parents in the community, and he said the feedback was clear that Western Southland parents wanted the option of having a full primary school available to them.
After what Mr Puna said was a "full-on" consultation and review from the Ministry of Education, he got word that the school got the green light to expand in October.
The curriculum would be focused on giving the students the critical thinking and communication skills important for Year 9 and beyond.
"The Year 7/8 curriculum's quite heavily based on communication," Mr Puna said. "It's at that age where they need to be able to start to communicate with adults."
As one part of a project-based learning initiative, students would be developing a tourism package revolving around Clifden Caves. The aim was that they'd touch on a wide range of subjects, such as developing promotional videos using GoPros and publishing pamphlets to learning financial literacy and developing relationships with larger institutions such as the Southland District Council.
Given the geographical isolation of the school, he said the school was focused on providing outdoor opportunities that might be further away, and giving the students the skills to pursue their own interests.