Australian Celi and Briton Huw are experienced teachers who have taught in countries around the world, including Australia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania,China and of course, Thailand.
Huw explains that the opening of their very own school was something they had ‘always’ wanted to do.
“Celi always had this idea, so it was just a case of finding the right location and where we wanted to live.”
Huw jokes that when four soi dogs adopted them, that was it – they were now Phuket-based.
Despite only really ‘seriously’ looking into opening a school inearly 2013, there are already 11 students enrolled and they have begun daily classes in a large converted house in Thalang district.
“We encourage children to be creative thinkers and follow their passions,” says Huw of the school’s curriculum, adding, “ We use an inquiry approach to learning, based on the Kath Murdoch Inquiry cycle.”
As part of GECKO’s (Green Education Community Kids Outdoors) unique and community-based approach to education and learning, a large part of the learning will take place outdoors and within the community.
As such, Friday is ‘community day’ at GECKO, and every week students will take part in field trips in and around the area, to learn more about their environment and strengthen relationships.
“We are tying to create a community school here. We are not doing it to create an empire or anything like that. We want to stay relatively small and want to keep it at maximum around 30 students.”
“We’re a not-for-profit school,” continues Huw, “which means that the money we generate – apart from the salaries – will be put back into the school.”
GECKO has also formed a link with Oasis Ed, which will be offering workshops and courses at the school for the north part of the island.
In the near future GECKO will also double up as a community centre, which will benefit the local Thai children by offering English, sport and art classes after school hours.
It is for this reason that Huw believes that GECKO school is different enough to be able to survive and even thrive on an island that already has a large number of bigger international schools.
“We don’t really see it as competition, we see it as we’re offering something different. We’re not in the same price bracket. We’re a little niche market where we’re offering quality education at affordable prices in a nice, convenient area.”
For more information, visit: 117/4 Ban Reang Road, Thalang, Phuket, 83110, geckoschool.org, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 085-477-2491.