Unity College New Springs, Mount Torrens campus, to test outdoor education theories

On a quiet road in the Hills, in a powder-white stone schoolhouse, an education revolution is beginning.

Two years ago, Spring Head Lutheran School was on the brink of closing; now, under the name New Springs and a new affiliation with Murray Bridge's Unity College, it is becoming a proving ground for the latest educational theories.

Beginning in 2018, the school's curriculum will revolve around holding lessons outside, in a natural setting, wherever possible.

Principal head teacher Julie Mariner said the skills that transferred into real-life situations and jobs – problem-solving, resilience, self-management – could all be learned in a nature play space.

"We learn by investigating, by hands-on activities, not by someone preaching at the front of a classroom," she said.

Unity College principal Kaye Mathwin-Cox said employers were looking for those skills over and above specific knowledge.

"Employers are saying 'we can teach the knowledge of how to do something; we want a person who is going to be a problem-solver, creative with solutions'," she said.

"That's what this school's all about.

"Don't teach kids things they can google."

Teacher aid Narelle Dunbar said children who found it difficult to sit still in a classroom were often able to focus and think more clearly outside, and that those who conflicted with others were less likely to cause friction.

"I grew up on a farm and all we did was outside," she said.

"To realise it's something that's an up-and-coming form of teaching and that other people believe in it is really exciting."

Junior students will still have a daily routine, including show and tell, reading time, devotion, relaxation, fitness and numeracy.

But as they grow older, they will be able to direct their own learning to an extent.

"Making our curriculum fold around where students' focus is and where they want to take their learning ... really encourages that engagement by students," Ms Mariner said.

"We understand each child is different and each requires different things.

"We're going to embrace the diversity of each student."

For example, when they do spend time inside, each student may choose whether to sit at a desk, on the floor, on a couch or on an exercise ball.

Parents and community members will be invited to work closely with the school, like the proverbial village it takes to raise a child.

Ms Mathwin-Cox said the environment would be another focus of the school curriculum.

"If we don't do something about our Earth ... we won't be able to sustain it," she said.

"We should be in awe of this amazing creation and use it more in our schools.

"When we can do that, we will learn to appreciate it so much that our love of the environment will make us take care of it."

Some of the ideas being tested at the school are likely to make their way to Unity College's main campus at Murray Bridge, where Ms Mathwin-Cox said several teachers shared the same passions.

A dozen people attended an information session and tour of the school on Thursday.

Enrolments at the school are due by October 20.