Local Time

Tuesday, 20th February 2018: 1:52am

Palmerston Lucky School

At the beginning of 2001, Ps Tere Marsters was appointed Principal and introduced the ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) programme, which is an international programme originating from America, but the Australian and New Zealand version material is purchased for the School.  This programme enables each child to work at their own level in each subject – Maths, English, Science, Social Studies and Word Building (Spelling). 
Besides teaching the academic material the programme also emphasizes values and attributes which are important in life.  At the end of 2001 the programme was discontinued and then reintroduced again in 2004 when Yvonne Marsters was appointed Principal until today.

The programme is very appropriate considering the multi-level situation, and all the students – current roll is 25 – are fluent readers, proficient in Maths and Spelling, and daily pursue their desire to learn, gain knowledge and skills for life.  The oldest student is 18 and the youngest 5 years.  Attendance is regular by all students, and times and routines are strictly followed.

Over the years we have adjusted and streamlined the programme to suit the needs of the Island and students, while at the same time being careful to meet the requirements of the Ministry of Education and ACE programme guidelines.  While the morning programme focuses on the curriculum, the afternoon programme is geared towards extra-curricular activity.  Craft, Cook Islands Maori, art, health, Cook Islands Social Studies, music, dancing, carving, sewing, agriculture, PE, sport, are all subjects that have been undertaken in the afternoons. 

Yvonne, who is married to Ps Tere, who was until recently the Island Secretary, is a NZ state-trained and qualified secondary teacher and has been teaching in New Zealand, Rarotonga and Melbourne Australia, at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels as well as being Curriculum Adviser for Commerce with the Ministry of Education in the Cook Islands for five years.  She has been working closely with local staff, five of whom have now completed the ACE monitors training.

The goal has been that the school is not dependent on overseas teachers being able to come to Palmerston, and therefore when they leave the school is closed.  Now, whenever Yvonne leaves the Island (which can be for up to three months depending on the frequency of the boat) the school continues under the capable leadership of Marama or Nano Marsters. 


Although Yvonne is the only trained teacher, currently there are two other full-time teachers aides - Nano who works with the four new entrants and Rose, who is from England, daughter of Commander Clarke who was shipped wrecked on Palmerston in the 1950s, works with a special needs child.  Rose is planning to be in Palmerston for at least four years.  There are also two other part-time teacher aides who assist with the programme.  Each day one parent comes into the school on a voluntary basis to listen to the children's reading.

The long-term vision of the school, which is administered by the Palmerston Island Administration, is to take a child from 3 to 17 and see them complete all their secondary education on Palmerston.  The ACE programme continues up to Year 13 (Form 7) and the Certification is recognized in Universities and Institutions of higher learning throughout New Zealand.  So far we have had two students complete Year 9 Certificate, two students complete Year 11 Certificate and one student is currently working to complete Year 12.  She is planning to continue on to University in 2014.

Over the years Yvonne has also run Adult training programmes at night and two adult students have completed the NZQA Business and Computing (Level 2) Certificate on the Island.