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Metro x ACG

Act local, think global — How ACG schools are offering an alternative path to premium education.

Metro x ACG

Aug 14, 2023 Schools

ACG schools have quickly developed a reputation for providing quality education and preparing students for success on a global scale. With a focus on Cambridge qualifications, these schools offer an internationally recognised curriculum that opens doors for students seeking higher education opportunities worldwide. And it’s working — in June, ACG Parnell was named by Crimson Education as the top school in the country for giving students the best opportunity to get accepted into internationally elite universities such as Oxford or Harvard.

Nathan Villars, Principal of ACG Sunderland, which caters to students from early childhood through to Year 13, and Board Chair of the Association of Cambridge Schools in New Zealand, says the focus on Cambridge, “is about equipping students with a curriculum that is transferable and recognised internationally. Parents and educators have confidence in a tried and true, transparent, transferable qualification. Students transferring to overseas schools or going to an overseas university don’t need to retest. For example, our top graduates can enter directly into medical programs at universities around the world. They don’t need to do an intermediate year like they would have to do in New Zealand.”

Mike McFadden, the new APAC CEO of global premium schools group Inspired, that acquired ACG in 2019, says the international curriculum, combined with Inspired’s global network of schools, enables shared learnings across schools, and unique learning opportunities for students. This includes invitation to Inspired’s international exchange programme, and global summer camps in destinations such as Milan, Madrid and San José.

“We support students to achieve their maximum potential, whatever that looks like,” he says. “For many, that is getting into a great university — whether that’s at home or abroad.”

ACG schools, with their four independent centres in Auckland and Tauranga, have cultivated their own distinct identities and characteristics over the years, which allows for different approaches depending on the community and geography in which the school exists. ACG Parnell, for example, is an urban school integrated into the surrounding environment, making use of nearby utilities like the Domain, the Auckland War Memorial Museum and nearby sports and recreational facilities. “The traditional model of the school is on a big campus with big grounds — and we have schools that have that, like ACG Sunderland in Henderson, ACG Strathallan in Karaka and ACG Tauranga — but in the middle of the city, that’s very hard to get,” says McFadden. “And there is increasing demand for high-quality schools close to the city.”

ACG also differs from many of the assumptions people have about private schools. “The traditional private school is faith-based, single-sex, and 100 years old,” says Villars. “ACG initially, was the opposite of that — no uniform, secular, and, very little sport and other extracurricular activities. However, over the years, all the ACG schools have enhanced their educational offering to include a focus on sports and the arts, and have developed their own unique character. For example, ACG Sunderland is a more traditional school, with a uniform,  and an emphasis on sport, music, drama, service, charity, and leadership.”

What all ACG schools have in common is a drive to provide a premium educational experience that prepares students for success in an increasingly interconnected world. And the results speak for themselves. Following the 2022 Cambridge examinations, ACG received the highest number of accolades compared to all other independent schools in New Zealand, with 1 out of every 3 awards in the country.

By offering the internationally recognised Cambridge curriculum, ACG schools empower students with a transferable qualification that eliminates barriers to higher education and enables seamless transitions between schools and countries. With their commitment to holistic education and a supportive environment, ACG schools strive to foster well-rounded individuals with the skills and knowledge to excel in the next step of their educational journey or career, either locally or abroad.


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Metro N°442 is Out Now.

In the Autumn 2024 issue of Metro we celebrate the best of Tāmaki Makaurau — 100 great things about life in Auckland, including our favourite florist, furniture store, cocktail, basketball court, tree, make-out spot, influencer, and psychic. The issue also includes the Metro Wine Awards, the battle over music technology company Serato, the end of The Pantograph Punch, the Billy Apple archives, a visit to Armenia, viral indie musician Lontalius, the state of fine dining, and the time we bombed West Auckland to kill a moth. Plus restaurants, movies, politics, astrology, and more.

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