SOTE principal Richard Waters has been in his position since the school’s birth 30 years ago.
SOTE principal Richard Waters has been in his position since the school’s birth 30 years ago.

Educating kids takes commitment

A GROUP of young students scurries past Richard Waters as he makes his way to the art building.

As they overtake, the school principal bids hello to all four boys, naming each one without hesitation – but with 30 years of experience up his sleeve, it may come as no surprise.

This year marks the 30th anniversary since the arrival of the School of Total Education, along with the greater Total Health and Education foundation.

Mr Waters arrived from Melbourne with the foundation in February 1981 to establish the school in Warwick.

The ethos of the school is a forward-thinking, holistic one, which develops each student in the areas of sport, character-building and family relations as well as academia.

Mr Waters said the school employed many methods to nurture the development of each student.

“Our focus is on total education.

"One of the ways we do that is by having small classes,” he explained.

“The maximum number we have in each class is 13 students.

"We’re a small-scale institution and it means each student has individual attention from teachers.

“A lot of problems can come from being in larger groups – a lot of it starts from students just wanting more attention.”

This, Mr Waters pointed out, is reflected in the outstanding academic record and OP results.

Teachers at SOTE are also given additional training as how to best facilitate the learning for each student.

Parents of the students are also heavily involved in the students’ education, through a weekly parent program.

“We recognise that parents need support in parenting and with directing their children,” Mr Waters said.

“Each week we have a small group meeting to reflect on that and to hear guest speakers such as doctors or psychologists.”

Each year, the Year 12 students also make a presentation to the group of parents on an issue close to their heart. This year’s presentation was about freedom and negotiating it within the home.

The school also takes into account each student’s diet and physical well-being, and encourages healthy eating and regular activity.

Mr Waters said skills taught at the school were what students would take with them when they became young adults.

“We look at long-term development of each child and what they will carry with them to become good citizens,” he said.

This week we investigate the arrival of the Total Health and Education Foundation to Warwick and how it has changed the region.

School of Total Education

Some of the ways SOTE differs from conventional schools:

Class size: numbers in each class don’t exceed 13.

Involvement of parents: the school hosts a parents’ program each week to support families.

Training teachers: staff are taught how to support students.

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