Academic Program and Distinctive Curriculum
At SOTE we try to make learning fun and engage the children’s interest by using a variety of teaching and learning styles. We strive to help all children become proficient at the key skills required for academic learning and this is facilitated by small class sizes and cultivation of a positive teacher-student relationship.
The School’s academic curriculum is consistent with Queensland Government and Commonwealth Government requirements and students participate in the Grade 3, 5, 7 and Year 9 NAPLAN Tests.
The School offers the following subjects at Year 11 and 12 level: English, French, German, Ancient History, Modern History, Geography, Study of Society, Mathematics A, Mathematics B, Mathematics C, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Visual Art, Music, Drama, Film, TV & New Media. All subjects are accredited with the Queensland Studies Authority.
Students graduate with a Queensland Certificate of Education and nearly all students are eligible for Tertiary Entrance.
In addition to the required curriculum, the School offers the following distinctive curriculum elements based on the program of Total Education devised and implemented by School Founder, Vijayadev Yogendra. This provides for a balance between Academic, Health and Physical, and Character Development.
The School encourages an intrinsic motivation in students as the most effective path towards excellence in their academic work. This is achieved through teachers affirming the value of concentration, finding an interest in what is being studied, self-discipline, effective study techniques and a co-operative attitude towards learning (where students don’t view each other as rivals, but as colleagues, and are encouraged to be happy for each other’s success).
Two Hours of Physical Education per Week
All students from Prep to Year 12 participate in a 15-minute Daily Physical Education Program. For students in Prep to Grade 3 this focuses on the Movement for Learning Program, which includes cross-patterning exercises and co-ordination activities which stimulate brain development.
The daily program is supplemented by a weekly sport program. Together these total over two hours per week of physical education.
All classes spend several sessions each year at the School’s Outdoor Education Centre which is set in picturesque bush land at Upper Freestone in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range. Bush walks, overnight camping, bushcraft and co-operative activities are undertaken, with the level of challenge increasing depending on the age group.
Quiet Time is for primary children and emphasises the value of spending time settling and finding a sense of quietude. Stories involving positive values are used to settle the children and are told rather than read. They then spend a few minutes with eyes closed listening to music or ambient sounds
Yoga classes are offered to secondary students from Year 9 onwards. These are conducted at the Centre For Healthy Living which is adjacent to the School. There is a good take-up of classes by students, especially in Years 11 and 12. Classes involve Yoga breathing exercises, physical practices and mental quietening. There is strong research evidence for the beneficial effects of Yoga for both adults and children, including a positive impact on many health issues such as cardiovascular problems, diabetes, obesity, respiratory problems and children’s mental and emotional well-being.
Learning About Healthy Eating
Teachers and students eat meals together every day in the School Dining Room. Twice a week the School provides a cooked lunch. This creates a positive family atmosphere and encourages habits of healthy eating. Helping with preparation of meals in the School Kitchen is an important avenue of parent contribution to the School.
Vegetable Garden and Chicken Run
Students in Years 9 and 10 look after the School Vegetable Garden which produces fresh vegetables for the School Kitchen as well as taking care of chickens whose eggs are collected for use in the kitchen. The children really enjoy contributing to the school community in this way.
Twice each term, primary students can choose from a range of activities offered by teachers through the Interest Groups Program. Each group runs for four weeks. Interest groups allow children to pursue a passion, to mix with students from other classes and to connect with a teacher who shares their interests and talent.
Film, Television and New Media
Film and Television is offered at Years 10, 11 and 12. In an increasingly screen-dominated world, this subject enables students to deconstruct what they are viewing on television, video, film and the internet by becoming more discriminating viewers. Students also create their own video productions which allow them to express their critical and creative ideas.
The Time Out Program is conducted in the second semester of Year 7 and the first semester of Year 8. Students cover their core academic program on four mornings of the week. The afternoons are spent on student-directed activities which provides them with more choice and encourages responsibility for their own learning. Other teachers and community mentors supplement the class teacher’s skills. A weekly excursion gives students a broad-based experience with alternate visits to city based sites and national parks and other nature-based destinations. There are also two camps during the year which give the students an extended outdoor education program.
Special Days facilitate a whole-school focus on a particular topic. In the few weeks leading up to the Special Day, students study topics around the chosen theme and prepare activities for the Special Day. Special Days often extend into the evening, with parents sharing a meal and enjoying the outcomes of the children’s studies. Some recent special days included Chindia Day and Europe Day.
The School’s approach to academic education provides graduates with diverse skills and the assurance that learning will continue throughout their lives.