The School of Total Education, Warwick, Queensland, Australia


photo: Shane Power

Welcome to our first email newsletter for 2012, and my first in the role as Principal.

In term one of this year I attended two seminars, one on the implementation of the Australian Curriculum, and the other a School Leadership Forum hosted by the University of Queensland. At both events, I was struck by the interest in our School from the other participants. For some, that a school such as ours exists was hardly believable.

It was refreshing to see the interest and openness of other School leaders to what we are doing. There is always particular interest in our parents program. One school would like to follow up and visit the School to see and learn how our parents program operates. We are co-ordinating this interest through the Institute of Total Education.

Professor Ken Wiltshire spoke at the leadership forum on the qualities of good leaders, especially humility and forgiveness, and of the need for values and trust. It was good to hear an academic speaking in such a grounded and practical way. So much of what he said resonated with the School’s principles and I am hoping he will visit the School sometime.

This term I also accompanied past principal Richard Waters, in his capacity as Director of the Institute of Total Education, to a meeting with Associate Professor Dorothy Andrews, Director of the Leadership Research Institute at the University of Southern Queensland. Associate Professor Andrews is interested in holding a meeting of the Darling Downs Chapter of the Australian Council of Education Leaders at the School of Total Education with a view to its members seeing it first hand.

Such events are part of our vision to open up Total Education to the broader educational community.

We welcome your feedback or reflections on what you read here via email at

Shane Power


Working Together: Neil Rasmussen

At the teachers seminar at the start of this year, senior art teacher Neil Rasmussen led a workshop on “Working together to Find a Solution for a Child”. Collaboration between teachers to address the well-being of all the children is an important feature of the school. Neil shared his thoughts and experience based on his many years teaching at SOTE. “Because as a student experienced success in one area, it gave them the confidence to move on to other areas, especially if teachers operated as a group to foster this growth. I have observed this growth many times in my teaching here.” Read more…

Working Together: Judy Currie

Deputy Principal, Judy Currie, also spoke on the topic of “Working together to Find a Solution for a Child” at the teachers seminar. “There are three equally important partners in Total Education – students, parents and teachers. It is essential that there is open and harmonious communication between the three. The parts that we, as teachers, have responsibility for are our relationship with the students and our relationship with the parents.”. Read more…

From the Archives: The Qualities of a Responsible Teacher

Dr Anne Silcock was a senior lecturer in Education at the University of Queensland and a regular contributor to Australian journals, writing about early childhood education, parenting and pre-school programmes. She participated in a number of educational events connected with the School of Total Education during the early 1980s. This article was originally published in 1981. “In the interests of sound educational experiences for all school children, it seems to be imperative that in-service courses for teachers and institutes of higher learning focus their attention on fostering and enhancing the personal, as well as the professional development of the teachers who come within their spheres of influence.” Read more…

Interviews currently available:

Michael Funder — Reflections of a SOTE Teacher

Satish Kumar — Small Schools and Nurturing the Spirit in Education

Click here to read more and download the interviews.


Bush Day Celebrates Australian Bush Culture

Once a year the School allocates a special day to celebrate a particular theme — this year it was “Bush Day”. These special days involve the whole school community — students, teachers and parents. Children participate in a variety of activities, with younger and older children often sharing the same activity.

image: Bush Day photos

This year we were honoured to have well-known indigenous musician and Gomeroi Elder, Mr Roger Knox, perform at Bush Day. Mr Knox also conducted a series of workshops explaining aspects of Aboriginal culture and music to the children. SOTE teacher, Sharman Parsons, mesmerised the audience with her dance representing the Cicada Spirit.

Institute of Total Education Established

Former SOTE Principal, Richard Waters, has taken up the role of Director at the recently established Institute of Total Education. Richard’s passion for the future of education in Australia is to see a community of teachers and educational leaders who are focused on an integrated view of education. The Institute is offering consultancy services in areas which include: teacher support and growth, student well-being and parent education. The Institute’s website can be found at

Education the Finnish Way

Lateline on ABC television recently featured an interview with Pasi Sahlberg, Director-General of the Ministry of Education in Helsinki. The interview focusses on a number of important differences between the Finnish education system and that in Australia. In particular Mr Sahlberg mentioned the importance of a culture of cooperation, which is also a core principle in Total Education. “…in all of these countries that you mentioned, the policies are built on the idea that competition will ultimately improve the quality of teaching. In Finland we don’t have these policies. We believe that cooperation and networking and sharing are the important things to make sure that everybody will be able to improve and do things better.” A video and transcript of the interview with Pasi Sahlberg can be found on the ABC Lateline website.

Some of the available books on our website

Books Available On Our Website

A range of books on Total Education and related topics can be purchased from the SOTE website. Click here to find out more.