The Whole Life Education Centre, the legal umbrella organization, was founded in 1994. Its main goal was and is to provide and encourage holistic and empowering education for children and adults. This education must have academic, artistic and practical elements and foster an ecological awareness.
"To strive to offer a fully rounded empowering education that helps individuals reach their full potential and which actively strives to overcome differences to build bridges, to develop confidence and to provide the skills and values necessary to contribute to a harmonious co-existence and a sustainable future."
At the inception it was projected that the WLEC would have the following facilities: a primary school, a high school, a bus, a hostel, community activities and small businesses.
The primary school – McGregor Waldorf school – is the first branch that was developed. The school uses a curriculum based on the educational principles of Rudolf Steiner and educates children from 3 to 12 years old.
The school was the dream of Briar Pastoll since 1972. When visiting McGregor she met a mother of three children living here who had the same dream about education. It would be artistic education, freeing the child’s inner creativity, bringing about innovative thinking and doing. It would be infused with warmth and compassion. It would be a practical education, giving the children the tools necessary for constructive living. It would boost the child’s self-esteem through work he or she had created. It would enable a child’s thinking to be ‘warmed’ through the experience of the artistic and practical, developing the child’s ability to solve problems creatively, constructively and humanely. It would be a social education, bringing together children from different cultures, races and economic strata, in order to help create foundations to healthy co-operation, so essential to the future of our country.
After Briar finished her studies as Waldorf teacher, the McGregor Waldorf School, the first of the projected branches, was started in 1994, with a donation of R10 000 and an enormous amount of trust and faith. It had seventeen children in combined classes One to Six. Two years later, in 1996, a lady from England was inspired by the project and decided there and then to buy a school building, provide sponsorships for 10 children and cover the running costs for 5 years.
In 2000 the school had grown to 72 pupils from playgroup to class 9. There was Aftercare and a bus to fetch the children from the surrounding farms. A distance-learning program to train Waldorf Teachers, with ten participants, provided opportunities for members of the local community to advance in ways that would otherwise have been impossible. A community activities project offered craft programs and end-of-term festivals to local farm schools, as well as a holiday program to the youth of the village. The high school was started in 2001 and the school welcomed the first hostel students in January 2004.
Since then students graduated, number of students grew and teachers and staff are constantly working towards a deepening of our understanding of our children and education, a widening of our network and a sustainable future for our school.