[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]See Obituary here
Canterbury Steiner School Class 11 students (16 years old) are staging a charity benefit concert on Friday 6th November 2015 in the schools theatre.
The acts are drawn from the schools own pupils and teachers as well as local musicians. All proceeds will go to the Catching Lives charity.
The youngsters wanted to support a local charity and Catching Lives does valuable work with those who are affected by homelessness.
“We are a school that prides itself on nurturing a caring spirit in our pupils”, commented Mr Ewout Van-Manen School Leader, “Our students really want to contribute to society and this concert is real evidence of that”.
Doors open at 6:45 for 7pm start and all are welcome.
Press Contact: Martyn Nicholls
Mobile: 07583 015373
Tel: 01227 738285
Canterbury Steiner School, Garlinge Green, Chartham, Canterbury, Kent. CT4 5RU
Canterbury Steiner School, founded in 1976 and set in the beautiful Kent downs, is an independent co-educational school for children aged (3 to 16). We believe that childhood is the most important time of our lives. The experiences, feelings and education of our formative years will greatly colour and shape the adults we go on to become and the part we play in the world.
The proven and established Steiner Waldorf approach, one of the fastest growing educational systems in the world, is based on the simple but profound insight that each child is unique and that they learn in different ways at different stages of their development.
For forty years Canterbury has focused on enhancing each individual child’s strengths with a rich, creative curriculum that carefully meets the growing child’s developmental needs and engenders a passion for lifelong learning. Our primary task is to provide an environment and education that will allow our pupils to become creative, responsible and confident adults who are more than equipped to face the many challenges of life.
Congratulations to Jago Brett and Theo Macdonald (Class 10) who won an national computer coding competition organised by Young Rewired State. They took part in a week long “Coding Camp” earlier in the summer and, with 2 other Bristol boys, designed and coded an app to help people follow their favourite bands and meet up with other fans at different festivals. (Possibly inspired by spending the previous weekend getting extremely wet at WOMAD!) At the end of the week 160 teams from across the country came together at Birmingham University to present their work for judgement by industry and academic leaders. The Bristol team won the award for Best Written Code, receiving £70 each of computer equipment and the chance to develop their app for sale. Well done Theo and Jago!
Congratulations to Kings Langley student who is amongst the winners of Physicist of the Year. see news item here
Our innovative Trainee Teacher Scheme won us an Education Business Award yesterday. Ruth Beachim and Ben Arnold received the award at a prestigious ceremony in London. We were one of three schools shortlisted in the UK and received praise for our forward thinking approach to recruitment and specifically Teacher Training. Photos and more information will be posted on the website soon!
see press coverage here
York Class 4 Teacher, Fiona Dudley, has won a Silver Plato Award for ‘Teacher of the Year in a Primary School’.
Fiona is now invited to the House of Commons to attend a celebratory tea hosted by Alok Sharma MP. This event will be held on Thursday 2nd July from 4 pm.
Fiona will also join fellow Silver Award winners at the UK final of the Teaching Awards to be held at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden on 18th October, where 10 Silver Award winners will receive a Gold Plato Award. The ceremony, titled “Britain’s Classroom Heroes”, will be filmed and broadcast by the BBC as a showcase of excellence in education.
Fiona’s achievement reflects the diversity and quality of education provision within York. Our school is also a true community school, established by parents over 30 years ago and committed to offering Steiner education to all those who wish it for their children
Elmfield Shortlisted Again!
Elmfield has been shortlisted for another national education award, for the fifth time in three years. This time, we were shortlisted for the 2015 Education Business Awards. The judges were extremely impressed with our unique Trainee Teacher Scheme. Since 2013, we’ve been searching for a select few individuals who we think show huge potential to become inspiring Waldorf teachers. After shortlisting and several days of assessments, we selected 3 out of over 100 hopefuls and we’re now sponsoring their Waldorf teacher training. We are generating a supply of talented Steiner teachers.
We were also nominated for most improved independent school. Watch this space…
By Somerset Standard | Posted: May 08, 2015
Residents living in Longleat Court apartments, in Park Road, Frome were invited to a tea party by the Steiner Academy to say a big thank you for their patience during the construction of the new school.
The academy said it had been a trying time for the 48 residents who live opposite the former Victoria Hospital site since construction began.
Kier Construction project managers Spencer Cox and Rob James showed the visitors the renovated ground floor of Victoria House and the new Craft Centre and Eurythmy Hall, before leading them into the Main Hall for a cream tea.
The school’s Principal, Trevor Mepham, gave a brief talk, thanking the residents for their forbearance.
Development manager of Longleat Court, Jane Thorp, said: “It is great to see the wonderful buildings that have emerged from the site over the past 18 months. We wish the staff and students a successful and enjoyable time in their new home and look forward to continued links with the school as it grows.”
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Taste the Teeming Earth
The journey of Steiner Academy Hereford’s Justice Team as runners-up in the National Final of the Citizenship Foundation’s Bar Mock Trial Competition, Edinburgh, March 2015.
“There is a commerce between inner and outer, between brightness and shadow, between the world and those who think about the world. Is it not a mystery? The parts cohere, they come together like petals of a flower, yet they also send their tongues outward to feel and taste the teeming earth. Did you want classic columns and predictable pediments?”
Lines from “Open the doors” by Ewin Morgan, Scots Makar, written for the Opening of the Scottish Parliament, 2004.
As the Justice Team journeyed to Edinburgh at the end of March it was perhaps unforeseen moments that framed the students’ experience the most. The ‘nooks and niches’ of Scots Makar Edwin Morgan’s declamation to the Scottish Parliament in 2004 echoed these unforeseen moments, these unusual treasures. Our erudite guide to Holyrood had explained the vision of its architecture as leaves unfolding from a branch, boats atop a wave. Having arrived in Edinburgh a day before the competition, and not due at the Central Library for a final practice until that afternoon, the team ventured down Cowgate rather than the Royal Mile on their way to Parliament. Morgan had described that journey as going towards the ‘midst of things, not set up on a hill with your nose in the air.’ And such a journey reflected the strange social ecology of the Steiner team, no head boy or girl, no uniform, no hundreds of students from which to draw.
The team had participated in the Magistrates Court Mock Trial competition last year, making it only to the regional heats. They had now won through to the national final of the Bar Mock Trial competition back in November 2014 by winning the regional heat at Queen Elisabeth Courts in Birmingham. Barrister Emma Edhem had broadened the team’s perspectives at that point by tracing a path from criminal law to international law and the dance of nations it tended. Such broadening of perspective is the central dynamic of this competition, amidst the minutiae of legal wrangling and the hierarchies of league rankings. Teamwork, public speaking, analysis. All of the judges in Edinburgh offered this richness of experience in their presence, their conducting of business, and their summings up. To hear the wisdom of Leveson, Kerrigan, McConnachie, and Rae in person was perhaps one of the most potent niches of the team’s days in Edinburgh.
Lord Justice Leveson was surprised to hear that the team hailed from a small, single stream school, and that the students were rising 15s. Most of the teams from the other 186 schools who had entered the competition were rising 17s and 18s. Throughout the competition there was both high drama and serious legal wrestling with issues and evidence. In the grand final itself, the principal witness’s credibility was brought into question due to the humble nature surrounding the circumstances of their birth, (they were raised in a woodland). Our collective understanding of justice clearly has some way to go if the word of a dweller automatically holds more credibility in a court of law. Maybe it is no accident that this team had also been drawn to the recent lecture in Hereford by the international barrister Polly Higgins. In her campaign for instituting ecocide as a 5th crime against peace, she cites the possession of land as one of the principal wrong turns of our civilization in its capacity to fulfill a meaningful role as stewards of the Earth.
Steiner Academy Herford’s Justice Team with (L-R): Robert “Judge” Rinder, Rt Hon Lord Justice Leveson, The Hon Lady Rae, and Mr Mark Mulholland QC.
The choice of ITVs Judge Rinder to present the prizes was a great opportunity to expand the appeal of the competition, but may also have been a signal that theatricality was a high value commodity on the day. It is also no accident that a reduced exposure to television within the wider community of a Steiner school meant that the team itself was more aware of Lord Justice Leveson. He took time with the Hereford students to congratulate them on the tenor of their participation and the sophistication of their advocacy, urging Alex Murdock and Louie Ablett, the advocates he saw in the final, to pursue legal careers.
As finalists of this UK competition, the Steiner team are eligible for the Empire Mock Trial world championship in New York in October, but such a prospect is beyond the financial prospects of a rural state school, as well as the challenges of undertaking such a journey within the final GCSE year of the class. But to journey to the seat of the UN . . . . to engage with international contenders . . . and to represent Hereford on a global stage . . . I’m sure the students would enjoy any attempts at persuasion. It may be that it is within a later stage of their education that student competitions at the International Courts in Europe enable their burgeoning visions for ecology, social justice and true international security, to then bear fruit. And again, in the words of Edwin Morgan, that bold mandate from the teeming earth might yet speak to them: “Don’t let your work and hope be other than great.”
see design here
Designed by Julie Ruse, Michael Hall School
IN MEMORY OF MARCELLE MACPHERSON
12th March 1936 to 18th February 2015
“The first word that comes to mind when thinking about Marcelle is devotion. In all she did her whole heart and soul was engaged”. This memory was written by Diana Reynolds who was a kindergarten teacher at Kings Langley when Marcelle founded and pioneered the independent St Albans kindergarten in the Fleetville community centre, Hertfordshire in 1981, and which is still thriving today. The following history and tributes to Marcelle were written by many who knew her, including more from Diana Reynolds, and Zanna Millicheap, who has carried the St Albans kindergarten since Marcelle retired. Many were included in the programme at her funeral:
St Albans was a lone outpost of Steiner Education, the then ‘New School’ (now Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley) being 8 miles away. Marcelle was a valuable member of the College of Teachers, and an active parent as her five children moved through the school. I know how grateful she was to have been able to fulfil her dream and bring her family to Kings Langley, and later to become a Kindergarten teacher. After retiring she continued contributing to Steiner Education as an early childhood advisor with the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship. She also lectured widely and visited Japan to help set up a Kindergarten there. Her strength was in her warmth and caring qualities, her ability to listen, and in her understanding and compassion. She was steadfast and above all persevering. After a long battle with cancer Marcelle died at home surrounded by her family. She knew how to love, and will be dearly remembered by her colleagues and friends, her family and twelve grandchildren”.
“Marcelle was the impetus and driving force behind the creation of the St Albans Steiner kindergarten in 1981. Through her gentle determination, she helped to bring the kindergarten to life, from an idea, into its physical form and with its spiritual values”. “Marcelle laid down strong and healthy roots, which run through and affect all that we do. She was determined that the kindergarten would be community-based, multi-cultural, affordable and inclusive to all. She was committed to the concept that the kindergarten should be part of the local community”. “Marcelle was always willing to learn and grow as a person in many aspects of life but especially with regard to Anthroposophy. This she brought to the kindergarten in her being and it permeated through all that she did”. “Marcelle had the ability to paint pictures with her words which gave a unique quality to them. Not only for the children at story time but for adults as well”.
“Marcelle had a motherly nature and her love and enjoyment of children naturally drew them to her. She would carry the child in her heart; this was seen by all at kindergarten. She had endless patience and an ability to enter into the children’s world. She introduced so many people to Anthroposophy, and the wonders of Steiner education. She was able to open up a world that so many people were not aware of or knew about”. “She planted a little spiritual seed in people who came towards her – and many did from all walks of life, with her nurturing, compassionate warmth, generosity, and humour”. “Marcelle became the confidant for many. She accepted all and never made judgements. She touched so many people’s lives and hearts”. “Marcelle inspired us all – and gave us a gentle quiet confidence in the face of challenges.
She said of her work with children “Kindergarten provides a brief interlude before children go their separate ways. During this time they can dream a little longer, and experience the joys of creative play enhanced by the natural things around them”. Marcelle believed that this was an all-important preparation for a life in which each human being strives for something higher. She said, “The spirit in man is striving to find the spirit in the universe, which in time unites us all”.
For my own part, I remember Marcelle visiting our budding Rosebridge kindergarten in Cambridge, where her wonderful talk to our community helped give us the inspiration to grow the kindergarten which developed into the Cambridge Steiner School.
Founder kindergarten teacher at Cambridge Steiner School, now Early Childhood Executive Officer for the SWSF.
Extracts quoted from ‘The Kindergarten in the Community’, by Marcelle Macphearson, in Child and Man: Education as an Art, Journal for Waldorf Education. (July 1991), Vol 25 No2.
Celebrate Screen-Free Week: May 4 – 10 The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship is proud, once again, to officially endorse Screen-Free Week (May 4 – 10), the annual celebration when children, families, schools, and communities around the world unplug from digital entertainment and spend their free time playing, reading, daydreaming, creating, exploring, and connecting with family and friends. We all know that digital entertainment dominates the lives of far too many children, displacing all sorts of beneficial activities. And screen time can be habit-forming. Kids who spend less time with screens eat healthier, do better in school, fall asleep faster, get more exercise, and spend more time with their families. And, screens are the primary way that corporations target children, exposing them to harmful marketing.
The Steiner Waldorf approach has always encouraged the families who attend our schools and kindergartens to go screen free as much as possible, allowing children instead to develop their creativity, imagination and spend more time in play, indoors and out. For everything you’ll need—including event listings and free resources—visit www.screenfree.org.
Save Childhood Movement Press Release
National Children’s Day UK (NCDUK) Sunday May 17th 2015 – www.nationalchildrensdayuk.com Brains Love Play for National Children’s Day UK!
National Children’s Day UK 2015 (NCDUK2015) wants everyone to celebrate the Science and Magic of Play National Children’s Day UK provides a platform for raising awareness about children’s rights – and adopts a different theme each year in order to engage as many people as possible and to promote the work of organisations already working in the field. NCDUK2015 is all about how important play is for learning and creativity – and for the kind of skills that we need in a 21st century world. Over the last few decades a variety of factors have significantly reduced children’s ability to play, including changes in family structure, a more hurried lifestyle, a more risk-averse society and an increased focus on academic attainment (1).
Through the academic pressures of the educational system, play has also been increasingly undervalued rather than being seen as essential to children’s social skills, creativity and on-going learning (2).
The current state of childhood in the UK is troubling: 1 in 10 children and young people aged 5 – 16 currently have a diagnosable mental health disorder (3). 1 in 12 children and 1 in 15 young people deliberately self-harm (4). About 35,000 children in England are being prescribed anti-depressants (5). Among teenagers, rates of depression and anxiety have increased by 70% in the past 25 years (6). And it is not only child heath and wellbeing that is aversely affected by the increasing exclusion of play from children’s lives. Playful and innovative thinking is essential for a 21st century business world. A 2010 study by IBM of 5000 Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) across 60 countries and 33 industries found that creativity was selected as the “most crucial factor for future success” (7). Wendy Ellyatt, CEO of Save Childhood Movement, said:
“Childhood is changing fast. From the impact of screen technology to the restrictions of an increasingly risk-averse culture and the downward pressures of the schooling system, children’s rights and freedoms are being eroded and their opportunities for free play have been drastically reduced. In the lead-up to National Children’s Day UK 2015 we want to remind everyone just how essential play and playfulness is to human creativity and wellbeing.”
Ms Ellyatt continued:
“This is a situation that is having a profound impact, not only on the wellbeing of children, but on the risk-taking, creativity and ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking that is so essential in a 21st century world.” The City of Bath has become a strategic partner for the day and will be including it in its four-day Forest of Imagination event. Penny Hay, Director of Research for 5x5x5=creativity and Senior Lecturer in Arts Education at Bath Spa University, commented:
”We want to engage everybody in a conversation about the importance of creativity, imagination and play in all of our lives”
In preparation for NCDUK2015 the movement has launched a “Play Champions’ initiative to identify settings that are examples of great play practice (8) together with three competitions (9). It is also exploring the idea of ‘Play Selfies’ where experts and celebrities are asked to record short videos of themselves talking about why play and playfulness matters so much for both children and adults (10). Everyone is being invited to join in the fun and celebrations on the day to help put play and playfulness back at the centre of creativity.
The conversation about the science and magic of play will continue on social media #NCDUK2015
For more information, please contact
Sandra Lipner, Project Lead, National Children’s Day UK e: firstname.lastname@example.org m: 07866 479 913 www.nationalchildrensdayuk.com
NOTES TO EDITORS
National Children’s Day UK is an initiative of the Save Childhood Movement – www.savechildhood.net. The movement was established in 2013 and consists of a growing collaboration of individuals and organisations that share a deep concern about societal values and wellbeing and the current erosion of natural childhood.
The initiative has just received an ‘Awards for All’ Big Lottery grant to help further develop the concept, and is actively looking for national funders and sponsors. The Big Lottery Fund is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery. The Fund is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since its inception in 2004 we have awarded close to £6bn.The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
The Day has already attracted many sponsors and supporters including: Learning through Landscapes, Community Playthings, Opal Outdoor Learning and Play, The Land Project, Play Wales, IPA Scotland, Pop-Up Adventure Play, Playing Out, The University of Sheffield Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth, Leeds Trinity University, The Wild Network, BEAR nibbles, Earth Wrights, Siren Films, Harry & Jacks, Francis Lincoln Publishers, 5x5x5=creativity and Forest of Imagination.
The city of Bath will be incorporating NCDUK2015 in their own 4 day Forest of Imagination event with Queens Square becoming a centre for imagination and creativity www.forestofimagination.com
The day has the backing of many experts in the field, including American psychologists and best selling authors Peter Gray (11) and David Elkind (12) together with Cambridge developmental psychologist Dr David Whitebread (13) and Dr Pam Jarvis (14).
Play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child (Article 31). It is vital for the enjoyment of childhood as well as children’s social, emotional, intellectual and physical development.
The role of informal play-based education has been increasingly downgraded in English educational policymaking. For many children today, nursery education provides their only opportunity for active, creative, play (including outdoor play) which is recognised by psychologists as vital for physical, social, emotional and cognitive development.
For more evidence on the diminishing role of play please see SCM and Too Much Too Soon websites https://www.savechildhood.net/the-vital-role-of-play.html https://www.toomuchtoosoon.org/play.html
(1) Josie Gleave and Issy Cole-Hamilton, A World without Play Literature Review, Play England, rev. ed. 2012. https://www.playengland.org.uk/media/371031/a-world-without-play-literature-review-2012.pdf
(2) Edward Miller and Joan Almon, Crisis in the Kindergarten, Alliance for Childhood, 2009. https://www.allianceforchildhood.org/sites/allianceforchildhood.org/files/file/kindergarten_report.pdf
(3) Office of National Statistics, Mental health of children and young people in Great Britain, 2004.
(4) The Lancet, Vol. 379 (2012), Issue 9812, pp.236–243.
(5) Chief Medical Officer, At Least 5 a week: Evidence on the Impact of Physical Activity and its Relationship to Health, Department of Health, 2004.
(6) Ed Halliwell, Liz Main and Celia Richardson, Fundamental Facts, Mental Health Foundation, 2007. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/content/assets/PDF/publications/fundamental_facts_2007.pdf?view=Standard
(7) IBM Global CEO Study, 2012. https://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/31670.wss
(8) Play Champions are settings that demonstrate excellence in play practice where children are encouraged to engage their natural curiosity and creativity without the need for pre-determined outcomes.
(9) https://www.nationalchildrensdayuk.com/competitions.html (10) https://www.nationalchildrensdayuk.com/play-selfies.html
In Memory: Georg Locher
News came through to us yesterday (15th December) of the death of Georg Locher, whose funeral takes place on Friday 19th. Many will know Georg from his lectures & workshops at Easter conferences, his teaching on the Emerson Education Course & his 25 years as Class, Upper School & religion teacher at Michael Hall. After leaving Emerson to “a younger generation”, he joined the SWAS advisory team & visited a number of schools in addition to his regular trips to USA, where he mentored class teachers & made contributions to the Antioch University & Toronto Rudolf Steiner Centre programmes, always travelling with his trusty cello & giving well-prepared, but impromptu concerts.
Born in Zurich, where the Locher family owned substantial property, & a graduate of the Waldorf School he studied music at the Zurich Conservatoire & could have become a professional cellist, but chose instead to come to Britain where he trained as a Waldorf teacher & remained. Unusually, perhaps, his sense for the visual arts was as keen as his ear for music & he had a fine collection of paintings in his house about which he would speak engagingly. As anyone who has ever had tea with Georg must know, the house he shared with his wife Angela, was one in which a modest refinement & quiet elegance prevailed in everything. Although born in Switzerland, there was something of the best of Britishness in all this, a practical art that was unforced, warm & open.
Georg was a person of quiet enthusiasm. Often he would introduce into discussion a recent book he had found relevant to the topic in hand. He was always reading something new & did not confine his reading to Anthroposophical authors. Perhaps balance is the key to Georg’s being. He often spoke of this is relation to teaching, exploring the polarities & finding the creative equipoise within them: Apollonian & Dionysian, Demeter & Persephone, “coming forth” & holding back”, form & freedom…His speaking voice too carried that message, a warm, expressive baritone. He had a gently self-deprecating humour usually accompanied by a soft smile around his eyes; announcing once during a lecture at a teacher’s conference, “As a young teacher I sometimes envied Pestalozzi – after all he taught orphans”, before going on to scold himself about how wrong he had been not to pay more heed to the parent’s role: his regard & care for others was strong. It was in the same the lecture that he also gave what for me is the best & most straight-forward statement of the qualities needed by a teacher, someone who must work to be:
Loveable for the children
Approachable for the parents
Mentor-able by colleagues
His legacy will certainly live on with many of us as he leaves this phase of life for the one beyond us.
Kevin Avison 17/12/2014
Elaborated Codes and Social Renewal
Paul Hougham, November 2014
Steiner Academy Hereford Class IX Justice Club Team, Saturday 29th November 2014 at St Phillips Chambers, Birmingham, with Barrister mentor Simon Ward (centre), before their winning day at the Citizenship Foundation’s regional heat of the Bar Mock Trial Competition at Queen Elizabeth II Crown Court.
The Citizenship Foundation’s mock trial competitions facilitate a significant scale of progress and insight for participating students. This progress is crucially enabled by the support of professionals who step in and help students see a bigger world; Simon Ward, the team’s barrister mentor from St Phillips Chambers, and Martin Wilks, a school parent and trained barrister now working as a legal adjudicator specialising in housing law, were central to Steiner Academy Hereford team’s experience. Project based work is always more engaging and effective for students’ learning than more evenly spread content driven curricula. But there are also broader implications of this kind of project, where routes into self-expression and possible futures are tended with care.
“Perpetrator, legitimate, array, presumption, corroborate” were just some of words in the extensive range of vocabulary that this particular group of students stepped into. Just one week earlier I had sat with one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMIs) from Ofsted discussing Bernstein’s principles of ‘elaborated’ and ‘restricted’ codes in language. Do students at our school have classical literature read to them? Are they able to recognize classical literature? Are they exposed to language that expands their horizons? What are those horizons? The team were justifiably proud and excited at their success in Birmingham and at the prospects of the national final in Edinburgh in March 2015. They approached the competition with a healthy lack of entitlement and expectation, partly enabled by not progressing in the Magistrates Court Mock Trial competition the previous year. Their exuberance and euphoria was empowering. But it is the deeper implications of projects such as this for education across the UK that might involve a wider legacy than just a positive experience of success. Yes, there is an elaborated code here. Yes, there is social mobility (and, indeed, social “fluency”, as David Cameron would have it). Yes, there is an exposure to personal responsibility in a way that teaches students about subjects such riot, violent disorder, possession of controlled drugs, knife crime, theft etc in a way that is far more engaged and effective than any PHSE session could ever achieve. But this same class had also previously wrestled in Citizenship Studies with the non-voting gauntlet thrown down by Russell Brand across a range of media. In his Newsnight interview with Jeremy Paxman, Brand had claimed that the Parliament elite was as it was because the environment of the Palace of Westminster echoed so closely that of their elite private schools. Elaborated code is not just restricted to language. Thus, Russell Brand in this case and Maxine Peake (in Silk) as a strong model of female progression, offer different codes, different routes of exploration.
When this same class undertook the Magistrates Court level of this competition last year, the headlines then were of the judges’ interest in the delicate crocheted badges the students had made. Corridor conversations with police officers, solicitors, JPs and other teachers clarified some of the myths around Steiner-Waldorf education. ‘Nimble fingers nimble minds’ helped explain our commitment to arts and crafts throughout school as well as the value of aesthetics and ethics in all areas of learning. We explained that our delayed introduction of formal instruction in literacy and numeracy follows the extensively evidence-based continental model, rather than being a cultish neglect of learning.
It was important for this class to have begun to explore the UK’s judicial system with an initial consideration of global justice and especially restorative models, such as South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The class following them in the school are extending this by looking at the World Justice Project and the World Values Survey – models that provide Citizenship Studies with a more complex map of the social and political landscape than the polarised left-right spectrum that arose with the seating arrangements of the French Revolution. This link between the ethics and politics of the justice system was elaborated in the competition by Emma Edhem, one of the volunteer barristers who judged our school’s second round trial. She not only gave feedback and encouragement to the students, including a comment that the first forays into public speaking are terrifying for most people. She also gave an insight into her own development as a barrister through working principally as a criminal lawyer before going on to serve in cases involving geopolitical statecraft. If emancipatory education has any central tenet it was exemplified here by enabling the horizons of students to be constantly expanded and helping them see the relationship between personal fulfillment and public service. Thus, the creativity of personal development and the teamwork of social intelligence take their place alongside the more traditional notions of learning through literacy and numeracy.
Queens Counsel Richard Atkins also stated to the four barristers performing in the regional final (including Steiner’s Oliver Meiklejohn and Maia Pandya) that the level of their advocacy surpassed that of some fully qualified barristers that he sees in court on a daily basis. Angus Braid was praised by His Honour Judge Worster as being an exemplary Usher. But the school won this heat precisely because their support for each other enabled personal performances to contribute towards an overall team ethic and an even level of quality.
It is more in this, the Crown Court (Bar) level of the competition than the Magistrates Court, that students encounter the moral complexity of the justice system in the UK and that it is not so much held within the actions or performance of individuals, but by the entirety of the system itself. For a teenager, let alone an adult, such a level of moral complexity is a challenge, but provides a valuable backdrop to the more mundane and challenging struggles in school when working with the social, moral and spiritual development of young people. This is especially the case when challenging bullying, discrimination and oppressive practice, and the insight required that treating everybody fairly is not the same as treating everybody in the same way. This is a broader social journey that we are all undertaking, and where Rudolf Steiner’s vision of education as ‘social renewal’ finds particular relevance. Such a vision is reflected well within more contemporary educational research around restricted and elaborate language codes that this competition so powerfully engages. The ethical heart of the judicial system is here democratised and made accessible to state educated teenagers, principally through exposure to its language, rituals and people.