The Department for Education (DfE) has been ordered by an information tribunal to release departmental advice dating from 2010 following an appeal by the British Humanist Association. This information comprises two short briefing papers setting out the views of opponents of the public funding of Steiner Waldorf education, specifically through the government’s “free school” programme. The two papers, dated August & September 2010, include a number of allegations received by the DfE but without detail or corroboration. The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship is aware of & seeks to refute several allegations recorded in these papers.
Individuals & organizations opposed to the public funding of Steiner schools accuse Rudolf Steiner, who died in 1925, of having held racist views & claim that the educational method within SWSF member schools is racist. While the superficial reading of a handful of Steiner’s voluminous, extensive lectures present statements that appear racist in modern terms, none of these occur in his educational writings. Our schools do not tolerate racism. Racist views do not accord with Steiner’s longer term vision of a society in which such distinctions would be entirely irrelevant & modern Steiner Waldorf schools deplore all forms of intolerance, aiming to educate in a spirit of respect & to encourage open-hearted regard for others among the children they educate.
The allegation has also been made that bullying is tolerated by teachers in Steiner Waldorf schools. Bullying is not tolerated by our schools and all our schools have strong anti-bullying policies, informed by the appropriate DfE guidance. This is illustrated by our members’ inspection reports. Steiner teachers work with all aspects of the child’s development and place value on enabling children to explore & learn about the widest possible range of human endeavour & knowledge as they mature. We recognise the need to provide a safe & sociable environment for children to become resilient, creative & effective adults who retain a lifelong thirst for learning. Any reference to a child’s “karma” that suggests that this explains or excuses bullying is incorrect & unacceptable in an educational context. In contrast to the allegations, the recent inspection report for the Steiner Academy Frome, found Pupils’ behaviour is good. They are confident and happy in school, which they describe as ‘a big family’. They consider that pupils’ behaviour is ‘generally good’. They know the boundaries and that the principal will not tolerate any form of bullying. Pupils say that they do not experience any bullying. Adults deal swiftly with any incidents of name calling or unintentional physical contact. (http://www.steineracademyfrome.co.uk/files/5113/9506/2330/Steiner_Academy_Frome_Ofsted_Report_March_2014.pdf)
The SWSF works to support its members in maintaining the highest possible standards in an ethos informed by Steiner’s philosophy, although this is not taught in the schools. For example, the following points are highlighted from a formal inspection report conducted in the summer term:
[The school] provides extremely well for pupils personal development by extending their knowledge & experience of local & wider society & their appreciation of other cultures…it encourages independent learning & research skills to flourish…so that pupils are very well prepared for the next phase of their education [&] enables pupils to achieve very high standards in music, eurythmy & observational drawing & the use of twenty-first century multi-media & information technology in their project work (http://www.schoolinspectionservice.co.uk/new/docs/GreenwichSteinerInspectionReportMay2014.pdf)
Pupils achieve well throughout the school, reaching above expected levels in English & mathematics & in the other subjects they take in year 11…..Older students develop strong independent working & thinking skills…[&]…go on to successfully study & achieve wide ranging qualification at GCSE, A-level & beyond
For further information www.steinerwaldorf.org