Monday, 18 February 2013


Waldorf education in English state education system
Free Schools in UK, Charter Schools in US

Most deplorably, I have only just found this article by Jeevan Vasagar, from May of last year –

The [Steiner] academy in Hereford is the first Steiner school to receive state funding, with more to follow… In class, there is an emphasis on teaching through music and physical expression; in one lesson for six-year-olds the children recite times tables while touching parts of their body, or stepping back and forth over a skipping rope laid flat on the floor. And there is a strong sense of the practical side of education... The Steiner education movement, named after its Austrian founder Rudolf Steiner, describes itself as providing an 'unhurried and creative' environment for learning. 'It's about keeping that vitality and that freshness and that twinkling eye...'

In England, Steiner education is on the brink of a significant expansion. At present, the academy in Herefordshire is the only one to receive state funding out of 34 Steiner schools in the UK. In September, it will be joined by a state-funded 'free school' in Frome, Somerset. Two more Steiner schools – in Leeds and Exeter – are applying for state funding under the free schools programme. They are being interviewed at the Department for Education this week and next, and a decision will be announced in June...

At present, Steiner schools have a toehold in the English state system. Most schools are privately funded, and while there are plenty of flourishing kindergartens, there is only a handful of schools for older children. In the US, where Steiner schools are known as Waldorf, the charter-school model – publicly funded but privately run schools, like England's free schools – have offered a way in. There are now 23 Waldorf charter schools in the US...

Any unconventional approach to education will be polarising. It's clear from the number of fee-paying Steiner schools that there are many who favour this style of education for their child. But it's not just a matter of attractive wooden furnishings and organic food – Steiner schools offer a radically different take on the world.

Oh, to have the chance to start again. As the Irishman said, I wouldn't start from where we are now. An 'integrated school', with a 'conductive' philosophy behind its pedagogy and upbringing, now's there's an idea for the imaginative and the competent.

There's nothing new under the sun... now where recently have I heard that idea before?


SUTTON, A. (2013) German integrated school: CE to be embedded in primary school, Conductive World, 2 February

VASAGAR, J. (2012) A different class: the expansion of Steiner schools, Guardian,25 May

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Blogger NormanP said...

Not a response as such but a couple of thoughts.

1. There is an article to be written about successful and unsuccessful applications to open SEN Free Schools. This was where it started

2. Evidencing 'demand' is a huge challenge, either for a new school or a 'conversion' of an existing school (as with Paces).

3. I doubt any group of people with a commitment to CE could be brought together to propose an "integrated school" (ie not just SEN)

4. The exception to my point 3 could be an existing large charity. That could be done ... but I doubt anyone would.

5. CE's best hope would be an application to open a group of special schools nationally - but I do not know there is the will to do so.

6. If you take a look at the TES article noted in point 1 you will read a statement said to be made by me which captures the optimism that the the 2010 announcement of the Free Schools programme offered SEN ("Becoming a free school will mean parents can apply to us directly and we have more ability to plan for our financial future" - just like other Free Schools. You might also notice that "The scheme was delayed while officials dealt with the complexities of setting up publicly funded independent special education" - delayed from 2010 to 2011. From the standpoint of 2013, it can be seen "Officials" were certainly successful in making "setting up publicly funded independent special education" complex - far more complex than it need be - and well beyond the reach of small charities and parents. Another paper waiting to be written. No if I could get some research funding ....

Monday, 18 February 2013 at 17:53:00 GMT  
Blogger Andrew Sutton said...

This discussion continued:

A short dialogue

Do please contribute...

Monday, 18 February 2013 at 20:02:00 GMT  
Blogger Susie Mallett said...

When I became an art teacher and art therapist I dabbled with the idea that I would like to teach art in a Waldorf school but this meant more years of training and I already had six behind me. Later on I did more years of training anyway, four of them, in Hungary and I became a conductor!

My interest in Waldorf education continued and has grown as I worked as a conductor in Germany. Now I no longer only dream of teaching art in a Waldorf school. Waldorf/conductive integration from Kindergarten through to adulthood is a new dream that I, and at least one of my colleagues, would dearly wish to realize. Unfortunately after reading the dialogue taking place on your blog postings I get the feeling that if that dream is to come true in my working lifetime it might have to be realised in Germany.

Many years ago I accompanied one of my clients to once-weekly therapy/education sessions at a Waldorf school in Northern Germany, near Paderborn, and I really felt at home in the environment and while discussing with the therapist our work with our client. Those sessions ended after a year, the school was unfortunately too far away for my client to attend daily but we still talk about the work that lady did with him and utilise it to this day in our continuing work.

One of my stroke clients found conductive education she said quite by chance. But I often ask myself whether it really was just chance? This lady lives in an anthroposophical community-care facility that adjoins the training school for Eurythmy just around the corner from where I live!

Eurythmy is an expressive movement art originated by Rudolf Steiner and his wife Marie von Sivers, so it is probably no surprise that this client found my conductive stroke group!
I hope it is not too long before we see a coming together of conductive upbringing and pedagogy and Steiner’s philosophies for learning and upbringing.

Monday, 18 February 2013 at 21:31:00 GMT  

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