Steiner Free School proposal submitted – object now

By Jim

The Stroud News and Journal this week confirmed that the formal proposal for a Steiner Free School in Stroud had been submitted. Although there is no formal consultation process it is still worth sending in your objections to Michael Gove. True, his track record of listening is not good but given all the recent scandals concerning these schools he may be under a little more pressure to take note.

If you wish to object the email address is: ministers@education.gsi.gov.uk

For what it is worth here is what I sent:

Dear Mr Gove,

 I understand a formal application has now been submitted for a Steiner Free School in Stroud. I am writing to urge you to reject this proposal.
My reasons are fourfold.
Need – First, and perhaps most important, there is simply no need for a new school in the Stroud area. There is currently a surplus of around 600 school places in the 4 – 16 age range. If a further school with 600 places is opened the surplus will rise to around 1200 places. As a consequence it is likely that 2 or 3 primary schools and a secondary school will be forced to close forcing pupils to travel further to school and possibly denying them the opportunity of a mainstream education. Other areas such as Gloucester or Cheltenham do need more places but the more ethnically diverse make up of these are unattractive to the Steiner movement.
Fitness – The second reason is the nature of the school. The teachings of Rudolf Steiner ( anthroposophy ) are at best controversial and many would argue absurd and repugnant. Steiner schools know this and claim they do not teach anthroposophy but the fact is that this philosophy permeates everything they do. Superstition and pseudo-science runs throughout anthroposophy – there are too many examples to quote but for example do you think it appropriate that children are classified according to the medieval notion of the four temperaments and their previous incarnations? Or to be taught that the black and brown races are destined to die out to be superseded by the white?
Social impact – The Stroud area already suffers from a large number of Steiner institutions. These tend to be inward looking and exclusive to the extent in some instances of showing total disregard for local feelings and planning regulations. A further institution on the proposed scale would exacerbate the situation. It would also draw in more Steiner adherents who have no connection with the area and would add to the growing social division.
Health – Steiner schools strongly discourage vaccination and for this reason the Health Protection Agency ( now part of Public Health England ) regards them as a high risk community for diseases such as measles. Stroud has already suffered above average levels of measles, with the existing Steiner presence no doubt a significant factor. It should be remembered that this risk is not confined to those attending such schools but also affects the surrounding community. The HPA also noted the lack of cooperation from Steiner schools in reporting outbreaks of disease.
Given these objections I hope you will agree that this proposal is unacceptable and should be rejected.
Thank you

 We’ll see what happens.

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4 comments

  1. Helen

    Thanks for this post Jim
    It just struck me – the reaction of most people of Gloucester and Cheltenham to a proposed Steiner free school would probably be one of incredulity. They are not so familiar with the kind of goings-on we have become accustomed to here in Stroud and Nailsworth.

    • Jim

      It’s interesting that one of the oldest Steiner institutions around here, Wynstones, is nominally in Gloucester. It is just outside the city boundary and since it’s founding the city has grown out to meet it. And in those days Stroud was a pretty run down place, nothing like as appealing as it is today.
      I doubt they would make the same choice today. I also doubt that much of Wynstones intake comes from Gloucester.

  2. Helen

    Yes it is more Stroud than Gloucester culturally and politically.
    Stroud Community Agriculture have the majority of their biodynamic acres at Brookthorpe by Wynstones.

  3. Helen

    I have written to object.
    The rising cost of opening free schools must be a factor in decisions now.
    £6.6 million is a lot to spend in a town where we already have good schools

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