OFSTED finds college “Inadequate”

An OFSTED report out yesterday on a local Steiner college has judged it to be “Inadequate”  because of concerns over safe-guarding and bullying. Ruskin Mill College is considered to be failing in “effective leadership and management”.

The following reasons were given;

  • Managers and trustees have not taken effective action to bring about overall improvements in the college in response to the increasingly complex needs of the students, and the quality of provision has declined since the last inspection.
  • The arrangements to evaluate and monitor all aspects of safeguarding are weak, and the number of significant incidents, including bullying, continues to be too high.
  • The lines of accountability and reporting for safeguarding, including the links between the residential and teaching functions, are unclear.
  • The arrangements to promote equality and diversity are not working effectively.


The problem areas are not surprising in the context of Steiner education, and similar issues have often been highlighted by parents exiting Steiner schools and by those who have worked in such schools or colleges.

Anthroposophy does not constitute an effective foundation for any kind of education. Steiner groups often focus on young people and adults with learning difficulties or behavioural problems, since their belief system contains teachings about the way so-called “spiritual work” can be put to special use in these instances.

Outcomes for learners and the quality of teaching at Ruskin Mill was considered good, although there were criticism in the report in these areas too. An overall criticism is that “The self-assessment report is over optimistic in its judgements”.

Bullying is dealt with in anthroposophy by using peculiar anthroposophical beliefs on “Karma” where individuals are considered to be living their lives according to experience gained during a previous incarnation. This can hardly be considered as good practice in any educational setting. Responses to instances of bullying were considered “slow” according to this report.

A general lack of focus on organisational matters and a blurring of lines between professional and caring responsibilities has been frequently mentioned by critics of Steiner methods.

Yesterday’s report exposes a regrettable drop in standards of care and education for the students, and also highlights some of the incompetence of an organisation that is currently orchestrating the take-over of a second pub in the area, Tipput’s Inn.

The diversifying of the College into cafes and shops does not seem to be having a positive effect on the way the college is managed, and it would seem sensible to concentrate on student welfare as a priority over property acquisition.

As long as the College is run according to Steiner doctrine, a change for the better seems unlikely.







  1. BJ

    I am very pleased that OFSTED has finally picked up on these failings. However, as you say Helen, since the problems arise from the implementation of anthroposophical doctrine, positive changes do seem unlikely. It would be interesting to know how Managers at Ruskin Mill are planning to address these issues. . .

    • Helen

      On the bullying issue the report says “The student council has been active in preparing an anti-bullying leaflet for students to raise awareness of the issues and to provide immediate support for students who experience bullying.”
      Yes, leaflets are all very well, and Steiner schools are often good at “talking the talk”…
      Also on “Incidents that compromise the safety of students and staff” which the report says are too frequent, “A recent working group has been set up to track any patterns in the incidents, and new paperwork has very recently been introduced to encourage staff reporting incidents to reflect on what could be done to prevent incidents occurring. It is too soon to see the impact of these in reducing the number of incidents occurring.”
      A significant number of the incidents are apparently categorised as “serious safeguarding incidents”, so I assume the situation will be monitored somehow.

    • Helen

      And of course BJ,what I should have said is that you have been telling us about these inadequacies for some time, so it is good to have your criticisms recognised officially.

  2. Jim

    I heard recently that there had been a number of redundancies at Ruskin Mill – can anyone clarify? Connected with that a number of Steiner schools and colleges seem to be in financial difficulty. That and poorly qualified staff is a recipe for failure even without the added burden of the Steiner curriculum.
    If true isn’t it odd that institutions can be in difficulty and laying off staff whilst at the same time trying to expand their property portfolio?
    I can’t help feeling that part of their difficulty might come from favouring anthroposophical correctness over financial and managerial competence when appointing senior staff

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