“Faith free schools and free schools with a distinctive educational philosophy or world view (including Steiner, Montessori and Maharishi)”

The Stroud Steiner free school group may decide to share the reasons for the failure of their bid, at least with parents who have supported it, but until we know more it is helpful to look at the guidance from the DfE on applying to open a free school .

There are special rules for “Faith free schools and free schools with a distinctive educational philosophy or world view (including Steiner, Montessori and Maharishi)”

The rules are clear, and the  “faith” element referred to is particularly prominent in Steiner, as was pointed out  in a comment here recently, on the “Anthroposophy is a religion” post. A parent said;

When we complained to the steiner school that our child attended, regarding the fact that they made him chant and pray, (without our knowledge or consent) they told us that we had been mistaken and that they were in fact a christian school and deeply religious. If we didnt like that fact, then maybe it wasn’t the school for us!”

So families who do not subscribe to the so-called “Christian” (in fact anthroposophical) elements are labelled as disruptive and asked to leave.

The last two government requirements for opening a free school in this category are particularly relevant;

        • Your school must provide a meaningful alternative for pupils whose parents wish to withdraw them from religious education, collective worship or other faith-related studies;
        • We will not approve any application where we have any concerns about creationism being taught as a valid scientific theory, or about schools failing to teach evolution adequately as part of their science curricula.

My guess is that the group may have fallen down in these last two criteria. Steiner schools don’t want children opting out of the morning verse (Steiner’s prayer to the sun God) or the eurythmy or the anthroposophical medicine. Once parents ask for their child to be excused from participating in these activities, questions start to be asked about what is going on in the school. Questions that it may not have occurred to parents to ask before.

With regard to the teaching of creationism – this is woven through the Steiner curriculum in such a way as to be impossible to separate out for those who do not want their child taught bible stories or Steiner creation myths.

Steiner followers who have studied anthroposophy (including the teachers on their special anthroposophical training courses) have their own version of evolution which does not match everyone else’s. It assumes the aryan race at the top of the tree, with animals as by-products of human development.

Nice, huh?

The Steiner curriculum book, Richter and Rawson, used at Hereford Steiner Academy disparages Darwinian evolution as “reductionist”.

This certainly does not constitute “teaching evolution adequately”.

If as the group claim they have demonstrated a demand for the school, why haven’t they been successful? And why should they be given more financial help for another bid if they failed first time around?

The DfE does not encourage groups to reapply straight away, contrary to what the group are saying on their facebook page; here is what they say to unsuccessful applicants.

4.16 If your application is not successful, you will receive a feedback letter giving information about the judgement. Unless we tell you otherwise, we would not expect a group to reapply in the very next application window. Instead, groups should allow themselves enough time to address their weaknesses and strengthen their application.

4.17 If you are reapplying after being unsuccessful in a previous round, we expect you to demonstrate under the relevant section of your new application how you have changed your application in response to the written feedback you received. If this feedback is not addressed to our satisfaction, it is likely that your application will not be considered further, and you may not get full feedback on the application.

The defiant attitude on the part of “Ames and the Core group” who say “…we feel confident that we can get the school approved in the next round… we will get our school” is at odds with DfE advice.






  1. Helen

    I wonder if learning that reincarnation is an accepted explanation for the way life goes is classed as “faith related studies”?
    It may seem a harmless worldview to those who like the idea of their soul “coming back” to earth, but the consequences for the way a belief in karma affects the behaviour of Steiner followers are serious; no vaccination, no interference in bullying, and a dodgy reliance on ‘temperaments’ for assessing children.
    It would be impossible for a child to go through a Steiner education without being introduced to the idea of reincarnation. There’s no opting-out of that.

  2. Helen

    Interestingly someone managed to convince Neil Carmichael MP during his visit to Hereford Steiner academy that no-one from the Stroud free school group had been in touch with the SWSF and that the proposed school here would therefore be “Steiner-like” (presumably something resembling the Acorn school in Nailsworth).
    The group would not even have been able to be an interest group without registering, and a phone call I made to the SWSF confirmed that they have indeed registered.
    Mr Carmichael was convinced by the tale and did not believe my assertion that the Steiner name is protected by law. This makes me wonder if the story put out to supporters of the bid is that the Stroud school would not be a true Steiner school – if so, some people would be in for a nasty shock.

  3. we escaped!

    According to this particular school, our 6 year old child, had no skin, his astral being kept him awake at night and he was a tormented soul. They told us only to feed him root vegetables for breakfast, but not potatoes? He also endured months of curative eurythmy that involved weights being strapped around his ankles (again, this was without our knowledge or consent), to ground him, because he did not know himself! Obviously as soon as our son told us this we stopped him from attending such sessions. He was made to feel different and was made an example of. The school didn’t feel that they needed to ask our permission to do such things. Their attempt brainwash him with their beliefs failed, as thankfully we do have a child that knows his own mind and will question things (the school did not like this at all). When he questioned them regarding the existence of god, they told him that god did exist! We lost our boy whilst he was at that school. We are lucky that we discovered the true nature of what they are up to and are happy to say that we have our child back.
    Fortunately we do have most of this documented by the school and admitted they had mislead us (we also have recordings of them admitting this too).
    Ofsted and DfE also have all of this information (plus a lot more concerning and worrying details we have made them aware of) on their records.

    We sent him there based on their promotional details, however, only the well informed anthros know the true nature of what their true intentions are.

    Great work Helen, you are doing a grand job in raising awareness regarding this questionable institution.

    • Helen

      Oh my goodness. I think we may have just found out exactly why any more Steiner schools are not going to be deemed acceptable under any circumstances.
      I don’t want to say anything to prejudice any investigation that may be going on, so will leave it there.

    • Rain17

      I have seen parent’s concerns around another kid’s use of namecalling and epithets against their child be dismissed by a teacher as “responding from the astral body.” I guess that means it must have all happened in their sleep. /eyeroll

  4. Lyra

    Eurythmy is a form of prayer, the children are in effect being forced to worship Anthroposophy without their (or their parents) consent.

    • Helen

      Thanks Lyra. I suggested to Neil Carmichael he should ask in detail about eurythmy, but I don’t know if he did. I think they may have seduced him with biodynamic scones.

  5. we escaped!

    I hope you appreciate why we also do not want to say too much! What we discovered was cruel, shocking and heart breaking! What our son had to endure, was abuse, especially considering he should trust and feel safe in such an environment.

    • Helen

      Yes, it is truly shocking. If I did not already know how disgusting the behaviour of Steiner followers can be it would be hard to believe.
      I have joked about curative eurythmy in the past without realising it could be this bad. To do this to children and their families in the name of education is unforgivable.

      • we escaped!

        The DfE and ofsted obviously think its ok though! They have had enough complaints regarding such teachings and practices, perhaps they are all in on it too?
        I am glad we have nothing to do with steiner any more, but truly so sorry for people who will walk into these institutions and be damaged for life.

        • Steve

          Interesting. When the Steiner school we sent our three kids to expelled them rather than deal with the horrible bullying in my eldest’s class, we too went to the Department for Education (in New Zealand). It turns out that their only power was to close the school down. Nothing in between, so nothing was done.

          We wrote a 20-page complaint to the OFSTED equivalent (ERO), but there is no need to mention bullying in their reports, so unsurprisingly no mention was made of what happened to my kids. The school used that as justification that they had done nothing wrong.

          We then went to Health & Safety with the same complaint but by then the school had changed its parent handbook, most particularly the part where it says parents should talk to the teacher should they have any concerns. It was totally replaced. So H&S told us that since it doesn’t say that parents should express concerns, the school had done nothing wrong.

          Thankfully the Human Rights Commission saw that something wasn’t right and helped us. After six months of mediation, we got a settlement with the school wereby they admitted that there was bullying, that our daughter’s accounts were honest, and regretted what happened.

          Then, when the NZ media caught on, the school then went back on those legally binding statements blaming us for what happened and stating that the bullying was alleged!

          Good luck! I’d love to heard more about your story when you can release it.

          We chronicled ours here: http://www.titirangisteinermessenger.com

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