Mr Gove, WE KNOW YOU KNOW….

Letters have been written to the Department for Education alerting Michael Gove to the dangers of Steiner schools. There is also a letter from Mr Gove himself four years ago acknowledging receipt of parents’ concerns and stating his promise to look in to the matter.

Since that time there has been alleged abuse at a Steiner school, there have been poor Ofsted reports and schools closing, and yet the DfE have approved more Steiner free schools.

The serious incidents so far have occurred at independent schools, but as we have shown, there is no difference apart from the funding arrangements. Anthroposophically trained teachers are employed, and staff are affiliated to the Anthroposophical Society and the School of Spiritual Science. The aim is the same; the spiritual indoctrination of children.

Trevor Mepham head of the Frome Steiner Academy is an example of an anthroposophist teacher, and yet he denies on BBC tv knowing that Steiner believed in reincarnation. This kind of dissimulation is rife, with schools continuing to deny anthroposophy is taught to the children.

Anthroposophy is taught to children every day in every Steiner school, and staff use it as their framework.

Eurythmy is not just “poetic movement” or whatever ambiguous description the schools try to put on it; it is deeply religious for Steiner followers, and obligatory in a Steiner school – the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship insists on it in any school bearing the Steiner name. It is used as therapy for perceived imperfections in children, and as we saw in a comment from a parent, in their case constituted the abuse of their 6 year-old child.

The SWSF also insist on children categorised according to the imaginary temperaments Steiner was so fond of (which is in fact discrimination), and Steiner prayers are said in school.

The same parent told us what happened when permission to opt out of such rituals was requested; no accommodation was made.

What is Mr Gove’s department waiting for? How many more serious incidents and complaints do there have to be before Steiner schools are taken off the approval list for free schools? Steiner schools have operated in exactly the same way for nearly a hundred years. They will never change – Aberdeen has demonstrated that – they chose to close than change their practices as advised by Ofsted.

The phone –hacking trial came to a conclusion with a conviction recently, after years of delays and denials that it ever took place at all. Must it be this way with Steiner schools too?

Parents who once suffered in isolation believing they were the only victims of Steiner education are now linking up with others and realising the whole system is at fault; it is not a failing of the children or their parents, as the schools would have us believe, but of a secretive and destructive cult which has wormed its way in to the state system by deception and obfuscation.

The DfE has been alerted, and it is their responsibility to act on these warnings and thoroughly investigate what is going on in Steiner schools.

 

 

 

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11 comments

  1. Jim

    Just reported – Gove no more! He has been replaced as education secretary by Nicky Morgan. Don’t know what that is likely to mean but it would be hard to find anyone worse than Gove. On that subject, can Cameron really be intending to keep the man whose arrogance is matched only be his incompetence – Ian Duncan-Smith?????

  2. Helen

    Some people are optimistic about Nicky Morgan because she is a mother – a status hitherto lacking in the cabinet. But Michael Gove is a father and that didn’t seem to enhance his capabilities.

  3. Jim

    Nicky Morgan is a rather unknown quantity but I agree parenthood guarantees nothing. However I do think there may be grounds for optimism as regards free schools, and the Stroud Steiner proposal in particular. There has been so much controversy around free schools, and so little demonstrable benefit, that I think it is likely that the push is over. Nothing so clear as an admission they are a failure – just a quiet lack of interest in pursuing any new ones. After all their problems have been so apparent that only an abrasive ideologue like Gove would promote them regardless, and those are the qualities which got him sacked. The academisation programme is more important, though not without its own problems, so why risk it for the sake of a few free schools?
    If that is what happens then what about the existing free schools? If they were eventually required to become academies and accept the national curriculum I imagine they would choose to close down.

    • we escaped!

      I believe that they withdraw their application because it would mean that they have to conform to normal rules and expected standards. We all know that they make their own rules up and by becoming an academy/free school, they would not be allowed to conduct themselves as they want to (as they would probably be prosecuted for abuse!)They do not like to appoint a leader, as a leader has to take accountability. Steiner do not operate in this way, they pass complaints around and around and nothing is ever acknowledged or resolved. My son’s steiner school also withdrew their application, even though they are in desperate need of funds. I think the tactic is to apply, to make themselves appear safe and legitimate, when in actual fact, the majority of them do not want free school status because it means that they would be controlled and monitored. At least with academy/free school status they have to be regulated in some way. The dangerous places are those that remain independent.

      • we escaped!

        Please note I am not supporting the fact of them becoming free schools, just wanted to highlight why the independent school withdraw their applications.
        They should all be closed down and prosecuted in my opinion.

      • Helen

        I agree with you that those who try to open Steiner schools believe they will acquire a veneer of respectability by becoming state funded. Our MP Neil Carmichael expressed to me his disbelief that any free school would be able to behave in the way other Steiner schools behave. He also mistakenly thought that as free schools they would have to teach the National Curriculum and employ qualified teachers, which is false. (He is on the Education Select Committee which makes this lack of understanding worse).
        Of course the free school teams do all they can to make out theirs will be some kind of utopian dream of a school, where the pretty bits of Steiner will be incorporated, and the not so pretty will be dropped. Again this is not the case, the SWSF see to that, and the people in charge are the same people with the same anthroposophical training and affiliations.
        Over the past year I have been trying to dispel these misapprehensions but the message does not seem to be getting through to some people.
        I also think there is conflict within the Steiner movement about whether state funding is a good idea – some can see problems ahead with the control and monitoring you mention, others just want the money and perhaps believe they can appear to conform whilst still carrying on in their own misguided way towards the sixth post Atlantean epcoch.
        Leeds may well have had problems finding a suitable leader – as Bristol certainly have done with the role of vice-principal remaining unfilled despite interviews taking place.
        I do hope it is as they say and the writing is on the wall for Steiner free school bids.

        • Jim

          Given that a number of Steiner schools seem to be in financial difficulties I think we must assume that the Free school bids were genuine attempts to secure state funding rather than just a show of respectability. They had every reason to expect success as they had already gained exemption from EYFS and been allowed their own inspection body, with an inbuilt pro-Steiner bias. Combine those concessions, and they would have pressed for more, with their capacity for deception and a major growth in state funded Steiner schooling looked highly likely. Remember that only a few weeks ago we were fully expecting the Stroud bid to be approved.
          So I think we have had a lucky escape. And it probably owes as much to the growing realisation that the free school programme, and education policy in general, is a shambles as it does to an awareness of the true nature of Steiner schools. ( sorry Helen – that is in no way to diminish your efforts which have been great but as you say yourself people just seem unwilling to face up to Steiner ). With the departure of Gove we must hope that Steiner supporters such as the Rees Moggs and Emma Craigie will lose their sympathetic ear in high places.

          • we escaped!

            I suppose im still trying to fathom and get my head around why they are still allowed to be up and running!
            Jim, I think you have given a very good description of the current state of play. My concern is not just the fact that they are trying to get funding for free schools, it’s the fact that there are independent schools flying under the radar and nobody with any authority seem to be aware of it. Or are they..?

            • Helen

              The “some people” I was talking about are the local politicians who talk about Steiner as if they know something about it when in reality they seem to have found out very little. For them to advocate a free school or go along with it when they don’t understand its foundation of anthroposophy seems irresponsible, and shows a lack of willingness to really engage with the issue.

            • Jim

              I’m afraid the position with independent schools is quite different. They are free to do pretty much anything they want. And of course there is an argument that people should be free to believe any nonsense they want. But whether that freedom should extend to denying their children access to a proper education is quite a different matter. I would say not but then there are also dangers in a totally state prescribed education.

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