It has been an important week for those who try to inform parents about the dangers of Steiner education.
Thanks to the British Humanist Association (BHA), the Department for Education (DfE) released the documents parents and the public at large badly needed to see. Many serious problems with Steiner schools had been made known to the Department before the decision was made to fund them as free schools. (See previous post)
The result was a segment on Newsnight and the sharing of the facts about anthroposophy to an even wider audience. A short film was followed by a studio debate where Robert Peston showed an understanding of the issues.
Yesterday Chris Cook a Policy Editor for the BBC wrote a blogpost demonstrating that he also “gets it”.
In addition a report in the Guardian last week highlighted the difficulties within the Camphill movement, where large amounts of public money have been spent on what is described as a “social experiment” using anthroposophy to provide care for vulnerable adults.
Whatever parents think about Rudolf Steiner’s claims to be clairvoyant, and the resulting belief system “anthroposophy”, perhaps they will now be more aware of the kind of education they are selecting for their child when they are attracted to a Steiner school.
As comments here and accounts on many other websites have shown, so many families have been misled, taken in by the “hype”, and children and families have been suffering as a result. It is those innocent about anthroposophy who are most likely to leave in distress.
Looking back over the last few weeks, with the departure of Michael Gove from his role as Education Secretary, the failure of the Steiner free school bid here in Stroud, and the withdrawal of another bid in Leeds, it is tempting to believe that investigation into this important “story” has already had some effect.
Michael Gove approved Steiner schools for state-funding despite the facts about their unsuitablility having been made perfectly clear to his department. We do not yet know the exact reason for this, but the circumstances of his visit to a Steiner school in Bruton, Somerset, accompanied by members of the Rees Mogg family are considered significant by the BHA in their assessment of the whole sorry story, in a section entitled “How Michael Gove and the DfE’s Free Schools team came to support Steiner schools” .
The BHA briefing from January this year also describes the problems with pseudoscience on the curriculum, anti-vaccination, problematic racial theories in anthoposophy used in the classroom, karma and bullying, and the science curriculum itself, to list a few.
Further Steiner schools being approved as free schools now seems unlikely, and with parents better informed about the way teachers are trained in anthroposophy, it is difficult to see the existing schools maintaining popularity among new recruits.
Once they are easily available to those who need them, the facts speak for themselves. Until now it has been difficult for anyone to even realise anthroposophy exists before signing up to Steiner, let alone researching the subject and its potentially damaging effects on families.
As MarkH says, this week’s events may be seen as a “Watershed moment”, and the point at which it finally became clear that the Steiner movement is not fit to run schools or provide care, and one with which it is not wise to become associated.