The organiser of a new campaign to stop the government funding of Steiner schools has written this post to provide information about the many reasons why.
You can support the campaign by signing the petition and joining the facebook group mentioned at the end. If ever there was a good reason for setting up a facebook account, this could be it.
STOP PUBLICLY FUNDING STEINER SCHOOLS
Steiner (also known as Waldorf) education claims to provide an arts-based, progressive alternative(1) to mainstream education. However, the reality of Steiner education is very different(2): it is a rigid controlling, old-fashioned system that provides an inadequate standard of education for our children. Steiner education is based on the ideas of Rudolf Steiner(3), who claimed to have developed this educational system from his personal discussions with the spirit world. There are now four publicly funded Steiner schools in the UK(4) today, and more are applying. This needs to be stopped: Steiner education is not appropriate to be publicly funded(5) in the UK.
Steiner education was originated by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) in Germany between the two World Wars in parallel with the German fascist movement(6). The real foundation of Steiner education(7) is the occult belief system devised by Steiner called “anthroposophy”. Steiner believed(8) that the human race was evolving from dark skinned negroes to white skinned aryans. This idea forms the basis for Steiner’s version of “reincarnation” and “karma” and is the central tenet of anthroposophy. For example anthroposophists believe that people are born autistic(9) because of what they did in a previous incarnation. The purpose of Steiner education is to enable children’s souls to incarnate successfully. The connection to anthroposophy is deliberately hidden from prospective parents(10), and many parents and pupils of Steiner schools never find out about the fundamental role anthroposophy plays in Steiner education(11).
The majority of Steiner teachers have specialist Steiner teacher training(12) which is founded on Steiner’s anthroposophical writings and lectures(13). Many Steiner teachers do not have any other teaching qualifications apart from this. To operate as a “Steiner” school in the UK, the school has to be recognised by the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (SWSF), which requires that Steiner’s vision of education(14) is practiced.
Steiner schools describe themselves as being non-denominational(15). However, children recite a religious prayer-like morning verse(16) written by Steiner, which uses words such as God, reverence, soul and spirit. A ritualistic form of movement called eurythmy(17) is taught and practiced, which is supposed to be a form of communication with the spirit world.
Forced delayed reading: in Steiner education children are actively discouraged(18) from learning to read before the age of 7 years old: Steiner claimed that this is to do with the child’s ‘incarnating soul’. The SWSF claim that this is a valid “child development” reason according to Steiner educational pedagogy(12), and on this basis has been granted exemptions(19) from the teaching of literacy in “early years settings”.
Steiner schools do not teach the national curriculum. The content of Steiner education curriculum(20) is based on the writings and beliefs of Rudolf Steiner and does not always reflect current understandings of the world or developments in technology, medicine, science, mathematics or psychology. Steiner creation stories(21) include the idea of humans originating on different planets, while Norse myths and fairy tales are regarded as having special meaning and power(22), according to Roger Rawlings.
In Steiner education, the class teacher is kept with the same children for 8 years, parents are excluded(23) from the classroom, this can lead to potentially serious child protection(24) issues in Steiner schools. Steiner education has a track record(25) of resorting to old-fashioned disciplinary tactics and using inappropriate restraints(26) against children. Standard Steiner teaching practice is not to intervene in incidents of bullying(27). Steiner education policy(28) in the newly opened Bristol Steiner Academy suggests that while some children “may become victims of bullying through no fault of their own”, others may be subject to bullying “because” they look or behave differently. There are many examples online of distressing personal accounts(29) from families who have had negative experiences at Steiner schools. There are accounts online of parents who have complained being falsely accused by the schools(30) of abusing their own children and being reported to social services.
How our children are educated is a concern for the whole of society, not just parents. Steiner education is failing to provide our children and young people(31) with adequate relevant skills and qualifications to cope with the realities of the 21st century: in 2014, only 29% of Hereford Steiner Academy students(32) gained five A*-C grades at GCSE compared to the national average 52.6%(33). As a society we have a duty to educate our children to a particular, agreed level: Steiner education does not and cannot provide this(34).
This campaign has been launched raise public awareness and to demand that the UK government STOP PUBLICLY FUNDING STEINER SCHOOLS.