In the news this week there is a report on the high standards of schools in Gloucestershire
County councillor and cabinet member for children and young people Paul McLain, and Schools Minister David Laws both congratulated local schools on “raising their game” and achieving better results in literacy and numeracy than the national average.
I wonder if those in authority have considered what a state-funded Steiner school in the county will do to their attainment figures?
This week the Stroud News and Journal reported that the Steiner free school application has reached the interview stage, and that this will take place in January.
So in a small town where the district council formally opposes the idea of a free school, where there are hundreds of extra school places, and where such a school will have a huge impact on educational provision, someone on high has decided this is a proposition worth considering for a second time.
The children in the new school will not be allowed to have books in the classroom before the age of seven because the old spiritualist Rudolf Steiner decided it would harm the “incarnation of their etheric body”. Yup. That’s why.
Open Waldorf, a site which claims to be neutral (it isn’t, it is pro) explains Steiner’s phases of child development as used in the schools in a handy diagram, and quotes from a book on the subject;
“The curriculum of the Waldorf School aids the process of the child’s development from the aspect of reincarnation.”
McAllen, Audrey. Sleep
The schools give out all sorts of obfuscation about “respecting childhood”, and an “unhurried” approach, but their slavish devotion to Steiner’s doctrine means that they see harm in teaching children to read and write before their milk teeth have fallen out. That does not sound like “respecting childhood.” It sounds like pseudoscience.
Steiner schools claim that children “catch up” with their peers, but this is not the case; some parents spend out on tutors, some remove their children and ask teachers in other schools to help (this happens a lot in Stroud) some children struggle and end up with the kind of certificates Steiner schools offer, some never achieve a decent standard of literacy and numeracy, and look back in anger.
The exam results for Hereford Steiner Academy this year fell significantly more than other schools in the country as new standards were introduced.
Enthusiast parents claim their right to choose this kind of “alternative” to education at our expense, but it could be considered a form of abuse to prevent a child from having the educational opportunities most children enjoy. Small children do not have a say in where they are sent to school; they are at the mercy of their parents to select a good option, and of the authorities to ensure the options are up to standard.
If this school materialises in Stroud children will suffer, and whereas in the past the choice of Steiner has been down to parents, it will now be a possibility that some parents in the area will have no alternative but to send their child to Steiner school. What a frightening thought.