Steiner-free Steiner free school*

What are we to make of the second Stroud Steiner free school application?

In November the group changed the name of their planned school. They had been a part of the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship as a “registered interest group” for over two years, and had happily gone along with the requirements and stipulations laid down.

Suddenly, secretly, after sending in their second application, the name changed from “Steiner Academy Five Valleys” to simply “Stroud Academy”.

The reason given to a journalist from Stroud Life was that the decision was made for financial reasons. Tarra Gilder Rai claimed that membership of the SWSF was not value for money, as it would cost them £30,000.

Strange they did not notice this for two years, and that other Steiner free schools seem to happily pay SWSF fees.

I spoke to someone at the SWSF this morning and this reason was described as “Rubbish”. They also said that the group should not be using the word Steiner in any written material, as they are now only a “Steiner inspired setting”.

A story in the Gloucester Citizen included the following;

“… the bid has attracted controversy, with the UK membership body for Steiner schools refusing to support the application.

Kevin Avison of The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship said the bid by Stroud Academy did not meet its criteria for membership.

“We mutually agreed that they would submit the bid independently of the fellowship,” said Mr Avison.”

On their facebook page, called “Steiner Free School Initiative: Stroud Area” the group posted the following message, after being approached by the journalists, and several weeks after the second bid was formally made to the DfE.

“Hello! As you might have read in the Stroud Life this week, we have changed our name (again!). We are not at present part of the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship who own the rights to the word ‘Steiner’ so therefore we are not allowed to use the word in the title of our Steiner school. So, we’ve gone simply for Stroud Academy. We maintain the ethos, mission and curriculum of a Steiner Free School with no changes other than in our name!”


So the free school will not be free from Steiner.

The free school group will be accountable to the DfE, not fee paying parents. They say they will have an agreement with the DfE to teach the Steiner curriculum, yet the exemptions Steiner schools have been allowed from teaching young children reading, writing and numeracy only apply to official Steiner schools, not “Steiner inspired settings”. So how would an unofficial Steiner school fare in relation to the standards expected in state funded schools?

We were not allowed to know the contents of the rejection letter the group received last time, so it is unlikely we will ever know how the DfE react to this current situation. They have been informed.

In addition to this evidence of disarray within the Initiative Group, the  revelations last year about what the department for Education have known for years concerning the unsuitability of Steiner education for state funding, thanks to the freedom of information request by the British Humanist association, mean that it is difficult to see how this second bid could be approved.


(*I can’t claim credit for this catchy phrase)




  1. Rain17


    Steiner Free School plan “ludicrous” use of public funds say Stroud headteachers

    “Local taxpayers will be interested to see that this is £6 million spent on a school that is not needed. This is money that comes from the national education budget, and in the long term the funding for a free school will come from the Gloucestershire ‘pot’.”

    Steven Mackay, headteacher at Sir William Romney’s School said; “To spend £6 million at a time when budgets are tightening, and there are already surplus places, just doesn’t hold water. The money has to come from somewhere and will impact on all schools.”

    Pam Wilson headteacher of Maidenhill added; “There is only one pot of money and we are all on an economy drive.

    “It seems ludicrous and not a sensibly way to use public money.

    “It seems to me that if you stand in the high street and ask people if they are interested in a different type of school, that is a very different thing from asking if they support a school which would take funding away from other schools.”

    Spokesman for Stroud Academy, Tarra Gilder Rai said it would be a number of years before the school reached its full capacity of 600 children.

    Not needed!? But then who will inundate small children with stealth anthroposophy, and charge their unsuspecting parents an arm and a leg to do so!??

    • Helen

      It’s ok, Wynstones down the road will be happy to continue doing that – one more reason why it’s not needed. The money has to come from somewhere, and at least at the moment it is only a small number of children being subjected to that type of non-education.
      I see one of the local head teachers Colin Belford is writing to the DfE to object, an excellent plan, and Julia Maunder has taken the matter up with our MP. She won’t get much sense out of him I am afraid; the mantra of “choice” never stops from Neil Carmichael. Doesn’t matter to him if one of the choices is a complete dud.
      Thanks for that link Rain17.

  2. Jim

    So, the school is to be Steiner Free – it seems not much else is allowed to be. Today’s Stroud News and Journal carries a report that Hawkwood College ( Steiner naturally ) is to offer a course in Sacred Clowning which “works from a place of unity between mind, body and spirit”. Apparently it “can be profoundly healing”.

    In Stroud you always know where to look for an anthro – he’s behind you! Come on everybody – “Oh no it isn’t! Oh yes it is!”

    The organiser says the aim of his work is not to make people laugh. You don’t say! What next? Mystic Mime? Jugglers for Jesus? Suggestions please

  3. Nick Nakorn

    The new school is to be called “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Education!”, it spreads straight from the cows horn even when refrigerated and is free of all ingredients.

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