Steiner student graduated in medicine

A correspondent to the Stroud News and Journal this week claims that there is nothing to worry about with Steiner schools –  he is the living proof; following a Steiner education and National Service, John Walters says he went to Edinburgh University and studied medicine, and worked as a National health doctor all his life.

He says my advice to parents to thoroughly research Steiner education before signing up makes him smile, as I should follow my own advice; presumably because I did not know about his successful career.

Rather than writing to the SNJ again, I respond here.

I assume he means “doctor” as in mainstream medicine, not the anthroposphical version also available funded by the National Health Service in Stroud, where illness is seen as a result of “karma”.

I do not know what qualifications he came out of school with, or what the required grades were for medical school in those days, but is a sad fact that a student leaving Hereford Steiner Academy last year would have had a hard time trying to gain the A levels to study medicine; no science GcSEs were on offer for these children, just the BTEC in Countryside and Environment.”

The required A levels for Edinburgh at the moment are AAAb including chemistry at A2. The Student Room explains “science subjects”;

Typically medical schools are talking about Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Maths when they talk about “science subjects”. These can be further narrowed down to the “laboratory” or “experimental” sciences which are Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

Mr Walters says that there are many old Steiner scholars in Stroud who contribute a lot to our community. I am very glad to hear it and am not suggesting in this blog that all “old Steiner scholars” become dropouts from society, or are not valuable members of the community. I am glad to hear that Mr Walters who attended a fee-paying school and was commissioned in the Army feels that he has had a successful career, but I fear that this could have been despite his Steiner education, not because of it.

This year Hereford promise science and additional science in accordance with the guidelines for the new “project 8″ system of grades, where most students will be required to study a minimum of eight subjects from a specified range to GCSE level. The fact sheet on progress 8 says

The Progress 8 measure is designed to encourage schools to offer a broad and balanced curriculum at KS4, and reward schools for the teaching of all their pupils.

Hereford say;

Students not looking to complete a full Achievement 8 range are supported to complete a freestanding qualification known as a Project (at either Foundation or Higher level). These Projects provide students with an opportunity to carry out a study in depth, based on personal interest or an aspect of a subject they are studying, presented in a media that suits their individual strengths and learning style. 

Only 29% of the class at Hereford Steiner Academy achieved 5 or more A*- C grade GCSEs in 2014, so it will be interesting to see the percentages for progress 8 when they are published in 2016. The performance data this year will be calculated in the same way as in 2014.

No doubt Steiner proponents will maintain they are not interested in statistics and would prefer to slide under the radar altogether as far as league tables go, but for those interested in finding out which schools are offering students a decent standard of education, as is their right to expect from a state-funded school – especially those who may aspire to a career similar to that of Mr Walters, these results stats will be very valuable.


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