Steiner Academy Exeter; Parents are Not Happy

Steiner Academy Exeter has been working hard at getting parents to give feedback on the school on the Parent View page of the Ofsted website.

Last time I wrote about this there had only been 21 responses, now there are 115.

So what do we find in terms of how happy parents are with the school which opened under 2 years ago? Sadly, a great deal of disappointment for families who must have anticipated a good education and a happy experience for their child at a new Academy.

Look at the figures;

This school makes sure its pupils are well behaved;                    34% disagree and 6% don’t know

This school is well led and managed;                                            27% disagree and 8% don’t know

This school deals effectively with bullying;                                    30% disagree and 17% don’t know

This school deals effectively with concerns I raise;                       29% disagree

26% would not recommend this school to another parent

Compared with other schools these results are extremely poor. I tried looking at the results for a variety of schools and none were anywhere near as bad as this.

Problems stem from anthroposophy, where there is a belief in karma, and have been going on in Steiner schools for almost a century. The fact that Exeter is a gleaming new state-funded academy has not erased the problems; the belief system remains the same and it is used in the same way; spiritual development as specified by Rudolf Steiner is the aim of Steiner education; all his  hierarchies, etheric bodies, elemental beings, post Atlantean epochs and crazy imaginary ideas about history, science and religion, this is what the Steiner movement thinks is important, not the effective running of a school or making sure children do not suffer.

The  bullying and poor standards of behaviour are not difficult to understand when you read a little about how karma is viewed in anthroposophy, but the fact that Steiner schools are often poorly run is harder to explain; in his accounts of life within the movement Gregoire Perra has explained how teachers struggle to do their jobs whilst working in an environment where their  own spiritual development is as important as the teaching they do; they are expected to meditate and follow Steiner’s doctrine according to the directions from the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship and ultimately from Dornach.

It is not difficult to see that with all this specialised extra “personal development” going on, the priorities of Steiner teachers are not necessarily those we would expect of a state school teacher.

Whatever the reasons for choosing a Steiner education these unsuspecting parents made a decision to reject mainstream in favour of something they thought was better, and for many this has proved to be a mistake. This mistake has been made all over the world for decades and children have suffered because the extent to which anthroposophy is used has been hidden and denied; in short there is deception, and now with state-funded free schools and academies, the deception is on a grand scale.

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6 comments

  1. Steve

    Steiner schools have been state funded in New Zealand for decades, but many people have used the fact that it’s an incredibly bullying nation as a whole to hide all the problems with children’s welfare in Steiner schools there. Or to excuse it.

    In our research, we see no difference to how a Steiner school deals with such matters, whether it is public or private, and wherever in the world it may be.

    The school our children went to was private. One of only two Steiner schools in NZ that are. All the others are publicly funded and we have story after story (many of which we sadly can’t publish) of problems with discipline within those schools.

    But how can that surprise anyone when one of the marked characteristics of a Steiner-Waldorf school is that “pedagogical methods [will be] used in dealing with discipline”? (according to a Dornach document all Federations signed)

    Why do we keep getting positive article after positive article about how great this fastest growing alternative education is? So much information is out there now, and yet still, parents don’t know what they’re getting themselves into.

  2. Helen

    “But how can that surprise anyone when one of the marked characteristics of a Steiner-Waldorf school is that “pedagogical methods [will be] used in dealing with discipline”? (according to a Dornach document all Federations signed)”

    – yes, exactly. It’s as if people think any state-funded school will be fine just because it is state-funded, as though that is a magic wand.

    “….and yet still, parents don’t know what they’re getting themselves into.”

    – well, I’ve been thinking about this (!) and there is a real need for a high-profile public information campaign to raise awareness that there is a belief system at work here BEFORE people even consider Steiner education. I know that’s what we’re all trying to do by talking about this, but it seems it is no good approaching people after they have already come across Steiner in some form and have been attracted in by the pretty parts of it. It’s too late by then, and people have already made up their mind and say “so what if there’s some weird cult at the centre of it all, I haven’t come across it in my dealings with them”.
    By that time they already see themselves as identifying with it in some way, whether it’s the songs their children have learnt in kindergarten or the veg they have bought from the co-operative.
    To look in depth at that point and then find something wrong is not something they want to do, it is admitting they have been duped, and they would rather carry on as they are.
    If there was already a general awareness that anthroposophy exists at least there is something to look into before parents consider where to take or send their child.
    Maybe in Stroud there is more general awareness now, I’m not really sure.
    Keep plugging away I suppose, so the information becomes more easy to find when people do start looking.

    • Jim

      I’m not sure the awareness in Stroud is very high, or maybe deep is the better word. Perhaps familiarity is a problem. Everyone knows someone who’s a bit Steiner, sends their child to school or nursery etc, and they seem nice friendly people so what’s the problem? Could it be that a bit less familiarity might lead to more curiosity?

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