Steiner Academy Exeter was recently inspected by Ofsted and the report has been published.
The school has been judged as “requiring improvement”, with particular concerns about behaviour, the quality of teaching and the leadership and management of the school. Out of the five criteria for assessment all are unsatisfactory except the Early Years provision;
|Leadership and management||Requires improvement|
|Behaviour and safety of pupils||Requires improvement|
|Quality of teaching||Requires improvement|
|Achievement of pupils||Requires improvement|
|Early years provision||Good|
The findings are not surprising in view of what parents have been saying for months about bullying, lack of discipline and the attitude of the “leadership team” to issues raised by parents. This state funded school is one where
“… policies underpinning safeguarding in the academy including safer recruitment, anti-bullying, special educational needs and child protection do not meet current statutory guidance.”
Achievent of pupils is of particular concern;
“Achievement in mathematics is broadly two years behind students of comparable ages in other settings,”
but although “students are generally making better progress in English than in mathematics”.
The most able students lack techniques for writing effectively across a range of genre …[and show]…little progress in using correct grammar and punctuation over the year.
The principal Alan Swindell is an anthroposophist who has spent his working life in the Steiner movement and thinks there is nothing wrong with a school based on a bizarre cult and making out there is nothing for parents to worry about. On the school website, the meet the team page provides a list of staff members and their qualifications. Two of the five class teachers on the list are qualified, with one of those an RE specialist. Where are the details for classes four and five? I don’t know. The other teachers have all been trained in anthroposophy and may well be previously known to Alan Swindell who was involved in Steiner teacher training, according to his biography.
|Some parents who choose Steiner schools are aware that the quality of teaching in academic subjects will not be a priority and are willing to overlook this in return for what they see as the education of the “whole child” – a so-called holistic education. Yet even in these areas the Exeter Academy has been found to be providing an inadequate education;
In a bizarre statement about democracy;
Not a democratic school, then. Another significant problem is that
Even by Steiner standards this school is underperforming.
This report together with the quotes form parents in the local press amounts to a tragic failure by the government to provide a decent standard of education for the children of parents who thought Steiner education seemed like a good idea.
My own opinion on the reason why this school was not put into special measures as a result of this report is that the task of lifting the academy out of its difficulties is too difficult and bewildering to contemplate. With a Principal who has spiritual science as his guiding light and staff who fully endorse this worldview, how on earth do the Department for Education start to tackle these problems? The DfE may only now be realising what they are dealing with.
As a school requiring improvement the Academy will be inspected again within two years. Big deal. In the meantime the parents who are not familiar with anthroposophy and now wish they had never heard of Steiner look for ways to minimise the damage to their children’s progress.