This independent residential Steiner school in Bristol provides “education, care and therapy” for children with special educational needs (SEN) and is to close in March 2016.
Last night a SEN specialist interviewed on BBC Points West stated that the latest OFSTED inspection had resulted in a rating of “inadequate”. The findings of the report do not seem to be available yet.
This is not mentioned in the announcement from the Principal Michael Frosch on the school’s website, where he states that St Christopher’s has become economically unviable due to reducing referral numbers and changes to legislation and inspection standards.
I am reminded of the Steiner school in Aberdeen which closed because staff would not change their Steiner ways to comply with modern inspection standards.
Worryingly there is a plan to see if “the charity could re-establish itself”.
Why is this worrying?
Because the anthroposophical attitude to conditions such as Autism , where it is viewed as a consequence of karma is not a sound framework for education, care or therapy where vulnerable young children and adults are involved. This *special* Steiner view of learning difficulties is not widely publicised, and many supporters of Steiner schools and Camphill are not aware of it.
Perhaps the charity is hoping to operate in a similar way to the couple who left Botton Camphill when the authorities decided to take more interest in working practises there.
The Steiner movement supply a demand for special education, but often without sufficient openness about their belief system or “philosophy” as they would rather call it. Without the opportunity to live their anthroposophical lifestyle whilst carrying out their work, many of those who run such schools and homes would simply not be doing so, and yet the public, the families who place children there often have no idea that an esoteric religion with occult belief in karmic consequences is there at the centre of it all.
Is it right to subject young people to therapies and practices according to the doctrine an Austrian mystic because his followers believe his clairvoyant visions provided the last word on so-called “curative” education?
I don’t think so. There should be a lot more curiosity about what goes on in Steiner care homes and special schools. If the people in charge don’t want to carry on unless they can continue their Steiner habits, we should ask ”Why not?”