Still on the subject of Steiner school inspection reports, here is another one that didn’t go so well – although this is not immediately obvious from the way it is written.
A post on the Waldorf Review facebook page linked to the School Inspection Service and the Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley, where an inspection was carried out in March this year.
Although the school seem delighted with the report, Kings Langley
“did not meet the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014…”
and so a progress monitoring report was produced last month. We are told that the school was given no prior notice of this latest visit.
Failures were noted in the following areas in March:
- the provision for pupils’ welfare, health and safety
- the suitability of staff, supply staff and proprietors
- the suitability of the premises and the accommodation
- the quality of leadership and management
The DfE also asked inspectors to examine the quality of the school’s safeguarding procedure following safeguarding incidents at the school and complaints from parents.
The inspection reports for independent schools are not always straight forward and easy to interpret, even once you have located them, and an initial reading of the March inspection report gave the strong impression that the school was performing satisfactorily in most areas, with most sections beginning with the word “satisfactory”, but at the end of each section there is the question
Does the school meet the requirements for registration?
And the answer in relation to all the points listed above, is “no”.
In the progress monitoring report standards were still not being met in these four areas, and several safeguarding issues were also highlighted.
- Proper medical checks and references for staff were not being made.
- Risk assessments are out of date.
- The management of the school does not monitor and hold individuals to account effectively for their work.
- Safeguarding arrangements are not yet good enough.
Furthermore there was not enough discussion about an issue which was “dealt with as a complaint but should have been a child protection issue and had been wrongly filed”.
The school has not investigated either fully or impartially important matters that were raised by parents nor considered them in the broader context of risk to children. There is a lack of communication between those handling complaints and those in charge of child protection.
At the end of the monitoring report there is a list of 9 actions to be taken in order for the school to be “compliant with regulatory requirements”. No date is given by which these actions must be taken.
In March the inspectors declared themselves generally satisfied and were especially impressed with the “quality of work in art, music and eurythmy”. Spiritual and moral development were considered outstanding. The inspectors also like the
“…attention to main lesson and the spiritual rhythms of the year … fulfils its aim of developing “head, heart and hand”.
The school is described as having good links with the Steiner Waldorf Schools fellowship (as though this were a good thing). The report mentions in passing that
“some parents have expressed concern on how the school is run”.
All in all it is clear that this report was written by people who are very familiar with Steiner education and support it. The lead inspector Martin Bradley was a sponsor governor of the Hereford Steiner Waldorf Academy and another inspector Julie Neale was a Steiner teacher for years.
Basically Steiner education is inspecting itself, with predictable results.
The outcome of the monitoring report, where several important aspects of running a school are not good enough, is not made clear. The school still can’t be bothered to check out their staff properly or put proper safeguarding procedures in place. It is difficult to imagine a mainstream state funded school getting away with this in an inspection not once but twice, without a fuss.
Parents who choose independent Steiner schools seem willing to put up with a lot more failings than those whose children go to the local state school, although according to these reports there are some who are unhappy and not quite sure what to do about it. The issues they raise are not properly addressed.
The “whitewashing” of Islamic schools by Ofsted inspectors found to have links with radical Islamic organisations caused a scandal in 2010. It seems that Steiner school inspections are similarly uncritical, with ongoing failings in important areas, but is this ringing any alarm bells at the Department for Education?