New Start for St Christophers?

St Christophers school in Bristol announced in December that it would close this year after a very bad Ofsted report where children were found to have been locked in their rooms, and management was found to be poor. An announcement followed in the press that the school had been saved by ‘Aurora Group’, who would be taking over in March this year.

According to the  school website,  Aurora group are the new owners from the beginning of this month

The rest of the website remains the same, including the references to Rudolf Steiner, and the list of anthroposophical therapies. No new Principal is in place, with Michael Frosch still in charge but “not for long” according to the receptionist I spoke to, and shortly to be replaced by current Head of Education Theresa DeLuca as Acting Principal.

So who are Aurora Group, and what do they want for St Christophers? It is not easy to find out anything about them. They have a website ‘under construction’ with next to no information, except that

“Aurora will be operating its first schools and care homes in Spring 2016.”

The CEO of Aurora Group is Stephen Wallace Bradshaw who is also listed (twice) on the Endole website (UK Company Insights) as chief Executive Director of Aurora LD Ltd, (maybe part of the group?) alongside Mr Torsten Mack, a German who lives in Germany.

Mr Bradshaw’s biography appears on the Cambian Group website, as he was appointed MD there in 2013.

Stephen is a trained teacher with a BA, BPhil in Autism and a MSC in Educational Management and has written extensively on the subject of autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.

He says on Linked in he has his own consultancy, with expertise in many areas of education start ups or turn arounds. I can’t find the consultancy on line.

He has written a book called “Asperger’s Syndrome that Explains Everything: Strategies for Education, Life and Just About Everything Else”. I haven’t read it so I don’t know if it includes anything about bad karma or individuals with autism serving as  “sacrificial mirrors for our time” as an anthroposophical doctor writes here.

I wrote to Aurora Group recently to ask Mr Bradshaw, a specialist in autism, his views on the anthroposophical  belief that increased diagnosis is due to “an epidemic of these children who are not incarnating typically”, and how this fits with his specialist knowledge.

A look at the DueDil website  lists “Aurora Care and Education Ltd” again set up in 2015, with one name only; Torsten Mack.The company is registered in London at the same address as Aurora Group, however, and has one subsidiary Aurora Care and Education Midco Limited.

It could be that the Aurora companies, not identified on line as a group, were set up specifically in response to the problems at St Christophers. As Jim mentioned here before there is considerable profit to be made in the care sector; Cambian Group, for example, mentioned above, has net worth of £81 and assets of £60 million according to company check.

Let us hope that Mr Bradshaw’s expertise in ‘turn arounds’ is sufficient for the task in hand, given that the Steiner influence still appears to be strong. It is clearly important to families to be able to place young people at a school locally, and in my opinion they would certainly be better off losing the Steiner connection as soon as possible; now seems a good time to do it.

None of these Aurora companies seem to have any links with anthroposophy – although the link to Germany may well be significant. It will be interesting to see what changes take place at St Christophers. Is there really a new broom, or will it be business as usual?


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