I normally have the luxury now of writing only when I feel like it, but sometimes there is something important that parents need to know about Steiner businesses.
So here we go again, sooner than I thought.
Within a very short time since my last post, I find that a local Steiner “setting” has recently been judged inadequate by Ofsted. The Children of One End Street Steiner kindergarten in Stroud run by Marie Louise Waring, another paid up affiliated business listed by the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship, was inspected on May 17th this year, with the following result;
Summary of key findings for parents
This provision is inadequate
Yet another failure within the Steiner system which claims such superiority over mainstream provision. Despite outcomes that are deemed good for children at this nursery, the overall judgement is that children are at risk. Failures are in effectiveness of the leadership and management and in personal development, behaviour and welfare.
I had to hunt for this report, my curiosity piqued by a distinct lack of information on the Kindergarten website apart from the usual dollop of Steiner claptrap about “breathing” and “rhythms” that we see in all their promotional material. The owner’s name is absent from the website, as is the address. Strange for a children’s nursery.
Alongside criticism of the way the nursery is led and managed, a statement about failure to improve since the last inspection is particularly telling;
The provider/manager has not evaluated the provision since their last inspection. She has failed to identify breaches in requirements or identify where they can make improvements in their practice
In other words, they gave Ms Waring a chance to improve standards, and she didn’t.
If you have read my last two posts on poor Ofsted reports for Steiner schools, you will notice the pattern where leaders simply do not want to change. Their methods are based on the anthroposophy that is deeply ingrained during their training, and sometimes during their own Steiner education as children. They cannot understand that their Steiner ethos can be substandard in any way, and are reluctant to alter anything. This unwillingness to change persists for years.
Some of the changes that had to be made by 31st May in order to meet the requirements of the early years foundation stage and the Childcare Register were to provide records of staff qualifications and CRB checks, and to monitor when children arrive and leave. It’s not rocket science, but clearly since Ms Waring has not made the effort to comply since 2015 she does not see safeguarding as a priority, much like the Steiner Academy in Bristol, and the Kings Langley Steiner school. There is no indication from Ofsted of whether these changes were made in time. One End Street will be inspected again within 6 months, but in the meantime there is no way of knowing whether the children are safe or not. The kindergarten is only open 3 days a week, so there has been ample time for Ms Waring to see to these issues during the last two years.
There is no mention at all of Rudolf Steiner or the SWSF on the Website for this kindergarten. Plenty of recognisable references to Steiner’s belief system for those already familiar with it ( the ominous “Home Visits” and “Tights for both boys and girls, topped with thick socks, not summer weight…”) but no mention of anthoposophy by name or of how the inspections went.
I am worried about the local children who are sent to this kindergarten. Not just because of safeguarding, but because their parents are ill-informed about it being a Steiner “setting” and what that means for their child. How can families guard against indoctrination into a cult when they do not know they are entering one? Surely inspection reports should be provided on the website?
Perhaps parents will find this blog and begin to do some research of their own.