Steiner teacher dismissed for gross misconduct; DfE trying to close the school

Denis McCarthy was a class teacher at Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley for thirty five years. He also taught on the Teacher Training Course there. He was dismissed for gross misconduct in January this year.

In July the Department for Education announced its intention to de-register and close the school as it had been deemed unsafe for children. There is an appeal during which the school continues to operate.

As mentioned here before this “flagship Steiner school” has had serious problems for some time. There had been 39 formal complaints in one school year.

It would be nice to say that among the many problems with Steiner education, serious misconduct is not one of them, but sadly there have been instances around the world of teachers forced to leave a Steiner school because of incompetence or inappropriate conduct.

Often the same teacher has turned up in a different Steiner school, perhaps in a different country or even a different continent. This has been documented on the Waldorf Review

Removing a rotten apple then replacing it in a similar barrel is what Steiner schools seem to do. The internet means that thankfully this is becoming more difficult. Parents can find out relatively easily now about what has gone on in Steiner schools around the world.

But in August a commenter on an online article asked;

Denis McCarthy is teaching with Rudolf Steiner as a home school teacher. How does he get to teach for Rudolf Steiner if he was dismissed for gross misconduct at another school?

Indeed, Mccarthy still comes up listed on the Waldorf Inspired Home schooling description, if you search for it.

This dismissal from KL Steiner school has been reported in the Harrow Times, The Watford Observer, and the Telegraph.

“He was a senior figure in anthroposophy,” a source close to the school told The Sunday Telegraph. “He was the most powerful person in the school, he had a large following.

“The school did everything that they could to protect him: minimising or dismissing concerns, and deleting safeguarding emails.”

“He had a large following”.

Words to send a shiver down the spine of anyone who has suffered at the hands of the ‘college of teachers’ who run a Steiner school. That is how Steiner schools work. The most anthroposophical members of staff are always the most influential. They can do no wrong. Between them they run the place.  If there is a head, he or she can be relatively powerless, as The Bristol Steiner Academy principal seems to have found. And the description of how the teacher’s conduct was covered up by the KL school are also very familiar to critics. Parents are made to suffer if they complain. They and their children become the problem.

In his article “My life among them” exposing the many faults in the Steiner system due to the use of anthroposophy, whistle-blower Gregoire Perra wrote in detail about the methods used to deflect criticism and hide failings. He also mentions frequent inappropriate relationships in the schools. These occupational hazards have been known about for years.

It is worrying but not surprising to find that Denis Mccarthy is also the author of several books on children and play.  Titles include “If you turned into a monster”, “Speaking about the unspeakable” and “Helping things fall apart”.

We are not told the nature of the misconduct.  The definition is misconduct so serious that the employer is entitled to dismiss for a first offence. There are clues in the latest Ofsted report;

Leaders have failed to identify that the culture of close relationships at the school puts pupils at risk. Professional boundaries between staff, parents and pupils are not maintained. Staff, including senior leaders, do not follow the school’s own policies on social media access. Parents arrange for pupils to see their teachers, and former teachers, off the school site. This culture is unchanged, despite known serious safeguarding failings;


Whatever the offence, others at the school were were willing to put children at risk and cover it up. No wonder the DfE want to close the school; it sounds rotten to the core.

To those of us who have spent years observing what anthroposophy does to people in positions of trust, this latest state of affairs in Hertfordshire is not a surprise.  What is a surprise is the length of time it is taking for the authorities and the media to realise that the Steiner system poses a considerable threat to children, vulnerable members of society, employees, and indeed anyone in their midst.

We now have state funded Steiner schools in the UK. How can this be, and what will be done about it?






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