A post written by readers of this blog, “We escaped” who wish to warn others about how Steiner education can affect unsuspecting families.
[1st Sept 2016 – Please note; “We escaped” are parents who contacted me quite a while after Stop Steiner started. This is their experience, not mine. I did not send my children to a Steiner school or kindergarten, and was never a Steiner student myself – Helen.]
We are a down to earth, working class family, who do our bit for the community and try to be as green as we can be! We are intelligent and hard working and try our best to provide our son with as many opportunities as possible. We are of no religious denomination, we have good morals and ethics, and we are considered honest and trustworthy. We enjoy spending time together, we are active and spend as much time outdoors as possible!
Every parent wants the best for their child, and we are blessed to have a very fun, caring, happy, nature loving little boy. We felt that he would benefit from more attention in a smaller calmer environment,so when the time came for him to go off to school, we wanted him to be nurtured, and at the age of 4 we felt mainstream would somehow quash his identity and perhaps be too much too soon. We wanted the focus to be on his well-being, his emotional needs and for him to be accepted and cared for. Therefore we felt a smaller more ‘child centred’ approach to learning would be more suitable.
We researched many local state schools and decided on a small pre-school that he loved. Unfortunately we were not in the catchment area for him to go on to their primary school, and the only other options were mainstream schools with large class numbers. Our biggest fear was that he would be put into a box, labelled and overlooked. As a person who struggled at school, I was acutely aware of the frustrations that our son could potentially face. I didn’t want him to be written off or overlooked, simply because he didn’t conform. By no means are we saying that our son is off the scale, but there is a fuzzy zone where you can either be completely written off as a failure or you are recognised for your potential. However, we did try him in reception class and after a few months realised it wasn’t for him. The school was too big and he found the whole experience overwhelming. The teachers were lovely, our son performed well academically and scored above average. We just didn’t want him pressured and subjected to testing and scorecards and didn’t want him to be a statistic. We realise now, that our views were those of inexperienced, biased parents with a skewed view of mainstream schools.
We became aware of Steiner after spotting an advertisement in our local free paper, and to be honest it sounded wonderful! We went along to several open events and were excited about what we had found. Admittedly we did have a strange feeling about the place but we couldn’t fathom what, and although we had been warned about the ‘cult school’ by friends that knew people that had attended, the potential positives outweighed any negativity we came across. In light of this, we made sure that we asked questions on their religious stance, educational statistics, rumours of racism (all of the usual questions). Of course, the school were prepared with all of the right answers and we believed what they told us. Why would we question it? We are talking about a wonderful environment and being that’s its fee paying (please don’t take that as snobbery) you expect a level of service and honesty. In addition, at no point was Anthroposohy mentioned, so we had no cause to investigate further.
After much consideration, we decided to give it a go. We were invited to attend an interview, which adds to the aura of professionalism, and we were made to feel privileged that our son was being considered. The interview itself was incredibly personal, and it was made clear from the outset that this was an opportunity for the school to assess our suitability, and not for us to ask questions of them. We were asked about our child’s birth, his diet, vaccination history and general demeanour; our mental state after having a child; our relationship and living arrangements, and our financial status. Looking back now, it seems obvious that they were probing to find out our fears and insecurities regarding both our situation and son so as to try and exploit them at a later date. This is where our rationality left us. Considering we are fairly intelligent people, we were completely drawn in, and swallowed their sales pitch whole heartedly, on the understanding that our son would flourish in this environment. We had very high expectations.
He started in the kindergarten, and this suited us as it meant we still had every afternoon with our son and this seemed like a good balance. We liked his teacher, we thought she was just a bit airy fairy and harmless. He spent most of his day washing up, chopping veg, dressing up and playing with wool.
The first couple of weeks were OK, and we all needed to get used to the new environment and routine as we had changed our working hours to accommodate the school. Initially everyone was really friendly, but we did notice a clear difference between certain parents. There were those that seemed to spend all day at school, they looked the part (hippy-ish) and seemed to frown upon those of us that had to work and couldn’t attend bread baking sessions with only an afternoons notice.
Our son was there a month when his teacher announced in front of everyone else that he’d had a ‘difficult’ day, because he had been unable to sit still during the hour long story time. These instances became more frequent, which led to a discussion with his teacher who expressed to us that it was OK, and that he just needed to settle in more. This was followed up a few weeks later by another discussion where we were told that he was a ‘tortured soul’ and that they would prescribe extra eurythmy sessions for him to help ‘ground’ him. When we asked what the actual problem was, she said that he needed to find himself as ‘he did not know himself and had no skin’ and that it was a good job that he was not in a state school as he just wouldn’t be able to cope. Please remember, we thought we had found a paradise for our child and completely trusted them, so we were desperate to do anything to help him and work with the school. I can’t describe how heart breaking it is for someone to tell you that your child is a tortured soul, we thought he must be desperately unhappy. This was the first time anyone had ever said anything of this nature, so we were really upset and wanted to fix it.
He had eurythmy 4 mornings a week before school. He would beg and plead not to go, which is very out of character. However, we persisted with it and made sure we communicated with the eurythmy teacher to check his progress. In terms of progress, we were never given anything tangible that made any sense to us. We were still a little unsure as to what his problem was. The eurythmy teachers told us that he must wear a woollen hat at ALL times, he must eat root vegetables, except for potatoes and to rub his chest with a concoction of lavender and gold. He was also observed by the school doctor who prescribed him calcium tablets that we could only get from a certain supplier. This was to help him sleep, as his astral being was keeping him awake at night.
It is probably at this point when we should have run for the hills, but we were made to feel that there was no where else we could go and that we no other option. We had been reassured that he was in the right hands, and that mainstream would be an awful environment for him.
We were encouraged to become more involved with school activities, however, we struggled to do this during day time, as we both had to work. We did play an active role and did get involved with school fayres and events, although, despite our very best efforts, we always felt it wasn’t acknowledged and our contributions were not welcome.
Needless to say that Kindergarten was a turbulent time and not at all what we expected. Our thoughts were mirrored by other parents who also had ‘troublesome’ children.
Then came the transition to year 1, where the teacher and school Dr decide which children are suitable to progress based on observations. Our son was deemed ready to advance to the next level, when several of his peers were held back a year, but based on the Dr’s report our child had no issues that would hinder him.
Class 1 started off badly. There wasn’t an actual teacher to teach them, so they drafted in a person that was already working in the nursery department to take over. It was a class of 11 6yr olds, and from the word go it was chaos! It was painfully obvious that the teacher had no control. There were daily fights and a lot of bullying taking place. Many parents were concerned and complained. This highlighted the clear divide between the ‘normal’ parents and the Steiner parents. To us normal folk, what was happening in the class room and play ground was unacceptable and worrying. To the Steiner parents it was perfectly normal behaviour, and a direct result of ‘karma’. Children were physically and mentally hurting each other, yet despite complaints to the school from numerous parents, nothing was done.
Our son began to wet the bed (something that he never did since being toilet trained) and bit his nails so badly that they became infected. His behaviour at home drastically declined and we couldn’t understand why. We talked to him, but we now understand that the situation at school was more than he could comprehend for a 6 year old.
There were a number of parents that were very concerned regarding the health and safety at the school. The fact that the children were pretty much left to their own devices during outdoor play, only lead to more incidents. The children were allowed to climb extremely high up tress unsupervised. Children went missing from classrooms and the teacher had no idea where they were. Children were trusted to strike matches to light candles, one child even had a lighter and found it amusing to try to burn frogs in the pond. This incident deeply upset our son, we raised it with the teacher and she just laughed it off as childish play. One parent stood next to a wide open gate, next to a busy road and watched her son for 20 minutes, whilst he played unsupervised. She was horrified that her 5 year old child, was on his own, with a gate wide open for anyone to walk in, right on the path of a busy road! She complained, but was ignored. She has since moved her child to a state school. Of course if you ask the school about these incidents, they say they never happened.
We also raised concerns regarding the fact that none of the doors internal or external were locked, anyone would be able to gain access to the classrooms. Again, we were told this was not an issue and if it were they didn’t have the funds to make the site more secure.
After only a short time in Class 1 we were feeling like we had made the wrong decision. We felt our concerns weren’t being taken seriously and that they thought we were making something out of nothing. We heard parents talking about Karma and that ‘the angels are watching’. Some seemed to be OK with it while others were really angry. We did hear the word Anthrposophy but were repeatedly told it played no part in school life. We knew of 2 little girls who were bullied terribly who promptly left. We know of one child who reached year 8 and couldn’t read, he was asked to leave the school as they couldn’t help him. He had to go into mainstream education not being able to read or write, imagine how that must have made him feel.
After raising our concerns with the school, we returned home shortly before half-term to find a letter stating that the whole class had been observed and that many children were very badly behaved, and one of those was our son. We were extremely shocked and upset, as it is completely out of character. The letter stated that if his behaviour did not improve they would need to review options. He had only been in class 1 for 6 weeks, what on earth had he done to warrant such a letter? Why hadn’t anyone discussed this with us? Of course we immediately called the school and went and met with the Head of Education. She didn’t really have much information to provide us and we were upset as we felt the letter was very strong considering that this was the first time we had heard of these issues. We couldn’t understand why his teachers hadn’t raised these concerns with us? We put to the school that we felt that the behaviour we had witnessed by 10/11 six year olds was a problem and most of the parents were concerned. We also felt that it was the responsibility of the school and we felt that they were providing an environment that was promoting and allowing this type of behaviour, from all of the children. If they are going to allow children to misbehave and run riot, they will! The kids thought it was fun, what child wouldn’t?! We expected that the school would listen and take control. We spoke to a few parents regarding our letter, and they were as shocked as we were. We also discovered the majority of the kids with ‘normal’ parents had similar correspondence, but none of the Steiner children had! We were told by the school that the class had to have separate break times to the rest of the school, because they were so out of control! We are talking about 6 year olds here! Our son has been raised to respect adults and to do as your teachers ask. Because none of the children were guided or steered in the right direction regarding acceptable behaviour, it was a free for all. The school felt it appropriate to blame a class full of 6 year olds rather than look at their practices, which we felt fuelled the negative behaviour.
During this time, a little boy from our son’s class was expelled. We still don’t know why, only that the school threatened to remove the parent if she didn’t leave. The way that they asked the parent and child to leave speaks volumes. Also, we as parents had no idea that there was a problem with this child. The teacher had not mentioned anything to us or any other parents? Surely, if this child had done something so terrible, it warranted him being expelled, then surely we should at least be aware that there was an issue? The school sent the parent an email night before, informing her and her child that they were not permitted entrance to the school and they were not to return. So much for nurturing! This should provide a glimpse into the relationship between an unhappy parent and the school. How could things have got to this point? The children were confused and upset as he simply vanished and was not spoken of again.
The school implied that our son had a learning or behaviour problem, although, this didn’t surprise us, it did come a shock in the way that it was delivered and being we had already raised this point with them previously. The very reason we chose Steiner is because we knew there were areas that needed additional focus, and being that he was highly intelligent we wanted his personality to be respected and nurtured. We accept our son for who he is and we wanted to support him, and if he did have an issue we would do all we could. We had discussed this prior to us signing contracts and were assured that the Steiner school would provide the ideal environment for our child.
At home, it has been a learning experience for us too! As many parents will agree, it isn’t always as straightforward as we think and we have to revise our strategies often, as change is a constant, and we must adapt to change. We follow a routine, we set out and discuss expectations and provide guidelines, we reward good behaviour and we manage the bad. We often discuss what is acceptable and what isn’t. We provide a structure and framework on top trying to build their self esteem and self belief and providing a loving, safe environment. As parents we admit our weaknesses and failures and work to put them right. We do all of this because we want our child to be happy and feel he is safe and so very much loved.
The school stated that they had no SEN or SENCO provision and therefore we needed to have him checked out privately. The school recommended more eurythmy, rhythmical massage and art therapy, of which we had to pay extra. They even advised us to remove him from their school, put him into mainstream to get him a statement of SEN and return him once funding had been granted. We told the school that we thought that this was an abuse of public funding and that we didn’t want him going back into mainstream. They had told us repeatedly mainstream was a terrible environment for him, why would we send him back there? Not only that, they were telling us he has issues that they could not support, we knew he was way behind his mainstream peers and we were scared because we had no idea what his problem was or how to help him. Who on earth would take him on? How would we get him into another school? The school shared our concerns and said they were doing everything they could, but our son just seemed beyond the realm of help – in their eyes, he was a lost soul and he did not belong.
We accept that our child is different and needs additional support in certain aspects and it has been proven with the implementation of structure and support, he excels. We are not talking major aid here, we are talking boundary setting and clear instruction and monitoring and ensuring follow through of tasks. I guess we were completely dumbfounded and embarrassed to realise that Steiner schooling were completely incompetent and unqualified.
Our other options were for us to personally fund a support teacher, but of course they had to be Steiner qualified.
We spoke with his teacher who told us that he was constantly sent outside because he couldn’t sit still. We asked if we thought that was appropriate, especially as he was left alone next to an unlocked door, that is accessible to anyone outside. We also said we had spoken to our son and he said he had been sent out because he said God didn’t exist. The teacher’s response was to very firmly tell him God did exist and to go out of the room. She denied this, but we know our son and why on earth would a 6 year old say something of this nature if it weren’t true? We also said that he had told us he was made to pray, so we backed this up with a polite letter to say that we would like him not to be involved in such things, especially being that they are not a religious school and we are non believers (the school repeatedly told us they did not impart any doctrine and did not pray, and that all religious study was told as a story and not depicted as the truth) The teacher agreed that making him stand alone outside of the classroom wasn’t appropriate. She then had a meeting with colleagues and they decided to create a space in the classroom consisting of a wooden clothes horse and a dirty woollen rug. He would be sent there often apparently, whilst his peers made fun of him and teased him. Kids are cruel sometimes, but the teacher should have stopped this behaviour. All of the children would sit and copy from the blackboard, while our son sat there in the same room, completely isolated and excluded.
I clearly remember sitting in the car following this meeting and sobbing. I was full of many emotions, such as confusion, hurt, helplessness. I couldn’t believe that our child was in this situation.
Following the letter regarding the religious aspect, whilst collecting my son, I was pulled to one side by an upper school teacher to ask to see us the next day. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it at such short notice due to work commitments, although my husband attended. I can honestly say that before or since I have never seen my husband so angry and upset. He was told that the school was very religious, and if we didn’t like it maybe it wasn’t the school for us! Fortunately we backed up the meeting via email, so we do have evidence of what was said and how they answered our questions. We learnt at this point to document everything.
All of this is running in conjunction with each other, so apologies if it seems a little confusing – at this point we asked if we could bring in someone independent to observe our son in the classroom. After much procrastination and re-arranging appointments they decided to allow the observer (who is qualified to work with children with special needs in education) into the school. They did try to cancel, but we were firm and said that because they couldn’t offer the support for our son, we would do it ourselves as ultimately we wanted to help him.
Having the independent person go in and observe was the best thing we did! If we had not have hired her, there are many things we would still be unaware of. The independent person reported to us that she had witnessed many disturbing issues and that in the 27 years she had worked in this profession, she had never ever seen anything like it and advised us to get our son out. Her observations were mainly around the incompetence of the teacher and her lack of ability to control 11 children. The fact that the children were stood behind their desks for 50 minutes chanting, there was no actual work going on other than copying a drawing from the blackboard. She witnessed children being violent to each other, with no teacher intervention, she witnessed children running around the school unsupervised and the fact that the teacher divulged personal details about us as parents. She also raised many concerns about health and safety. In her qualified opinion, the behaviour she witnessed was created and allowed to happen. The children were confused and didn’t understand the boundaries and the teachers approach was inconsistent. The teacher also let slip numerous issues she was up against and that she felt very overwhelmed and unsupported.
The independent person submitted her findings to the school. It took the school weeks to respond to us. Of course it was full of denials and they were insulted that she had raised concern about the teacher and the health and safety, and also said that the independent person had no knowledge of Steiner so could not pass comment on what she witnessed in the classroom! We said that these issues needed to be raised as we believed our son’s behaviour was due to the situation he found himself in whilst in their care, therefore his environment was important. We also allowed this lady to come to our home to observe us as a family. She told us the boy she saw in our kitchen, was not the boy she saw in the classroom.
A concerning observation from the independent person was that our son had a constant monitor watching him at all times in the classroom. He was monitored, and notes were taken of him, however when we requested these notes for our records, we didn’t receive them? We were then told, no notes were taken. This person the “monitor” constantly watched over our sons shoulder whilst he copied from the board. When he was asked to go to the board, this monitor held him by the wrist and escorted him the 5 steps where he completed the task and she held him by the wrist the whole 5 steps back to the desk. Every time our 6 year old moved, he was accompanied by an adult, in a small room full of 10/12 people. The independent lady felt that this was unnecessary, as he did nothing to warrant his wrist being held or for him to be followed around. She felt that his personal space was being invaded at that he was being made to feel different. We also thought this was strange and alarming behaviour. We didn’t know if this was something that happened all of the time or if the school knew how awful they were performing and thought that drafting in a support person would convince us they were doing something to help? You would think that if our son had a support worker, we as parents would have least been introduced to her, let alone know that she existed?! We were upset also, that this person, that we had no knowledge of, had spent so much time with our son. Who was she? Was she a teacher? Did she have any qualifications? Did she have the necessary checks to be around our son? Who knows??
A few days later our son begged not to go to school, he was so upset. He said he didn’t want to go to eurythmy and he didn’t want weights on his ankles. We were perplexed. What did he mean weights strapped to his ankles? He proceeded to go to our store cupboard under the stairs (where we keep our outdoor shoes and sports wear) and produce ankle weights. He said that this is what he had to wear regularly. My husband is medically trained and therefore understands the implications of attaching weights to underdeveloped bodies. Being that he was 6, he could have damaged his muscles and ligaments and caused untold problems. We were outraged. Of course, we stopped the sessions at that point. When we asked why, the school denied it at first, but then relented and said it did happen but only a few times. We asked them why they thought it was OK to do this to our child without our knowledge or consent, they said they didn’t need permission as it’s viewed as PE equipment (even though the school does not do PE!) We asked what the reason was for the weights and we were told again that he did not know himself and that they were used to ground him. We asked for his progress reports and we really wanted to understand the theory and reasons as to why they felt that this was ok. Not only that, we wanted to see the supporting evidence that what they had prescribed had worked/or was working. What were they hoping to achieve?
We then made an official complaint and listed all of our grievances including the treatment of our son, health and safety, safeguarding, and religion. The complaint was passed back and forth and we didn’t get answers, just denials and nonsense. Thankfully, we have everything documented. It went on for weeks and was passed from person to person. We then appealed on the grounds that we weren’t satisfied with their response and as paying customers and concerned parents we wanted our issues addressed and answered. They never were. The appeal was rejected and they basically told us the matter was closed. The school did want us to go in and chat to the face to face, however by this point we had lost trust. We had told the school, that on the occasions we had spoken to them, they went back on what they had said and accused us of misunderstanding what they said, so we requested that anything associated with our complaint would be done in writing. We are so relieved we did, as at this point we thought we were going crazy! The responses from the school regarding our complaint were appalling and insufficient. They had not answered specific questions, and dodged many many important issues. The lies, the denials and the lack of accountability made us realise what we were up against. We couldn’t actually believe that they were for real and felt sure that they wouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. The sad fact is, they do get away with it and they are aware that they are protected as they have their own unregulated rules that are managed and administered by Steiner people! This is why they have an arrogance and sureness about themselves, they know they can do pretty much anything, and not be held to account. We were so involved and felt so vulnerable and believed everything they said about our son.
During this period, the school decided to put off their decision regarding our sons future at the school. We objected to this. The complaint we raised was in relation to their procedures, policies, processes, religious stance, safeguarding, health and safety and manhandling. The result of their decision, had nothing to do with the outcome of our complaint, so we asked very politely to have it. The school officially raised concern of sons behaviour mid-late October. The school acknowledge that our son was not malicious, naughty, rude or spiteful to others. They said that his actions were not premeditated. We asked them, if that was the case, then how do they expect him to change his behaviour in 6 weeks and if he were to do so, what support had they put in place to help him? They answer was that they felt they had done all they could. We felt that they had failed to provide a safe, nurturing, caring, calm, structured environment. We should have known at this stage, his days were numbered. These people had not got the resource, skill, competence or know how, to be worthy of looking after and educating our child. It took 6 weeks for them to send another letter informing us that we must remove our child as they could not meet his needs, even though they couldn’t tell us what his needs were. They sent this email to us late in the evening, on the day after the children broke up for Christmas. They were gracious enough to provide a month’s notice and that they would waive the terms fee. To this day, they still send us invoices! To be clear – from the first letter advising us our son’s future at the school was being reviewed, it took them 6 weeks to expel him (taking into consideration 2 week school holiday). No progress report, no structured support plan, no actual explanation of issue, no paper work to outline support in place, nothing! On paper, it’s almost as if he didn’t exist!
There are many more incidents we could mention, but we would go on for pages! The surreal festivals they ask you to attend is another point to mention. We attended a few and one in particular stands out. The children are made to sit in silence in a very dark room. They make lanterns out of paper (2 of which set on fire, in a confined space full of children!), a person dressed in a dark cloak appears from nowhere and begins telling a story. This guy frightened the majority of the adults, so imagine how the kids must have felt! Bearing in mind, these people are telling us that our child has a behavioural issue, although he managed to sit for almost an hour in silence and was even asked to begin the song. When I raised this fact with the school on that exact evening, they said he was only doing that because his teacher was watching and guiding him!
We did submit complaints to OFSTED and DfE, however because they are an independent school, they would not deal with it. Apparently Steiner schools are inspected by OFSTED, however they are Steiner people and they follow Steiner rules! They are not the same measures used in state school. It needed to go through a specialist independent services that reviews independent schools, this service is fully aware of Anthroposophy and Steiner. Why would we complain to them, knowing full well it would get fed back to the school and probably filed in the bin! This to us isn’t fair, we feel these schools should be regulated the same way that state schools are..
Obviously at this point, we didn’t want our child around these people. If they can lie and mistreat grown adults, then what are they doing to the kids. We didn’t want our child in an environment like that. We made appointments with local state schools and went to chat to a few. We came across a school who were very aware of Steiner and said that we shouldn’t worry, as he was at an age where he would catch up. The school had taken on many ex Steiner pupils and knew what they were up against! To say we were relieved is an understatement. We agreed that come January our son would join the state school. We were so very grateful, but equally scared as we still felt mainstream was still to be feared, but what choice did we have? This world, that we feared so much, were the very ones giving our son a chance! How judgemental and brainwashed we had become. All the things we had tried to escape!
As expected, his new school requested that we provide all notes, schools reports observations etc… It took weeks for us to obtain this information. Either the person with the details was away in Scotland or South Africa and didn’t have access to send details. We were shocked, as surely the school would have this info on our sons file? Why would it be with a person in Scotland or South Africa? Unless they were typing up notes upon request? To us, these notes should have been to hand immediately and sent to us straight away. What we eventually received was a joke! Comments such as, “he has a very small head, bright eyed and prefers to use his right hand”. These people are telling us that our child has an issue, and this is the evidence they have to support that?
We requested a meeting with the school in the January to discuss the matter and the next steps. We were going to tell the school our son would not return, but we wanted answers first. After weeks of emails and letters, we were prepared to meet and discuss face to face. We wanted them to see and understand our concerns and our position, we wanted them to admit they had monumentally messed up , take some responsibility and accountability for their actions and practices. We wanted them to apologise for so massively missing the mark and traumatising our child.. An apology doesn’t make things right or fix things, but its an acknowledgement. If they had just done that, it would have helped us recover and heal, just knowing that they knew and acknowledged that they had played a major role in this horrible experience.
They still could not tell us what the issue with our son was, they were more interested in silencing us and trying to make sure we didn’t repeat anything. We had raised a manhandling issue in our complaint, and has requested on numerous occasions to have a proper explanation as to why it had happened. It had been witnessed by others too. He couldn’t answer and got rather cross and announced that our son had been manhandled on numerous occasions! Well, again, news to us! If this was true, why didn’t we know about it already? Why aren’t there any progress or witness reports/notes following his eurythmy sessions? Where are all of his support documents to prove that you have done all you can to provide a safe, secure and nurturing environment? Why had he been manhandled? Who had manhandled him? They danced around the religion aspect and said our son wasn’t forced to do anything. We said that if that was the case, then why was he made to pray and chant daily behind our back? When we told them he would not return, they looked stunned and shocked, but also relieved. We had complained and been on at them for weeks with a very poor response, so I guess they were pleased to be rid of use and get us out of the way.
The processes and policies are updated and changed, each time someone raises an official concern! The complaints process is that your complaint is passed around the school teachers for them all to read and, of course, they all disagree with complaint, then you appeal, then the same set of teachers re-read and and disagree, case closed. This is what they call an investigation!
Our experience at a Steiner school was appalling. We still feel a terrible amount of guilt for subjecting our child to this and not knowing until damage had been done. We, as parents can only describe that we experienced something similar to post traumatic stress disorder, it really messed with us.
The reasons we didn’t choose mainstream were because we didn’t want him labelled, pigeon-holed and we wanted him to be an individual. Whilst he was at Steiner, he was singled out, he was ostracised in the classroom by the teacher that lead to him being teased, he was labelled and pigeon-holed and he was not treated as an individual or with respect. He turned into a child we did not recognise, we lost our boy.
Ultimately, Steiner fell short of our expectations. We are left feeling conned, hurt, and abused by the these people. Their behaviour and treatment of our child is truly shameful. One of the most disturbing facts, is that the school feel they did all they could and behaved in an appropriate manner. That says it all for us! The only thing that we are thankful for, is that we found out sooner rather than later.
We believe that the school were fully aware that they did not want us as parents at their school, because we asked too many questions. They lacked competence, compassion and skill whilst our son was in their care, maybe they did it all on purpose? The school lacked accountability, responsibility, basic knowledge of decency and respect. If our son was so bad, why let him into year 1? Why let him continue if you knew you had not got the resource, tools or knowledge to support him? We think it’s because they preyed on our weaknesses, sucked us in and spat us out, after pocketing just over £7K.
We cannot begin to put into words or describe how we suffered as a family during our time at Steiner school. Reading this back to myself, I fear that I can’t quite give an adequate explanation or detail the hurt and trauma we all went through, especially our boy. Steiner well and truly fooled us! How very sad we feel.
We were utterly ashamed of ourselves and we do take responsibility for allowing this to happen to our child. We were ignorant and did not know the truth behind the education and belief of Anthroposophy and the role it plays in school.
It is interesting to point out that the class started with 11 pupils.
9 from kindergarten and 2 new starters. 8 boy and 3 girls (7 original boys and 2 original girls)
Of the 11 children that started in the Sept, by January there were 4 of the original group and 1 newbie remaining. Down to a class of 5, we have heard that another has since left.
As a family, we have been made to suffer an experience that no-one should have to. We will retain our anonymity because we understand the nature of the people we are dealing with. We are fearful of them and are concerned for our safety. Especially after witnessing what they have done to other parents in a similar position to us. We were fully immersed in the Steiner approach, although we were not aware of the ridiculous teachings of anthroposophy, but thankfully our eyes have been opened. If we can give the unsuspecting population a well-rounded understanding of the potential disaster that could await them, then at least it will expose the lies that are shrouded in a well-manicured sales package that any parent would want for their child.
We are now happy to report, that our son is thriving in state school. He has almost caught up with reading and writing and he is over average in maths and science. More importantly, we have him back! His personality and fun loving nature have returned and he is full of love and kindness. His current school have been fantastic and we will be forever grateful for them taking on our son, knowing how far behind he was. They have given him the confidence to be himself and they encourage and nurture him. They are really pleased with his progress and think that he is a lovely intelligent little boy, who is kind and helpful to all of his classmates and is always polite and well mannered. We are over the moon and chuffed to bits for him, he is back to his usual self; very happy and looking forward to school each day.
Words that spring to mind when we hear the word Steiner!
False sense of importance
Delusions of grandeur
Safeguarding and child safety concerns/unsafe
Make their own rules