Why was this bid to set up a Steiner School rejected?

(93 Posts)
nlondondad Tue 09-Jul-13 16:04:04

The background to this story is in the original posting on thread

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/education/1792362-What-do-you-think-of-the-plan-for-a-new-free-School-in-Islington

One of the things that has started to come up is the interesting point that there were TWO competing Bids to set up a Free School on the old Ashmount site. Bellevue Place Ltd won this competition defeating the bid from a group of parents who wanted to set up a Steiner School. Why did the Steiner bid fail?

The Steiner Bid was led by parents and teachers at the fee paying Steiner primary in Hornsey. (The plan was, if they had succeeded to move that school to be the primary section of the new, all through Steiner School on the Ashmount Site.) As such, surely it was just the sort of group that the Free School idea was set up to support was it not? And the DFE has no problem with Steiner in view of the other Steiner Schools it has approved.

The Steiner Free School was to be all through, age 4 to 19, so they cannot have been planning for more than one form entry, possibly less than thirty at that. At the moment in London there is no secondary steiner provision at all, with a few fee paying, private, Steiner schools. The Hornsey School's existence already demonstrates prior core demand. Steiner people tend to be very committed, not that well heeled, and so greatly welcome being able to have state funded Steiner provision, rather than having to pay for it as they usually do. This school would have drawn support from Steiner adherents at least from all over London. There are millions of people living within a 45 minute commute by public transport, London is like that, and no doubt Steiner families would have chosen to move into the general area as well.

I have no doubt they would have filled their places, and also that they would have had no impact on recruitment on local schools as Steiner people are such a minority, and the school small in numbers anyway. (As both bidders were planning to refurbish the existing old Ashmount building they are the same in that regard. And, I would say, are, on that point, both equally misguided)

However on getting "evidence of demand" they left nothing to chance.
You see they made a really big effort. They had a stall down at Crouch End Broadway several saturdays running, distributing leaflets, talking to anyone, who like me, wanted to know more. They handed out leaflets on several occasions to commuters leaving Archway and Highgate tubes in the evening, and leafleted through the doors of the area local to the proposed site. There were leaflets in the local libraries and good, local press coverage. Bellevue did NONE of this at all. Despite what they say on their web site they never did go out on the streets.

So what did Bellevue have they did not?

nlondondad Tue 09-Jul-13 23:04:07

I am afraid what I seem to have mainly found out so far from starting this thread is that some people do not like Steiner Schools; but I knew that already...

The question I was posing was why did the Steiner bid to be given, free of charge, a site in Islington that would have cost them at least three million pounds to pay for defeated by a proposal without any demand being shown put forward by a private for profit company.. given that the Steiner bid was actually made by local parents and that Steiner schools have been accepted for tax payer funding elsewhere.

And by the way the decision is purely Mr Gove's to make not Islington, and actually Islington Council do not want to have a school there as they say the places not needed.

I refer you back to the other "free School in Islington" thread for more information on who did win.

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/education/1792362-What-do-you-think-of-the-plan-for-a-new-free-School-in-Islington

VivaLeBeaver Wed 10-Jul-13 06:25:45

Why do you say no demand? I'm sure a new school will be utilised by local families. If a new school was proposed here I wouldn't get involved with it at a planning stage, I'm not that sort of person. The majority of people in life are either apathetic about such matters or too busy. However if a good local school opens they will use it.

A Steiner school is a niche market, many wouldn't send their kids there. The council have to look at sustainability.....even if there's a cluster of Steiner parents locally now is this likely to still be the case in five years time after their kids have left? Are there as many local Steiner kids as local non Steiner kids? I doubt it.

AuntieStella Wed 10-Jul-13 06:40:12

Viva: look at the doc I linked. Unless Islington are saying that they can and will sustain the number of bulge classes they and neighbouring boroughs created this year to meet demand, then there aren't enough places.

Crumbledwalnuts Wed 10-Jul-13 06:50:53

It would be nice to see more Steiner schools, I think they do cater for a certain sort of child who learns in a different way to most children. I would have loved a Steiner for one of my children - in hindsight it would have been marvellous. But we couldn't afford it and there was so much silliness around about Steiner schools - I wish I knew then what I know now.

AuntieStella Wed 10-Jul-13 07:01:34

There's been at least one Free Steiner school approved (Somerset) and the one that exists in Islington applied to convert. Perhaps to meet the demand for this type of education in London, pursuing the St Paul's conversion is the way ahead?

CarpeVinum Wed 10-Jul-13 07:07:39

Might be because recently there has been a big push for governement bodies involved to take a closer look at what a Gnome Loving School entails, their history, background and rather tight lipped approach to fully explaining to prospective parents what informs their educational bent.

The Catholic schools don't shove the Madonna in a cupboard and pretend she has bugger all to do with their ethos. The Steiners, somewhat less forthcoming.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 10-Jul-13 07:57:11

crumbled It is far from nice seeing money that could be spent on local schools that desperately need it (I live in a county with almost the absolute lowest government spend per head on education in the country) spent instead bailing out a fee paying school that nobody wanted (if people wanted it it wouldn't have gone under). People are now moving to an area with a housing shortage to go to this lunatic school, to be told that the aryan archetype is the pinnacle of humanity. Nice? Not the word I'd choose.

curlew Wed 10-Jul-13 09:29:10

Don't forget that you aren't fully incarnate til your incisor teeth come through.

It's not all lovely wooden toys and playing in the woods.

FannyMcNally Wed 10-Jul-13 17:37:16

That reminds me of an OU course where I had to compare and contrast my own educational setting with, among others, a Steiner setting. I had to listen to a Steiner teacher tell us that they didn't teach reading until the child's adult teeth started coming through and was tempted to write that luckily our setting didn't rely on the size of a child's mouth to indicate academic readiness.

There was an Mner who described their approach to education as 'bampottery'. A lovely word!

metranilvavin Wed 10-Jul-13 18:49:28

Russians - are you where we are? Here the feepaying Steiner in the next town reversed itself into a free school - the two bids weren't linked, and the next thing you know, the fee-paying one has closed down.

I can confirm that they are loons, from experience. I went, thinking like that BBC article and everyone else that this was just nice kindly schooling, to their toddler group, and after two terms, backed politely away nodding and smiling. It is like a cult, and having seen the playgroup leader spending all morning cutting corners off paper so that it didn't damage children's psyches, rather than interacting with the children, it's a particularly bonkers one.

WouldBeHarrietVane Wed 10-Jul-13 19:01:10

I used to live in N1 and met several parents who claimed they were rejected by the Steiner toddler group - they were told it was mysteriously full and felt it was a question of face didn't fit.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Wed 10-Jul-13 19:06:07

Wow Islington Council rejected a school proposition from an esoteric cult with strange ideas about race, ethnicity, hierarchy, past lives and healthcare. That must be the first sensible decision they've ever made.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Wed 10-Jul-13 19:07:11

IIRC Steiner schools don't interfere in bullying because it's just past life tensions reasserting themselves.

nlondondad Wed 10-Jul-13 19:10:00

@VivaLeBeaver when I say "no demand" for the profit making company's school I mean it in two senses:-

1. As of last week all children in the area applying for a local place starting in 2013 have one, and there are seven vacant places. (And there will be more vacant places by the time the Autumn term starts as some people will have moved away between January and September). So as measured by the actual figures, this year no demand.

2. When you make a Free School application you have to show "evidence of demand." The Steiner school was able to do this, as they could show demand from a very wide area, but the Bellevue Ltd school has produced no evidence that there was demand from the area it proposes to serve. Which based on the admissions figures is not a surprise.

nlondondad Wed 10-Jul-13 19:19:57

@TondelayoSchwarzkopf

Oddly enough I am getting the impression from posts like yours that a high proportion of people opposed to Steiner School's either have short attention spans or cant be bothered to read. Embarrassing that as I have always objected to state funding of religious schools, including Steiner. Oh well.

For the umpteenth time! ISLINGTON COUNCIL DO NOT WANT A FREE SCHOOL AT ALL.

They DID NOT reject the Steiner School, Mr Gove did despite approving a number of Steiner schools elsewhere in the country, instead he is giving the site, free, to a commercial company which he preferred to the Steiner school. Now why was that? I would like to know...

AuntieStella Wed 10-Jul-13 19:32:17

The only reason there are "spare" places is because 80 bulge class places were created.

Have all those schools increased their capacity permanently? The estimates for future years show a continuing shortfall for several years to come, but I think that counts only normal, not bulge, places.

nlondondad Wed 10-Jul-13 19:52:23

AuntiStella.

Good point, the capacity is, in fact, being created permanently.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Wed 10-Jul-13 20:31:27

I can't be bothered to read anything about Steiner schools. It is a joke that they are state-funded. So it was Michael Gove who rejected it. Good. That's possibly the only decision he'll ever make that I agree with.

WouldBeHarrietVane Wed 10-Jul-13 20:36:13

Why do you care op?

And how do you know Bellevue weren't out drumming up support?

curlew Wed 10-Jul-13 20:46:04

I have a sneaking suspicion that the OP might just be something to do with the Steiner bid. Have I guessed right? Have I? Have I?

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 10-Jul-13 20:57:52

I don't think so. I think the OP is concerned about the reasons the Bellvue bid was accepted when we know that Gove has no problem with Steiner schools qua Steiner. As I would be if I still lived in Islington. Despite being generally very opposed to Steiner schools.

Crumbledwalnuts Wed 10-Jul-13 21:33:22

I've just been reading about Steiner schools and how they've influenced mainstream education in Europe. Sounds good. I know two people who've had very positive experiences of Steiner schools. The problem with fee-paying is it's such a huge risk on something that people are so awful about. You have to be very convinced it seems to go down that route. I think having state Steiner schools is a really good idea.

curlew Wed 10-Jul-13 21:53:37

Crumbledwalnuts- honestly, dig a bit deeper. On the surface, Steiner looks fantastic, but it isn't. Yes, you will meet people who have come through it well, but ask about bullying. Ask about special needs. Ask about G and T. On all of those Steiner schools fall down.

Crumbledwalnuts Wed 10-Jul-13 22:15:42

No, I know two people who used Steiner for their children who "learned differently" - there was nothing wrong with them, they were just different kinds of learners. Doing brilliantly now but they had a very slow, relaxed start. It sounds like it would have been perfect in fact for one of my children who was very close to having a special needs diagnosis. He went to conventional schools and really struggled with the homework and the pressure.

Crumbledwalnuts Wed 10-Jul-13 22:17:20

This was in Europe, but aren't the philosophies the same everywhere? Perhaps being more mainstream in Europe, they escape the intensiveness of schools in the UK which seem to be (quite frankly) vilified for dubious reasons indeed. The same people who moan about hothousing and pushy parenting and tutoring also vilify Steiner, it seems. That doesn't make any sense to me.

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