Steiner Free Academy In Exeter

(49 Posts)
sannaville Tue 29-Jan-13 14:02:51

Hi all, dd2 is a late August birthday and had a bit of a rough start. She doesn't like preschool much and I'm not entirely sure she will adjust well to your average reception class. I've seen the new Steiner free Academy will be opening this year in exeter and am considering this as an option.

Does anyone know much about it and will it differ much from the traditional Steiner paying schools ? I've read they can be quite cult like. Unfortunately there's no Montessori in Exeter and we can't afford private school anyway. All views welcome!

Thanks

My DD goes to Steiner and it is definitely not cult like (unless you are talking about the different cults/groups in the school gate parents who range from the hippy-chic-walk-every-where cult over there versus the designer-clothed 4 x 4 gang who park over there) grin

Why not go to the school and have a look around? The best advert for any school is the children who go there.

I'd advise reading up on the methodology of Steiner, but also be aware there is a lot of bullshit written on the net. My DDs school does not teach gnomes are real (but does do a lovely Gnome Garden for the Yule Fete), nor does it ban black paint and crayons, the dolls have faces and some of the pre-7 year olds even read (self/parental taught).

Having said that, all schools are different, and just as there are good and bad state and private schools, so there are good and bad Steiner schools.

If it's a free academy there is likely to be a lot of competition to get into the school too. The Hereford Steiner Academy is vastly oversubscribed.

sannaville Tue 29-Jan-13 14:37:56

Thanks so much for replying I will definatley go and have a look.

basildonbond Tue 29-Jan-13 17:31:53

I am appalled that the state is funding any form of Steiner education

Have a look through some of the old topics on here (if you can find any that haven't been pulled hmm)

Our experience of Steiner was frankly hideous and one I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy: being taught that gnomes were real? yes; no black crayons and wishy-washy colours everywhere? yes; no faces on dolls? yes; a blind eye turned to bullying as it was the victim's karma? yes and the real biggy for us and the thing which made us run wildly for our local primary as soon as it had a place ... apparently ds's soul had been imperfectly reincarnated into his body (he has special needs) - yes really!

go and have a look if you must but bear in mind that NONE of the above was so much as hinted at during the open day we went to

(we moved back to the UK three weeks before ds was due to start reception hence even considering Steiner as an option)

sannaville Tue 29-Jan-13 18:48:50

Thank you basil good to hear all opinions

nlondondad Wed 30-Jan-13 13:52:27

Steiner is an esoteric religion. If you would have no qualms about sending your child to a school run by a religious faith that you were not part of, then I suppose you would not have a problem. Except you would be wise to check what the religion teaches. As Steiner is esoteric, this is made difficult as the "true" or "full teaching" is only made available to an elite inner group "The First Class" with different levels of involvement for people outside the "first class" So you only get told about the gnomes (for example), when it is reckoned you are ready for the teaching.

So opinions tend to polarise between those whose children went to Steiner, particularly in early years, and liked it and ex steiner people who feel bitter, and conned. Both these opinions have already appeared here, in this thread.

Snusmumriken Wed 30-Jan-13 14:14:21

I was considering sending DS to a Steiner school until I read about their ideas on race. I am not suggesting that all Steiner schools are racist, but it is very worrying when their philosophy is informed by a racist ideology.

Not racist as explained here

Incidentally, one of the Waldorf Education system's most famous alumni, the President of American Express (Ken Chenault) is black and was his class president.

As for those gnomes, perhaps if Steiner had referred to them as "earth energies" (which is what he is actually referring to) people wouldn't get so wound up about them? The concept of both reincarnation and earth energies, whilst in the realms of woo, are hardly unpopular amongst the general population. And it's definitely not a religion, though the philosophy does draw on Christian mysticism.

I'm more worried that my DD's school seems to turn out a lot of accountants...

Snusmumriken Wed 30-Jan-13 18:14:03

Worldgonecrazy- I am not sure what your point is, considering that many successful black people have gone to schools that had a racist ideology.

sannaville Wed 30-Jan-13 19:32:49

I had already read up on the fact that yes Waldorf was racist - but the Steiner schools have long since moved on since those many moons ago times otherwise I wouldn't consider it as we are most def not racist.

Please someone explain the gnome thing to me?? Why does it get people's backs up so much? They're only gnomes!!!

I personally liked the fact they did more old school style teaching ie learning times tables by heart, learning traditional long division etc (neither of which happens at dds school!) also like the outdoorsy stuff.

I just do think traditional mainstream is for everyone.

I'm not religious, christened yes, religious no, not against religion, just don't practise it.

sannaville Wed 30-Jan-13 19:33:23

**just don't think**

basildonbond Wed 30-Jan-13 20:38:13

well would you really want your child to be taught science by someone who genuinely believed that gnomes were real? I'd assumed they were just a symbol, but no, ds's 'teacher' explained to us with a completely straight face (she had a complete sense of humour bypass anyway) that gnomes really did exist ...

more seriously do you feel comfortable with an ideology that believes in reincarnation and that people with any kind of special need must have done something wrong in a previous life meaning that their soul hadn't properly reincarnated into their current body

when ds joined the school we'd been completely frank about his neurological issues, given them letters from Great Ormond Street, tried to explain how it might affect his behaviour and had been surprised when they weren't interested at all ... however we were summoned to a meeting a few months after he started at which they told us that they didn't believe he had any neurological problems, instead they had 'diagnosed' faulty reincarnation. When I said I wasn't prepared to have a conversation about my son along those lines they said that was fine but I'd have to understand that all the staff at the school would be dealing with him in that light

sannaville Wed 30-Jan-13 21:02:42

I wonder if the various Steiner schools differ? Like you get good and bad mainstream do you think? Also as this one is going to be a free Academy is that likely to make it any different to any other Steiner?

I will add gnomes and special needs to my list of questions to take with me!! Im going with an open mind but I have a list going and of I don't get answers to my questions then I won't take it further

"and that people with any kind of special need must have done something wrong in a previous life "

I guess you don't want any Hindus teaching your children then?

I am not sure what your point is, if you'd read the link, the point is that Steiner Schools are not racist, and that Steiner himself was not racist but admitted to a poor choice of language. Steiner Pupils are not taught anthroposophy, it's not on the curriculum, and Steiner Pupils are not taught that certain races are superior to others. Of course there may be racist Steiner teachers, just as there are racist state school teachers and racist private school teachers, and racist butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.

duchesse Thu 31-Jan-13 08:07:40

I would imagine that a free school Steiner would have to toe the mainstream line rather more than a private one. I would hope that's the basis the free school status will be granted on. Not altogether sure about Steiner myself but I think the free school may be worth a look.

Older children went to a school that wasn't steiner but had some steiner inspirations in its outdoorsishness and we loved it. What's more the children do and did as well.

Snusmumriken Thu 31-Jan-13 09:43:48

Worldgonecrazy-

My query was in reference to this statement: " Incidentally, one of the Waldorf Education system's most famous alumni, the President of American Express (Ken Chenault) is black and was his class president".

My query was in reference to this statement: " Incidentally, one of the Waldorf Education system's most famous alumni, the President of American Express (Ken Chenault) is black and was his class president".

That statement was included to show that Steiner schools are not racist and do not teach racism. If they were, they would hardly have a black person as a class president would they? It's just one of the stupid myths about Steiner Education.

Snusmumriken Thu 31-Jan-13 10:15:48

Thanks for responding Worldgonecrazy.

We might have to agree to disagree. As I do not think that having had a non-white person in a position of authority necessarily evidences a non-racist stance.

My point was that there are numerous examples of black people that have been in positions of authority in historically,traditionally and fundamentally racist organisations/groups and so on.

An example would be Barak Obama. He was elected president in a country that is widely accepted as being quite racist. His election does not in and of itself prove this to be false.

I accept that this argument depends very much on how you and I define racism and its effects, and we do not have to agree with one another.

No we don't have to agree to disagree because you are wrong, my family is a mixed bag of skin colour, with everything from Chinese through to Caribbean and I am deeply offended that anyone could suggest I would send my daughter to a school that had a racist ideology - Steiner Education and Schools are not racist. Here is a transcript of the official statement on discrimination by the European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education.

• Waldorf schools pursue their pedagogical tasks out of the spirit of
human rights, thereby contributing to building a society founded
upon mutual respect, tolerance and cooperation between all human
beings.
• Waldorf schools do not select, stratify or discriminate amongst their
pupils, but consider all human beings to be free and equal in dignity
and rights, independent of ethnicity, national or social origin,
gender, language, religion, and political or other convictions.
• Anthroposophy, upon which Waldorf education is founded, stands
firmly against all forms of racism and nationalism*. Throughout
Steiner’s work there is a consistent anti-racist sentiment and he
frequently described racist views as being anachronistic and antithetical
to basic human values and dignity. The Waldorf schools
are aware, however, that occasional phrases in Rudolf Steiner's
complete works, when judged by today's standards, are not in concordance
with this fundamental direction and have a discriminatory
effect.
• Racist or discriminatory tendencies are not tolerated in Waldorf
schools or teacher training institutes. The Waldorf school movement
explicitly rejects any attempt to misappropriate Waldorf pedagogy
or Rudolf Steiner's work for racist or nationalistic purposes.

Snusmumriken Thu 31-Jan-13 10:39:37

Once again, my point was that this statement: " Incidentally, one of the Waldorf Education system's most famous alumni, the President of American Express (Ken Chenault) is black and was his class president." does not in and of itself prove that Steiner schools are not racist.

I am going to have to leave this discussion now. I think I have made my point quite clear if you read what I have written.

sannaville Thu 31-Jan-13 12:10:37

Thank you all! My this threads come on since this morning!!

Duchesse thanks for replying I know you anyway!! I've name changed! The school is for R so thought be worth a look since she doesn't like to follow the trend anyway!

sannaville Thu 31-Jan-13 12:11:37

Yes duchesse that's what I was sort of getting at if they would have to toe the line more as it was a free academy.

duchesse Thu 31-Jan-13 21:29:11

<waves at sannaville> Do they have an open day coming up do you know? My friend went to the central library event but we had something else on at the time. I've registered to be kept up to date with info etc...

Bluestocking Thu 31-Jan-13 21:47:03

"and that people with any kind of special need must have done something wrong in a previous life "

I guess you don't want any Hindus teaching your children then?

worldgonecrazy, a very close friend runs a school for children with special needs in India, and she assures me that the notion that special needs are a punishment for sins in a previous life is very prevalent among the (mainly Hindu) families she works with.

sannaville Thu 31-Jan-13 22:22:13

Duchesse yes they do, I got email this week saying email will be sent next week with details. Will keep you informed x

nlondondad Thu 31-Jan-13 23:27:39

Actually the reference to Hindu's makes my point. I would not send my child to a Hindu school. In fact I do not agree with church schools of any kind, and for that reason oppose Steiner as well. As to whether actual belief in Gnomes is better or worse than belief in say "Angels and Archangels and all the company of Heaven" Well, the whole thing a mystery.

nlondondad Thu 31-Jan-13 23:29:58

But a Christian (or Hindu) school would not teach that children ought not to be vaccinated as childhood diseases (with a non zero fatality rate) are part of a child's karma.

nlondondad I'm really confused/annoyed by your comments, though I guess we're back at my first post referring to the bullshit that is written about Steiner Education. I have never come across any Steiner-educated person who says that. The following official statement may be of particular interest (especially the bit I've highlighted).

Statement by ECSWE (European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education) on the Question of Vaccination
It has come to our attention that uncorroborated statements have appeared purporting opposition to childhood immunisation as the official or tacit policy of Steiner Waldorf School Associations and the institutions they represent. We wish to state unequivocally that opposition to immunisation per se, or resistance to national strategies for childhood immunisation in general, forms no part of our specific educational objectives. We believe that a matter such as whether or not to inoculate a child against communicable disease should be a matter of parental choice. Consequently, we believe that families provide the proper context for such decisions to be made on the basis of medical, social and ethical considerations, and upon the perceived balance of risks. Insofar as schools have any role to play in these matters, we believe it is in making available a range of balanced information both from the appropriate national agencies and qualified health professionals with expertise in the field. Schools themselves are not, nor should they attempt to become, determiners of decisions regarding these matters.

duchesse Fri 01-Feb-13 09:42:42

I think it's fairly safe to say that a school funded by the state and state-inspected will not be teaching about gnomes, racism or karma of disability. So I think OP's daughter (and potentially mine too) is safe from these things.

lecanardnoir Fri 01-Feb-13 17:00:43

duchesse - you would think it was safe to say, but Steiner Schools lobby to opt out of inspection and national standards so that they are free to carry out their non-education unhindered.

Many Steiner schools in the UK are not inspected by Ofsted but by SIS - an organisation set up to deal with the 'special character' of Steiner and Maharishi schools, but where the inspectors have strong links with these schools to 'aid understanding'.

This week, Steiner Schools in the UK have secured exemptions from EYFS and full exemption has been granted from the literacy ELGs - reading and writing.

restlessnative Fri 01-Feb-13 18:23:39

here's a link to the recent BBC Inside Out South West film about the state funded and state-inspected Steiner Academy Frome.

Gnomes feature, of course.

My advice to parents in Exeter, given from the heart, is to be very cautious. I would not rely on the DfE having exercised due diligence on your behalf. Nor would I rely on the Steiner movement to be honest with you, even if you ask the right questions.

sannaville - I wish you all the best with your dd2. I was anxious about my summer born ds too. I'm sure this lovely school is too far away from you, but perhaps worth a chat with them? Anyway, hope you find the right place for her smile

sannaville Fri 01-Feb-13 20:04:07

Thank you restless for that very useful

nlondondad Sat 02-Feb-13 18:35:11

@worldgonecrazy you describe my statement

"But a Christian (or Hindu) school would not teach that children ought not to be vaccinated as childhood diseases (with a non zero fatality rate) are part of a child's karma.'

As "bullshit" and then say you have never met any steiner educated person who said this.

However, the UK Health Protection Agency considers Steiner pupils to be members of the unvaccinated community.

"The epidemiological information that will help to favour the diagnosis of true measles includes a history of contact with another case, age, travel and membership of an unvaccinated community.... (including Steiner schools, travelling families etc) increases the index of suspicion."

Which is the logical outcome of the beliefs I describe.

Quoted from

www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1274088429847

sannaville Sat 02-Feb-13 20:36:13

Sorry to be ignorant but most children are vaccinated (or not) before they enter school so how would Steiner teachings have any sway over it anyway?

duchesse Mon 18-Feb-13 09:15:20

Did you go to the open day Sannaville? I didn't feel I learned all that much but I did have a chin wag with the head and the teachers who were there.

Liv1981 Mon 25-Mar-13 22:01:38

Hi sannaville, i'm in the same position. No montessori and cant afford private anyway. Completely torn at the moment between steiner (potentially the one they are trying to open in Bristol IF we could get her a place, or relocating to Frome) or just mainstream school. The schools we stand a chance of getting her into are both underachieving so in an impossible situation really where there is no ideal outcome. She loves her montessori preschool and so disappointed we cant continue it through primary as it seems such a perfect environment for her. We either go with the slightly daunting and possibly too extreme Steiner (given up researching i now as its such a highly debated topic!) or schools which arent up to scratch. Be interested to hear what you decide to do??

mathanxiety Wed 27-Mar-13 00:05:21

My understanding of the gnomes is that they are used in teaching maths -- times tables and long division, etc. It all seems very innocuous because it is an esoteric religion (as pointed out above) with the full picture available only to a select few. The gnomes are used to displace emotions of both students and teachers, and they are used to explain questions such as how the office copier works. Their existence is not questioned. Children who don't see them or are inclined to be sceptical can feel there is something seriously lacking in them. If you wouldn't send a child to a Catholic school because of fear of exposure to RC beliefs on Resurrection, etc., why send a child to a school where gnomes are an article of faith?

Wrt anthroposophy, though often not explicitly taught (this is for the elite to learn) it informs every single detail of what is taught and how and when it is taught. It informs the lack of intervention in the playground too, where children are working things through in karmic fashion, not bullying or being miserable.

As an example of anthroposophy at work -- waiting to teach reading until a child has lost his or her milk teeth. Children are not exposed to the factual world of written materials until this happens -- up to then they are assumed to see angels and other other-worldly beings. The way art is taught is similarly inexplicable until anthroposophy provides the essential clue -- art can be wrong and right; all artistic efforts that are outside of the Steiner model are wrong and a child's progress in art mirrors the progress of his or her soul. The art is watched closely and creativity is frowned upon. Art is soul work.

History is taught as a developmental process that mirrors the Steiner hierarchy of the races and reincarnation. Western civilisation is at the pinnacle and all other cultures and people are working their way to this apogee. Children start their study of 'history' with European mythology and legends with the lines between fact and fantasy blurred.

You may find yourself under pressure to limit your family's engagement with media. This is because media is a creature of Ahriman, a materialistic spirit who alienates people from their spiritual roots.

It may be worth noting that the Catholic Church sees Steiner schools as unsuitable for Catholic children and sees anthroposophy as a religion.

Tizian Thu 28-Mar-13 11:18:00

Restlessnative links to the BBC-film from Nov last year above.

For some comments on the film, see thebee.se/BBC

restlessnative Sat 30-Mar-13 07:00:31

Tizian - frankly, your only interest in mumsnet is to support your cult. Every time you comment here you make Steinerology look more like Scientology. Congratulations.

mathanxiety I can assure you that my DD's steiner school does not use gnomes to teach maths. They are cute little fantasy figures in the same way that young children might draw Father Christmas, etc., or at worst an anthropomorphic expression of "earth energies" for those who choose to believe in woo-type stuff (and such people exist in all spheres of life - how many people believe in Guardian angels as cute glowing creatures.

Maths is taught from early years, using actual things, rather than numbers on paper, so it might be that when cooking the children learn "more than", "less than", rudimentary fractions, e.g. half/thirds, etc. As children become slightly older then things such as multiplication rhymes, etc. are used. In this way maths becomes a non-scary concept as it's about real-world scenarios, not just abstract marks on paper. That bit comes later.

I'm not sure what you mean about the myths? I went to Catholic school and we were also taught history in vaguely chronological order, and also covered Greek and Roman myths. What is wrong with knowing the myths and stories of people if this helps us better understand their world view?

MTSgroupie Thu 04-Apr-13 11:05:44

Snus - Americans are widely known as being racist ????

No, I am not American but I have lived and worked there. There are parts of America where its a case of Praise The Lord and pass the ammo. But that is only a small part of America. The rest is quite multi racial. This is why the GOP is in a panic. Their pool of Angry White Men voters is dwindling.

How many black police officers do you see on the streets of the UK? How many black faces do you see in the government/opposition front benches?

IMO we live in more racist society. Pardon the hi jack.

SunflowersSmile Thu 04-Apr-13 17:51:51

The 'you must have done something wrong in a past life' stuff makes me furious where ever it comes from.
Vile, vile view point.
I knew someone who referred to someone I knew in these terms 'I don't know what John did to deserve having downs syndrome but I will pray for him and his family'.
Just piss right off was my response.
No way could I send my children to a school which upheld such damaging, disrespectful views.

Natmama Mon 29-Apr-13 20:39:29

We have similar dilemma and wondered which school you were recommending and where - sorry the link didn't work

josieflower Tue 25-Jun-13 16:24:01

Hi,

Just wanted to add that my two girls are going to the Exeter Steiner Academy in September, we are moving from another area to go there. My kids have been in the Steiner school here for several years.

Honestly, I don't know why people are getting so fussed about it all - go look if you like - rather than believing all the weird stuff written on the internet, make decisions based on your experiences. Speak to parents/pupils who have been there. The schools are not perfect and certainly don't suit everyone, nevertheless this is true of all schools and education systems.

My personal experience has been one of seeing my children happy, nurtured and loved. Academically they are excelling and I really enjoy all the magic of the early years (for instance the little necklaces made by the teachers form the 'fairies' on midsummers day)...This is a delightful part of childhood and I am glad it is celebrated for them. Gnomes are great! Who cares if they are 'real' or not? - many people believe in all sorts of stuff that we can't see (God, aliens, the big bang, atoms - well- I've never seen one so I just believe in them....blah, blah, blah). Some of these beliefs are helpful, some not so. So long as they aren't harmful and we have enough guidance to wisely discriminate these then for most of us, most of the time, we can escape certifiable insanity. Children believe in all kinds of wonderful stuff... the tooth fairy, father Christmas, making wishes, fairies, that they will be an astronaut one day - why not let them enjoy it while it lasts?

We can ignite the imagination or crush and belittle it, regardless of our religious or spiritual beliefs. I am a Buddhist personally and find the education very welcoming and compatible. My daughter's class is of many races and religions, speaking many languages and coming from many counties of origin, I have never witnessed or experienced racism within the school except from one other parent of a much older pupil on one occasion (sad, but not unique to the Steiner schools to meet ignorance).

In terms of the influence of the media - again try for yourself. If you like take a look at stuff written by Aric Sigman (not a Steiner person). My kids don't watch TV at all, we just don't need it, but this is a personal conscious choice, not one pushed on me by the school.

Of course there are some odd beliefs in Steiner's work, but the guy was writing around the turn of the 20th century, ever read any of his contemporaries stuff??? Try reading Freud for some add stuff too. Both I think classify as radical and genius in their way, but they were also a product of their era, culture and own education. These, just like their own ideologies, are not static things, are nor are the Steiner schools, they are evolving and alive.

Hopping off my soap box now and wishing you well in your own educations....

mysterio Sun 30-Jun-13 09:21:20

Our experience of Steiner kindergarten was also hideous. Daughter was terrified to go into Kindergarten. Seemed very dark, sinister and secretive and teacher was cold. Could never talk to the teacher as we were told the school was "child focused". Just had to leave a note in a book if you had any concerns. Daughter was left to her own devices at "playtime" where she would wander around the "playground" alone for ages with no interraction from staff as they wanted her to use her own imagination. She felt lonely, she was bullied (again, no supervision at playtime) and there was no structure at play time. A very bad first experience of school. Daughter would never talk about it, only cry hysterically if Steiner was mentioned.

As for the Steiner school, don't get me started! When our older child started, the school already knew they were in dire straits financially but still took our child on knowing that it would only be a temporary thing. Child has special needs and had already left one school because they couldn't cope with her. We believe it was hugely unfair of Steiner to take our child on especially with her difficulties, allowing her to settle in and get used to everything and then close down so suddenly. She was left very distraught and confused. They happily took our money for 10 months and then landed us with this bombshell. In the meantime, the staff were concentrating on getting the free academy ready and making sure that their children had places there. Our child does not even have a place at the new academy. We feel very angry and used.

Oh! and the teacher couldn't even spell! Daughter was always correcting him! How good is that.

Don't touch it with a barge pole. Weird, airy fairy, hippy dippy people who make you feel inferior if you're not one of the great unwashed. They looked down their noses at me because I wore makeup.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 30-Jun-13 13:32:29

josie I'll tell you why people are getting fussed about it. Because that school is receiving funding that should be going to the state schools in Exeter. Because that school isn't needed here. Because people - like you - are moving from another area to take advantage of state funding that should be going to the existing schools, and to save yourself fees which you would otherwise be paying. There is no demand for Steiner in Exeter. And no need for any free schools.

mysterio Mon 01-Jul-13 07:37:40

Wanted to add that I know someone who has a son with special needs (autism) and she wanted him to go to a certain Steiner school because of their gentle approach, supposed "accept everybody" approach, good values, etc. When she approached the school to ask if he could join, the teacher told her she would ask the class their opinion first (as it's child led). She came back to her saying that the class didn't want the boy to start there. Unbelievable. So just goes to show, they don't always practice what they preach.

gillapr Fri 30-Aug-13 22:06:06

Don't even consider a Steiner school - until you have researched thoroughly 'anthroposophy' on sites like Waldorf Critics/Quackometer and Waldorf Watch. If you agree with Steiner's (what many consider to be bizarre and worrying beliefs and approaches to education) that's great. But if you don't - you will be making huge mistake which will be expensive and stressful to put right.

I only wish the information had been on-line before deciding to send my daughter to a Steiner Waldorf (SW) establishment.

At first I sent my child to nearby private school, she thrived at its nursery and I assumed it would be a natural transition into the pre-prep. It was not. She had a dreadful start to school life, slapped and punched by the one other child in the class as well as horrendous pressure put on her to learn etc.

After looking at other local schools, I stumbled across SW education. I am now deeply embarrassed to admit that as well education (MBA), worldly and mature parent (had my daughter in my late 40's) I fell for the creative, tree-hugging hype. Seduced by the calmness of the environment, pretty baskets of shells, ribbons and cones to play with, the smell of bread baking and the gentle pastel colours painted on the walls etc. At the time, there was no other place I wanted her to be educated in.

I had absolutely no idea of the bizarre nature of anthroposophy, I couldn't even say the word. For the first few months it seemed a good choice but as time progressed I became more and more concerned over some of the teaching styles and practices. It was only after I got a letter saying my child would be required to jump over a fire (yes true!) at one of their odd festivals they celebrate, that I started to research the true nature of SW schools. I then came across the websites mentioned above. By this time, she was entering SW Year 1.

Already a fluid reader with good writing skills, she was not allowed to use this skills at all. She was not allowed books to read or permitted to use normal pencils. Instead she was made to go back to the most basic of lessons and use huge crayons to write with. When I complained about this, I was told that she would only be allowed to use pencils, as and when the rest of the class was ready. There was only three other children in the Y1 at the time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She could only use three colours of paint in her art and when a few other children were less than kind to her, I was told it was just 'childish' pranks and she should learn to deal with it. She was reduced to tears by the teacher because she refused to write the letter 'm' in the prescribed four stroke Steiner way and was devastated when made to sit alone at the back of a class of 12 pupils. Why? When challenged the teacher said it was his class and he could do what he wanted!

Once you understand ' anthroposophy' and Steiner's beliefs - these somewhat bizarre teaching practices will become very clear.

I decided to take her out of the school, but because she was so far behind academically I needed to employ a private tutor to bring her up to the most basic of standards- costing me over £1500. Also, she was so far behind that she was placed a year below her peers when she re-entered mainstream school.

I was so angry with the school because I felt conned by the 'so-called' innovative, creative and child orientated promises made to me by the school, I refused to pay the outstanding fees. In addition, I had serious concerns over her general health and safety, for instance, the classroom was infested with wild mice, which ran over the desks that children ate their lunch on. The school threatened me with debt-collectors, but when I said I wanted the matter to go before a small claims court, so it could be put on public record the disgraceful nature of the school and the appalling standard of teaching, the Trustee's backed down.

I can tell you from first-hand experience that SW schools are not what they claim. Only being allowed to use a limited number of colours in art and copying everything off a blackboard is the exact opposite of 'creative'. The bizarre religion that Steiner invented underpins everything that is said and done at these schools. It may, as you will no doubt be told, not taught to the children directly but it is done by stealth.

It was a truly dreadful experience. My dd has now been at mainstream state school for one year and is thriving and doing incredibly well. She tells me she hated the SW school and I looking back on it I can see why she would often beg me not to take her to school in the morning and come home bored and frustrated, desperate just to play with normal toys and paint pictures full of colour.

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