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Looking for an 'alternative' school in Hertfordshire

(18 Posts)
mertlev Thu 28-May-15 14:19:26


Thanks for reading - we're ready to move out of London and looking at Hertfordshire, for the easy commute. We're very keen to send the kids to a school with an alternative ethos, no homework, no screens, good old pen and paper etc. A Forest School perhaps. We've seen the Rudolf Steiner in Kings Langley, so we know about that one. But, for anyone in Hertfordshire, who has experience or knowledge of such things, please can you post your thoughts here?



mertlev Fri 29-May-15 09:39:25

Or indeed, anyone who has children at the Rudolf Steiner school, we'd love to hear about your experiences there. Thanks, M

orangepudding Fri 29-May-15 13:25:18

Ive heard positive things about St Chrisptopher

ItsNotAsPerfectAsItSeems Fri 29-May-15 13:28:59

Not sure about Herts but have you looked at The Dolphin School in Twyford, Berkshire? I'm not sure they go to the extent of no screens whatsoever but the main emphasis is on outdoor education and learning through experience. A large proportion of the school year is taken up with trips all over the country including woodland walks and hill trekking etc.

Millymollymama Fri 29-May-15 13:29:14

I was going to say St Christophers. I know of children who have been there, but not much positive feedback, although it clearly suits some children! It seems to suit slightly "other world" children but the children I knew who went there all moved to somewhere more academic!

PseudoBadger Fri 29-May-15 13:31:17

Harpenden Free School?

Zodlebud Fri 29-May-15 14:02:20

There's very few options in Herts other than the Rudolf Steiner to be honest. I surprised myself how liberal my feelings are when it came to education though and how I felt many schools were all about results than actually about the child. We went against the private and state school "favourites" in our area for this very reason.

We send our kids to Westbrook Hay. It has a Forest School which is used extensively, particularly for the younger years, and they place as much emphasis on the arts and sports as the academics. They do give a lot of homework though, and yes the whiteboards are there. Computer screens are confined to IT lessons and old fashioned hand writing is in. It's probably still very far removed from what you're after though.

I have heard really good things about Harpenden Free School as mentioned by another poster.

ItsNotAsPerfectAsItSeems Fri 29-May-15 14:24:52

Zodlebud, I really don't think that Westbrook Hay is at all what the OP is looking for. I know the school well and I'd say it's far from a relaxed alternative schooling. It's more like a back to basics prep. Also the attitude they had of releasing the girls at 11 whilst 'shaping' the boys until 13 is massively removed from St Chris or Dolphin concept of coed being the only natural way to school. They specialise in prepping for the academic dingle sex St. Albans schools and such like. Emphasis on handwriting and 3Rs rather than looking under logs. They do use the woods a lot in the early years but some parents still want their 9&10yr olds to be leaning that way rather than sat in stuffy uniforms facing the front learning dictation.
Just to be clear, my children are at an academically selective, uniform wearing school. So the type the op is looking for isn't for me. But I really do t think WH is what she wants.

OP, just one other thing to consider. The type of education you want when you look at your 3/4 yr old full of awe and wonder isn't necessarily what they need or what suits them at 7+. Many of these schools are wonderful at infant level but not always enough for older children either academically or socially. Just keep this in mind when moving somewhere for a school that may not suit your child in 5yrs.

Zodlebud Fri 29-May-15 17:32:18

I did comment that WBH was still very far removed from what the OP was after but there are very few schools that meet their requirements in this area. I disagree with some of your points about the school as our experience is very different to what you have described. In fact, the great majority of parents at the school chose it as a refreshing alternative to the stuffy, academic focussed offerings elsewhere nearby. Whilst for me the Steiner school was a bit too much, I honestly feel WBH is offering a half way house, at least in the early years, otherwise I would not have posted.

OP, I have a friend who very successfully home schools in the area and I believe there is a very supportive network with other home-schoolers. Not sure if this would be an option or not for you if the Herts location is set in stone?

Zodlebud Fri 29-May-15 18:12:12

Please do look at Harpenden Free School though. I think it really is a school you should be considering.

ItsNotAsPerfectAsItSeems Fri 29-May-15 18:15:28

Yes, I agree it was better than others locally but I didn't like the HT (5yrs ago so not sure if still the same one) he was always slightly aloof and the revered 'face' of the school. Enormous elaborate office with leather sofa etc. I can't be going with all that. I like my children at an independent school that's run like a state school in many ways but with more money and less bureaucracy. A shiny HT who talks about 'our sort of people' and asks my husband about golf puts me off. Then we moved and were exposed to large vibrant day schools (not like the one near WH) jam packed with state of the art facilities and not a whiff of snobbery.

HowDoesThatWork Fri 29-May-15 18:37:07

Rudolf Steiner schools have some very, very weird religious beliefs.

A 10 min BBC investigation into a Steiner School:

Before I knew any of the bad shit, I looked around the Bristol one, everyone was frighteningly earnest. It felt like a cult.

Randomrandoms Fri 29-May-15 19:22:26

I'm NOT from a Steiner background and yet somehow ended up working in Steiner education. I find that the Steiner ethos is quite removed from some of the original Steiner writing - much in the same way today's Christian ethos is removed from original biblical writing. For example the stance on gay relationships, stoning, female roles and so on is very different today but many underlying positive core principles remain. In Steiner there is great concentration on nature, seasons, growth. Each Steiner school is very different and it's worth researching each schools expectations of families/parents. My own children are in a mainstream state school which we are very happy with. It suits them. If I was to look for alternative schooling though I would probably do a mix of homeschooling and forest schools.

Maladicta Sat 30-May-15 16:04:04

Of the four families I know who have used the Kings Langley Steiner only one would describe their experience there as positive and even then it would be with reservations.

If your child has any sort of learning difficulty I would think very carefully about whether it's the right location.

ReallyTired Sat 30-May-15 21:48:50

I don't know anything about the school, but would you be interested in a montesouri school.

mertlev Tue 02-Jun-15 17:14:44

Thank you all for responding! It's my first time on mums net, and so very glad to have some really useful replies and local information. I'm going to look at all the schools suggested. The big thing for us is that the more research that is done, the worse it seems screens are for children, Steve Jobs for example, would not let his children use an iPad. Yet more and more schools are using screens in classroom teaching. Our current school wouldn't even tell us how much they are exposed to on a daily basis (this is another story altogether).

Thanks, thanks,


TheBeekeepersDaughter Tue 02-Jun-15 21:14:11

If you would consider Essex, there's a lovely Montessori primary school in Coggeshall- Soaring High School.

Wotsitsareafterme Tue 02-Jun-15 21:17:51

I'm a St Chris old scholar grin I loved it I wish my kids could go there it's still my dream school for them but we are in Devon hmm

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