Whole-child educational approach goes mainstream

 

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15 Dec 2011

 
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The Steiner Academy Hereford has completed its transition from an alternative, independent school, to a state-funded facility offering its holistic educational model to all

 

Situated in a cul-de-sac, looking out across rolling Herefordshire countryside is a unique school that aims to be an idyllic place for children to learn. As a state-funded Steiner school for children of all abilities, the Steiner Academy Hereford is the first of its kind in the UK.

Based on an educational model developed by the philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925), Steiner Waldorf schools aim to provide an unhurried and creative learning environment that nurtures the whole child, giving equal attention to the physical, emotional, intellectual, cultural and spiritual needs of each pupil.

An educational site since the 18th century, the school began as single roomed cottage at the gates of a church in Much Dewchurch, five miles south of the city of Hereford. In 1983 the site became home to the Hereford Waldorf School (HWS), which grew over 25 years before re-opening as an academy in September 2008. This followed extensive negotiations with government ministers and a yearlong study by the University of West England into the benefits of bringing Steiner and state education together.

Now, the academy is celebrating the completion of a £9.5m programme of new buildings, refurbishment and landscaping, marking the conclusion of its transition.

It is one of the smallest academies in England, teaching around 330 children age 3-16 and has a specialism in the countryside and natural environment. Demonstrating its intentions, the academy spent some of its start-up grant for uniforms on all-weather gear for the younger children.

“From the day they begin in the kindergarten, the children are outside in all weathers, baking, exploring, cleaning and mending,” says Trevor Mepham, principal of the academy.

In the main school the emphasis changes, but the focus on the wider environment remains with simple outdoor crafts and activities. Weekly lessons in gardening and land-work begin when the children turn 10. The school also teaches a BTEC programme in The Natural Environment, which begins at 14.

“The gesture of the whole school is concerned with respecting and sustaining the fundamental relationship between health, nutrition and learning,” explains Trevor, referring to the way Rudolf (Rudolph) Steiner saw medicine, agriculture and education as being at the foundation of wellbeing and sustainability.

Alongside the BTEC, which is equivalent to two GCSEs, the academy offers GCSEs in English, English Literature, Maths and Spanish as well as the European Portfolio Certificate (EPC), which focuses on independent learning, research and reflection. In 2010-11, 72% of pupils gained 5 GCSEs, including Maths and English, at A* to C.

The Hereford academy is one of 30 Steiner schools in the UK and Ireland and there are now more than 1,000 worldwide – from the US to China, Peru, Iceland and South Africa – with the first having opened in Germany in 1919.

For the Steiner schools movement in the UK, embracing public regulation and accountability by opening an academy had two aims: widening access to Steiner education across the social spectrum and opening a dialogue with others in the wider educational field.

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“Steiner education has a contribution to make and Steiner teachers have things to learn and to offer,” says Trevor, who believes that modern life should support the full, healthy development of the child, not treat children as mini-adults or fledgling consumers.

“There is a crying need to distinguish between qualitative progress and what is described as the raising of standards,” Trevor believes. “One is discernible, the other is an inexorable demand but, in reality, often a figment of data and statistics.”

To this end, the academy focuses on the insight that children learn in different ways at different stages of their development. As a result, the formal teaching of ICT doesn’t begin at Hereford until the age of 13.

“We hear so much about the supposed benefits of speed, variety, acceleration, and earliness, but questioning certain givens of the times we live in is the task of reflective and considerate educators,” says Trevor.

With over 60 children on its waiting list, the academy’s approach appears to be gaining favour, as Sylvie Sklan, the academy’s chair of governors reveals: “The fact that the academy is considerably over-subscribed is testimony to the groundswell of parental interest in being able to choose a different kind of education.”

Changing status to a state funded school has inevitably brought about some regrets and nostalgia. The original school, HWS, was entirely funded by parents, who also carried out much of the building work alongside friends and teachers. This created “a distinct community spirit,” explains Sylvie.

However, the change has created an opportunity for more children from the locality to benefit from Steiner education and has enabled the facilities to be vastly enhanced, she says.

“With the beautifully crafted new buildings finished, the tranquillity of the old school is returning. Hopefully, this historic site of learning can lead the way for other state funded Steiner schools in more deprived parts of the country.”

Establishing a Steiner academy in London is an ongoing goal, reveals Sylvie. “In the meantime the many lessons we have learned about delivering Steiner education in a more regulated environment will make it much easier for others to follow.”

A new Steiner Academy is due to open in Frome, Somerset in September 2012.

 
 

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47 comments:

  1. Jim Wild says:

    Good to hear that the school in Hereford has been successful following the transfer to state funding.
    Very inspiring.
    We are also applying to open a new Steiner School in Leeds as part of the Free Schools programme. http://www.leedssteinerschool.co.uk Join our campaign and send us message of support.

    • harry says:

      Sad that so many people fall for this rubbish, With out doubt a second class edication whose pupils battle to make it in the real world!!!.

      • Martha says:

        Another hater! Harry, please don’t tell me my school is second class ‘edication’ when you fail to spell education. As for pupils having to struggle into the real world? Would you say you are more successful than Sandra Bullock and Carey Mulligan who both attended Steiner education. Or what about Jennifer Aniston who went to Steiner drama classes. You can find a whole list of celebrities who were once Steiner pupils here: http://www.diewaldorfs.waldorf.net/listengl.html and I think you’ll find not one of them had to ‘battle to make it into the real world’ any more than anybody else did.

        • harry says:

          Most of them become flower children!!1 Oh spare us!!! They simply have no idea of discipline and are simply unable to take the pressures of daily life. Be objective far more of your graduates become social drop outs than succeed. One has to be really gullible to follow this nonsense but sadly there are gullible people.Luckily very few!!!

      • People who talk about ‘discipline’ and ‘the real world’ are always people who come from a background of very strict parentage where they were forced to devote themselves to their parents’ wishes whilst ignoring their own inclination for creative work, exploration, curious and excited learning and of course, RESPECT for others.Fear of others, of parents and teachers, is the basis in later life for insistence on obedience, uniform thought, and disrespect for others, particularly disrespect for children because the child evokes what they have lost in such people and their long buried and ignored senses of outrage and feelings of loss and unfairness arise to the surface hungrily seeking a victim for their expression. The child must be forced into the same box they had to suffer at all costs.

      • Cat says:

        “Sad that so many people fall for this rubbish”

        “One has to be really gullible to follow this nonsense but sadly there are gullible people.Luckily very few!!”

        so is there very few or very little people falling for it?? you fail to agree even with yourself! that s the fruit of the conventional education

        • Harry, I hope I can dispel some of the prejudice and misgivings you have about Steiner educated children. I was educated at York Steiner School and have since gone on to become a Wholetime Firefighter, my brother; educated at the same school is the same albeit after a five year stint in the RAF!

          We’re not all flower power children, although, I do class myself as one despite my job!

          ;-)

  2. harry says:

    Checked the Rudolf Steiner /Waldorf achievers. Not great!!! Any way good luck At least I have warned those who are contemplating being sucked into this abyss. That’s all from me. I see they admit to providing unhurried education.Believe me that is another word for dead slow education!!! Cheers I have had my say!!!!!!!!!!

    • Ziggy says:

      Harry,
      I am slightly intrigued as to what experiences you have had which have led you to these opinions about Steiner education. As to this sense of ‘achievement’ I’m not sure that success can be judged solely on whether someone reaches a degree of fame or career recognition but maybe on less measurable attributes such as happiness or social empathy or emotional balance.
      P.S. Good use of exclamation marks for emphasis!

      • Harry says:

        ! really am pleased that my comments have caused some debate
        . My problem with the Steiner system is that it simply fails to prepare students for the real world in which they will one day have to operate.
        What is needed is all round education and exposure to the real world. Waldorf schools tend to educate their children in a very protected environment where discipline is unimportant and they are shielded from pressure at every turn. The term unhurried education often used by Waldorf sums the philosophy up.There simply is no pressure to get things done. There is aplace for free thinkers in society but at the end of the day things have to be done within a time frame. Steiner concentrates on the arts,free thinking,music and cultural aspects on life. These are important but sadly the more practical aspects of life like management organisational asbility, meeting deadlines, the hard sciences are played down. This means that the traditional education system whichcaters for the above but also prepares people for the real World and exposes them to the arts produces far more rounded individuals who can cope with the challenges of life. If one looks at the Achievers who have been exposed to Waldorf one soon sees that theyhave achieved far more in cultural art music and philosophy than in the more practical fields. Their list is hardly impressive.In fact the Traditional system produces far greater achievers in greater numbers. Achievers listed in the Waldorf list range mainly from clowns to musicians artists and cultural achievers.These are much needed but sadly the world needs skills other than these to survive and Waldorf will never make significant contributions to practical fields. I belierve that perhaps future philosophers musicians free thinkers and those who wish to live in totally tranquil environments probably benefit from Waldorf. Thankfully the traditional education system will continue to provide an environment for Waldorf and other small sects like it to operate in but luckily the system is unlikely to gain Significant backing anywhere and will always be supported by a very tiny minority.There is also no proof that brilliant musicians or artists with in born talent reached the heights they did because of Waldorf exposure.Their inborn talent could probably have been developed as well in another environment

        • oli76 says:

          By ‘real world’ I assume you are referring to the obsolete system of economics we are currently witnessing the demise of.

  3. David Trafford says:

    Thanks for you opinion, Harry, really valuable to have your views on the abyss. Perhaps some evidence, or the odd fact or two might help in future. I feel very well warned by the absence of them in your posts. So, your say is said. What would any of us have done without it?

  4. David Trafford says:

    I’m not an expert, but I did some research on the question of “Waldorf achievers”. I won’t bore you all with the results, but I noticed one that struck me especially. You remember those horrible events in Norway, when so many young people were shot by a racist madman? The Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, rightly got a great deal of credit for the way he reacted to that devastating event. He showed enormous moderation, depth of feeling, humanity. Well, it seems Stoltenberg is one of those unimpressive Waldorf graduates – you know one of those undisciplined “flower children” (Harry’s spectacles on the subject are apparently, circa 1963). I found a quotation from Stoltenbrerg in which he says that his Waldorf education “saved him”. I don’t know what he meant. But it’s one particularly prominent example among many. Thank goodness these schools are there. There isn’t that much to celebrate in the way the rest of the public school system is charging into its own abyss, I’m sorry to say..

  5. Annabel Newfield says:

    Parents are crying out for alternatives for their children. There is way too much compromising of the child and their true nature and talents that goes on in mainstream schools. I’m not saying that all mainstream isn’t working. But the end ‘product’ of education creating young adults who have a strong sense of self and purpose is often far from the outcome from state school. Of course many teachers are deeply frustrated too by the limits and constraints put on them by the National Curriculum. For the time being we’ve chosen to home educate our daughter (nearly 6). But we’d love to send her to school and Steiner would indeed be our choice. I live in Manchester where we have a growing grassroots Steiner community. Parents run a kindergarten one day a week, we host parenting courses, and are in the process of setting up our own Steiner Free School here. I look forward to when Positive News will be writing an article about our state funded Steiner school. I totally celebrate and admire the work that the Hereford academy are doing, and the support they are giving other groups to make Steiner education accessible to all.

  6. Eric Fairman says:

    Just to inform Harry (with ack. to Wikipedia):

    U K comparison with mainstream education

    A UK Department for Education and Skills report noted significant differences in curriculum and pedagogical approach between Waldorf/Steiner and mainstream schools and suggested that each type of school could learn from the other type’s strengths: in particular, that state schools could benefit from Waldorf education’s[72] early introduction and approach to modern foreign languages; combination of block (class) and subject teaching for younger children; development of speaking and listening through an emphasis on oral work; good pacing of lessons through an emphasis on rhythm; emphasis on child development guiding the curriculum and examinations; approach to art and creativity; attention given to teachers’ reflective activity and heightened awareness (in collective child study for example); and collegial structure of leadership and management, including collegial study.

    Aspects of mainstream practice which could inform good practice in Waldorf schools included: management skills and ways of improving organizational and administrative efficiency; classroom management; work with secondary-school age children; and assessment and record keeping.

    A 2008 report by the Cambridge-based Primary Review found that Steiner/Waldorf schools achieved superior academic results to English state schools.[73]

  7. Anon says:

    I went to the Hereford School and a lot of what Harry said is completely right. I’m embarassed to put the useless GCSE substitute qualifications on any job applications/cv etc as quite simply no one has even heard of them, it teaches foreign languages brilliantly at a young age but after about 10 there is pretty much no point turning up to class as it stays at the same level, science teaching is simply a joke and annoys me so much as i loved science when i was younger, there is so much that the system needs to change.
    My main qualm with the Steiner system is that they simply do not give people any drive to work and succeed or specialise. What Harry said about the liberal approach to deadlines is true and its frankly ridiculous. People pointing to famous actors who went to Steiner is absurd, they encourage students to get involved in acting, arts, music, etc but the actual teaching of all of these is either non existent or abysmal, having done art for 10 years I am still awful at all forms of it as I was only ever told to do it, never ever HOW to do it. Sports teaching demonstrates the pathetic approach to encouraging excellence, the best players are held back by the lesser ones who dont even want to be there because everything has to be equal and you have to involve everyone and there are no winners. I could rant about the school for a long long time…

  8. Jim Wild says:

    Interesting discourses and comments.
    Perhaps many of us think of success in different terms. If you want the traditional success measures of loads of money and to be a high ranking boss of all, then yes you will need to exhibit traits that researcher Jon Ronson found “lack of empathy, lack of remorse, glibness, superficial charm, manipulativeness”. The traits of pycophaths appear high on the list of for many Chief Executives (not all granted! and the debate about measures of success could continue for ever).

    My main gripe is the current state system leaves so many children without hope and a dislike of education, this is pretty criminal in many peoples minds, as well as a complete waste of time and money. When the measures of success are 5 A*-C at GCSEs (at which Steiner schools do very well at coincidentally) the border line children get extra encouragement, but those at the top and bottom are left out. At our proposed school we want all children to succeed, and of course we want them to be able to live and work in the real world. I agree with Ken Robinson and many others when they say the world is changing so fast that you need creativity and innovation, and to have a love of learning new things. I believe this applies to all trades and professions, not just for those who want to reach the top. Google had famously adopted dedicated time for it’s employees to be creative and work on new ideas, and it shows how important creativity is.
    There is real structure and encouragement in our Steiner school model. Discipline is also an important element of a state funded comprehensive Steiner school in a city like Leeds.
    I live in the real world, I’m an engineer and see construction sites where a full range of people work in collaboration (some times in conflict) to create new and exciting things, where everyone is important and their skills are needed and valued. We need leaders, but we also need more doers and those doers need broad balanced education too, and not to be labelled and funnelled by a system that sees results in fixed terms.

    • Richard Lamb says:

      I can relate wholey to Jim’s comment on definitions of success, and the outcomes (and people!) produced by traditional models of school education. Being dyslexic meant that at school, my natural talents for visual-spatial creativity were overlooked. I recognize aspects of my own ‘gift of dyslexia’ in my 4.5 year-old, James. I live in Nottingham and know of a Steiner school here. Are there avenues for state funding for bursaries for moving children into non-state schools?

      • Steve says:

        Hi Richard

        Be wary of Steiner schools. On paper they sound great but in practice… It also depends on the management and the teachers, like any school.

        For example, have a look at this link. It’s the impressions of a child who attended the Hereford Steiner Academy. Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing if this testimonial is legit or not: the poster doesn’t respond to requests of further information, but his experiences are concistent with other reports across the web.

        http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?p=28049736#post28049736

        You can also check out my own sites on the matter. This one’s about my family’s experiences at a New Zealand Steiner school:

        http://www.titirangisteinermessenger.com

        This one is collecting similar experiences from other schools, including the court case with the Norfolk Initiative Steiner School:

        http://www.steinermentary.com

  9. Angel says:

    Love the idea of Steiner schools being good for clowns. Hilarious.

    Lots of good points in this discussion. Especially important is the one about the perceived need for an alternative to results driven sausage machine.

    This need results in better PR for Steiner than they actually deserve. A big problem in Steiner Ed, apart from the non-secular nature of the education (Anthroposophy), is the lack of accountability of the schools and the way their extraordinary PR machine silences those who get bullied out of Steiner communities (that cultish, non secular element) for asking awkward questions, about bullying for example.  

    Case in point Hereford Steiner Academy, where a family was bullied in much the same way that Jo Sawfoot was in Norwich – http://www.steinermentary.com/SM/UK.html .  Including lies being told to Government bodies about children. Whereas Ms Sawfoot took them to tribunal, however, the Hereford case is only known anonymously i.e. although the story is out there, it’s not connected with the school.  This sort of problem is how they get away with it and why Steiner is now becoming state funded in the UK.

    Families who have suffered this kind of mobbing (very common) tend to keep silent about the identities of the schools which unwittingly supports them. This is sometimes out of fear (being mobbed is horrific), and sometimes down to a rather unpleasant “lifestyle preferences” thing where families prefer to look after their own (largely white, middle-class) interests rather than doing the decent thing and warning others about specific dangers.

    If the grisly facts were known about Hereford, for example, that info, along with Norwich (who did not get the funding as a result) may/would have prevented the public Funding of Frome.

    These opinions are born from my own experience which is currently with Human Rights Tribunal and documented here. http://www.titirangisteinermessenger.com . It is an opinion which has got me into a huge amount of trouble both with  Steiner people and with the “critics” who don’t think families should be asked to name and shame abusive schools – an erroneous position in my view, based on exactly the same sort of middle-class expectation of privilege that gives rise to the perceived urgency for alternative education in the first place.

    Although this all might sound negative, we believe that standing up to all forms of bullying is very positive news.

    Please don’t shoot the messenger, although experience shows that people usually will. :)

    • Sandie Tolhurst says:

      I deny the allegation in the employment tribunal judgement that I misled Social Services.

      The allegation arises over a situation in early summer 2009 where a staff member carried a child out of a room and was bitten by the child as she did so. When this was reported by telephone to social services, a written incident note was also sent, stating the same.

      However, when the mother of the child requested from Social Services a transcript of the telephone conversation a month later, a summary note was produced, which stated I had informed them that “the member of staff had had to restrain the child after an incident of biting”.

      At an Employment Tribunal 2 years on, the panel decided that this amounted to my misleading social services. I was not questioned in Court about the inconsistency; I had not even myself noticed that the Social Services note incorrectly reflected the conversation. Social Services were not asked to verify if the note were correct, they were not asked if they thought they had been misled and nor were they requested a copy of the original comprehensive notes which the Local Area Designated Officer (LADO) assured me were taken. In fact Social Services were not involved in the Employment Tribunal at all, and yet the panel were able to cast an unchallenged allegation that “social services were misled”.

      My understanding is that had this been a criminal court, questions would have had to been asked, such as: “If Social Services were misled, did Sandie Tolhurst intend to mislead them or was it a misunderstanding?” and “Did Social Services produce an accurate summary of the conversation, or is the summary in itself misleading?” and “Why would Sandie Tolhurst say one thing on phone and send a contradictory written note to the same person at Social Services on the same day?”

      The exact answers to all the above questions will probably never be known, as the full transcript of the conversation I had with Social Services is not with the case records and the member of staff I spoke with has long since left Social Services. I believe I provided consistent information to Social Services. I did not at any time state that the child was removed from the room because she was biting; I read from the incident report as I spoke to Social Services and the Employment Tribunal accepted as being true the incident report. I do not believe Social Services were misled. I do believe that the telephone conversation was summarised incorrectly; that it was a mistake, a human error.

      Employment Tribunals do not need to prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that something did or did not happen, as would be the case in a criminal court. They can decide which evidence they ‘prefer’ on the basis of what they have in front of them, even if this is not validated as being correct.

      Norwich Steiner School took a business decision not to appeal and instead settled out of court. Those who are interested in this case should therefore be aware that there are a number of unjust and incorrect judgements resulting from this tribunal that remain unchallenged.

      Sandie Tolhurst

  10. harry says:

    Thank you Anon and Angel for expressing so eloquently your experiences of Steiner.I think you captured the problems with this form of education very well. It would be interesting to get a response from the school

  11. harry says:

    Hello Richard
    I do think that one needs to think twice about Steiner,It is interesting to note that no staff members from the school have entered the debate here although they are pretty good at telling everyone to read this article. What is not disputed is that the qualifications these children get simply are not recognised as being anywhere near as good as qualifications in the normal system.Martha’s site highlighting so called achievers from Waldorf confirms that if that list is all Waldorf has to brag about they really have failed to make a significant contribution to the world.They seem oblivious that the world is a competitive place and that competition is important. Their philosophy remains that there must be no winners or losers and sadly all this does is pull down achievers to lower levels than what they are capable of resulting in overall mediocrity. Huge questions marks hang over the competency of Waldorf teachers and their ability to transfer real skills to their pupils other than the importance of seeing the world through rose tinted spectacles where we will all be one happy commune, where there is no need to achieve excellence , where we must all be at the same level and there is no pressure. Of course they insist on all associated with Steiner to confirm totally or face the wrath of the cult.Healthy debate they cant handle. Mr Steiner lived in a bygone era and sadly his disciples have failed to move with the times

  12. waldorf or public school, the most important pillar of the education ARE THE PARENTS!!!! It’s a shame already toddlers are sooo marked by them, it makes me sad really. :(

    • Harry says:

      Rosso

      You are right and if the poor little toddlers have the misfortune of entering the Waldorf education system they are ruined for life and any potential they may have had is destroyed.!!!

  13. Gus says:

    harry,
    Please don’t take offense at the coming statement, or if you wish, do take offense, it strikes me you would like that, anyway, listen up…

    Unless you yourself are steiner educated and/or know lots of people who are steiner educated and have failed at life then please, Enlighten us all to the problems of the system, However if you are not in such a position, then please bear in mind that you are about as unqualified to give a rational, argument supported by evidence against steiner as can be found, besides perhaps, a lobster.

    I would also like to add that you are living in your own “reality” which no-one, not even you, are obliged to live in. So if in your world steiner educated folks live a lesser life of depravity and poverty, cool, but just don’t assume others live in your world and abide by the same notions as you do.

    This is a comment to all who are as harry.

    I would like to add I have no problem with opinion, just separate them from the facts and don’t expect people to take you seriously.

    Best Luck in your life to come,

    Angus.

  14. Pete Karaiskos says:

    Angus, (is that you Bruce?)

    I have over 20 years of exposure to Waldorf. I married into a Waldorf family. My ex and both her parents were Waldorf teachers. My three children attended Waldorf. I experienced the Waldorf system and even helped start a Waldorf school before I became aware of the problems. Now, having witnessed first-hand the deceptive nature of Waldorf representatives, I have nothing but contempt for the Waldorf system. My kids, having attended and graduated Waldorf find themselves completely unprepared for everyday life, let alone the workplace environment. But there is a far more sinister side to Waldorf. They teach Steiner’s racist ideas as if they are science. I documented this extensively when Highland Hall Waldorf school in Northridge, CA taught in physiology class that “the blood of people from Europe is more evolved than the blood of people from Africa and Asia.” When I questioned this statement, Highland Hall DEFENDED the lesson – claiming it is scientifically accurate… IT ISN’T OF COURSE! Steiner’s stupid ideas, including his RACIST ideas are part of the curriculum in Waldorf. His racist ideas are taught to teachers in Waldorf teacher training – because Waldorf teachers have different expectations from white children than they do from children of other races. THIS IS NOT SPECULATION – IT IS A FACT! http://petekaraiskos.blogspot.com/

  15. Kelcey hart says:

    Greetings! Ay Ho, all our relations. Thank you so much for all these schools that promote self actualizatiin, exploration, nature and integrative health. Behaviorism is unfortunate, as industrious, standard eyed and gramitcly corect people we can afford to invest in nature, creativity, inspiring and empowering classes, workshops, clinics or continueing education , to see that the ORGANIC , ways of “complimentary”, “alternative” can assist our young arrows in rectified movements accuratly forward with life skills, wisdom, love and peace. Thank you again! And to all of you who read this Thank you. Climb A Tree, many moments of healing peace_ roots

  16. Pete Karaiskos says:

    Kelcey,

    So, did you fall out of many trees as a child?

    If you’re going to promote Waldorf schools, it might help your message if you invest in a spell-checker. I just LOVE what you did with the words “gramitcly corect” … Here’s wishing you luck in your “continueing” education and hoping you teach more “accuratly” than you type.

    • Universal Citizen says:

      Pete …. you are displaying to the World just how tiny your mind has become … Try opening your heart before you open your mouth … Perhaps Kelcey is dislexic or has some other reason for making a few mistakes in presenting her message through the medium of text … what ever the reasons are, you have no right to insult and attempt to belittle her/him.

  17. Universal Citizen says:

    I hope that the State envolvement in this School will not be permited to infiltrate the centre of the Stiener humanitarian ethos, with the same problems that it has created in State run schools all over the Country. If it does, then this will cease to be a wonderful alternative centre of whole child education, for enlightened parents to gift to their children and become just another damaging and disappointing institution. I worry that those who are running the school, having never been involved in the damaging effect of State run schools on children’s love of learning and confidence to be ‘themselves’ will not see the restrictions curling around them until they have a stranglehold .. take care guys … and good luck with your vision.

  18. harry says:

    Dear Universal Citizen

    You must pray that the state Involvement in this Steiner school does bring some focus and reality to the poor students who are pupils there. If it does not then all we have is another institution producing no hopers who will never be able to contribute meaningfully to society. It is indeed sad that the state has decided to spend tax payers money on a school that will eventually produce nothing more than a crowd of dreamers who will become a burden on the state.

  19. harry says:

    Oh Universal Citizen Just for your information its involvement not envolvement and dyslexic not dislexic. you and Kelcey really show what the benefit of Waldorf education is !!!!!!

  20. Pete Karaiskos says:

    UC, have you ever read anything written by Waldorf students? Spelling is always a problem… perhaps something about avoiding spell-checkers when they were young. Yes, I said it… bad spelling is common to Waldorf students. AND, dyslexic people aren’t prevented from using spell checkers, are they? I’ll stand by my statement, if you’re coming here to promote an educational system – it wouldn’t hurt to spell-check your message. People who put little or no value on what they write should not be promoting schools – nor should they expect to be taken seriously. It’s really that simple.

    • John says:

      Wow, so that means all of the tens of thousands of Waldorf school graduates around the world are unable to spell? I guess my children who attend a Waldorf school in the UK (not Hereford) must be just pretending to spell perfectly then. They sometimes correct the spelling of their mainstream-educated and less academically able friends, but I suppose that must be a cruel hoax as well. Thanks for putting me straight on that.

  21. Sandie Tolhurst says:

    With regards to the comments relating to the Employment Tribunal for Norwich Steiner School, I deny the allegation in the employment tribunal judgement that I misled Social Services.

    The allegation arises over a situation in early summer 2009 where a staff member carried a child out of a room and was bitten by the child as she did so. When this was reported by telephone to social services, a written incident note was also sent, stating the same.

    However, when the mother of the child requested from Social Services a transcript of the telephone conversation a month later, a summary note was produced, which stated I had informed them that “the member of staff had had to restrain the child after an incident of biting”.

    At an Employment Tribunal 2 years on, the panel decided that this amounted to my misleading social services. I was not questioned in Court about the inconsistency; I had not even myself noticed that the Social Services note incorrectly reflected the conversation. Social Services were not asked to verify if the note were correct, they were not asked if they thought they had been misled and nor were they requested a copy of the original comprehensive notes which the Local Area Designated Officer (LADO) assured me were taken. In fact Social Services were not involved in the Employment Tribunal at all, and yet the panel were able to cast an unchallenged allegation that “social services were misled”.

    My understanding is that had this been a criminal court, questions would have had to been asked, such as: “If Social Services were misled, did Sandie Tolhurst intend to mislead them or was it a misunderstanding?” and “Did Social Services produce an accurate summary of the conversation, or is the summary in itself misleading?” and “Why would Sandie Tolhurst say one thing on phone and send a contradictory written note to the same person at Social Services on the same day?”

    The exact answers to all the above questions will probably never be known, as the full transcript of the conversation I had with Social Services is not with the case records and the member of staff I spoke with has long since left Social Services. I believe I provided consistent information to Social Services. I did not at any time state that the child was removed from the room because she was biting; I read from the incident report as I spoke to Social Services and the Employment Tribunal accepted as being true the incident report. I do not believe Social Services were misled. I do believe that the telephone conversation was summarised incorrectly; that it was a mistake, a human error.

    Employment Tribunals do not need to prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that something did or did not happen, as would be the case in a criminal court. They can decide which evidence they ‘prefer’ on the basis of what they have in front of them, even if this is not validated as being correct.

    Norwich Steiner School took a business decision not to appeal and instead settled out of court. Those who are interested in this case should therefore be aware that there are a number of unjust and incorrect judgements resulting from this tribunal that remain unchallenged.

    • Harry says:

      Hmm

      Norwich Steiner School decided not to appeal because they were afraid that the negative publicity already received would escalate. and compound their woes. They took the decision not to appeal because basically they had no leg to stand on having mislead the tribunal

      Harry

  22. naturalmanna says:

    I’m with Harry and Pete. The increase in schools such as Steiner-Waldorf is going to, in my humble opinion that is, contribute to the decline in the use of the wonderful English Language. I know several people whose children attend these types of schools – they are precocious to the extreme, unable to accept that they have to live in the world with others, and are extremely selfish, again to the extreme. We can debate this until the cows come home, but for me this smacks of the Ira Levin novel Stepford Wives [made into a film] and later the Stepford Children. I wish we could go back to the 50’s and 60’s principle of 3 R’s, respect for authority and older people and pride in doing a good job just for the sake of it, not for the kudos.

    • Joni says:

      As a mom of a teenage daughter in Waldorf education 8.5 years, and a school psychologist in public schools, our family has delighted in the strengths of this educational approach. Like any human venture, it also has been fraught with challenges along the way – truly! But also with a depth of comprehension and reasoning skills with knowledge that have been fantastic to see.

      I have seen how ‘undersocialized’ students can seem with Waldorf educators who are not natural to ‘holding’ students accountable, where basic respect is not happening. It is that teacher who is lacking not the Waldorf approach. I see this discrepancy across all public schools, indeed across all professions and jobs. While Waldorf may not be for every family, it is a breath of fresh air, and provides activities/opportunities not at all available in traditional education, when all is working well as a school system too, that allow the unique talents to rise in individuals, so they can offer their unique skills to our society. When the teacher’s pedagogy is strong with firm and fair boundaries, children thrive.

      Longitudinal Study: Please refer to the Phase II longitudinal study results that span from 1943 through 2001. This collected data about the % of almost 1000 Waldorf students – for graduating high school, 4 year college, Masters/Doctorate degrees, what fields they entered, self-assessment, professor assessment and employer assessments. The results are very pleasing to parents like me who really wanted DATA, not feel-good, la-dee-dah impressions or people picking out unfortunate circumstances that were not the norm.

      When the Waldorf pedagogy is mentored properly with a strong administrative and parent community, this educational approach is the answer to the world’s ills in my opinion. Finding a system of humans, however, without imperfections is unrealistic; but we all do the best we can, and ultimately parenting along with school is what brings the child up in the real world. I’ve assessed many Waldorf students, and even with some struggle with severe dyslexia, their Wills are the strongest I’ve encountered in 15 years – the perseverance, focus, problem solving skills, and never giving up/getting frustrated – are Remarkable.

      Just sharing some thoughts. Take care.

  23. The Judgment says:

    With reference to the above by Sandie Tolhurst the court facts on ‘misrepresentations’ are quoted below and readers can form their own opinions on facts versus fantasy.

    NB The unlawful physical restraint happened on 11 May 2009 and Sandie Tolhurst decided to report it to LADO on 17 June 2009.

    Quotes from the Judgment :

    1. ”When this was reported by telephone to social services, a written incident note was also sent, stating the same.”

    Page 35 Paragraph 160 (part)

    ”On 17 June 2009 Miss Tolhurst rang the Local Authority Designated Officer, (LADO). We were referred to a note of that conversation taken by the person she spoke to, this records Miss Tolhurst informing her that the child had to be restrained after an episode of biting and aggression from the child. This is a misrepresentation of the incident. This is apparent from Miss Letts’ version of events as quoted above; which describes the biting taking place after the restraint by Miss Letts.”

    2. The judgment also deals with other misrepresentations made at the same time by Ms Tolhurst to LADO.

    Page 48 Paragraph 41 (c)

    ”Does this amount to detriment as a result of having made a protected disclosure contrary to Section 47b of the Employment Rights Act 1996?”

    ”Yes: misrepresenting the nature of the incident to an outside authority, seeking to give the impression that the matter had been properly investigated and reported whereas in fact it had not, raising concerns about the professionalism and performance of a teacher without having addressed those issues to the teacher in question are all matters that would be seen by the Claimant as placing her at a disadvantage once she became aware of them, as she did in due course.”

    3. In relation to the incident report referred to please note also the Judgment states

    Page 18 Paragraph 54

    ”There were a number of significant date errors in the respondent’s documents that suggested to us that on occasions, people had retrospectively created documents and back dated them to suggest that they were contemporaneous. For example, the date changes and grammar used by Miss Letts in her note in the incident book regarding the events of 11 May and her note of her subsequent telephone conversation with Ms. Sawfoot.”

    4. In relation to the court and their view on whether Ms. Tolhurst misleads; further refer to

    Page 18 Paragraph 53 (part)

    ”Mr X, Mrs. X and Miss Tolhurst in one important respect, gave us cause to doubt them. That was the assertion by each of them that they had not known Ms Sawfoot was going to make a complaint about the way her daughter had been treated.”

    The documentation is available here:

    http://www.steinermentary.com/SM/UK-NISS-Tribunal.html

  24. Rudy says:

    I live in Forest Row – where Michael Hall school and the Steiner college Emerson are located. I have many friends from Michael Hall school. One or two did well and have entered Arts-related work, but many are non-achievers – in the arts or life in general. One, indeed, is homeless and abuse of cannabis and other drugs is rife. The children often still live with their parents, unable to function on their own – or, if they are independent, rely on benefits to be able to pursue their self-focused,’self-improvement’ paths (not society-improving paths). Forest Row has gradually been taken over by spaced-out Steiner-followers, who have an ‘us and them’ attitude. One question I always get by Steiner adherents is, “Did you go to Michael Hall?” and if you didn’t you’re rejected. Steiner’s out-dated, racist philosophy is followed like a cult and results in many ruined lives.

    • John says:

      “The children often still live with their parents”. That might be because of the cost of housing in Sussex. In the most expensive parts of the UK (like Forest Row) many young people are forced to live with their parents because they can’t afford to rent or buy property. Michael Hall’s GCSE results are way above the UK national average.

  25. about harry says:

    harry is a troll

    when he got fed he got stronger

    sometimes igonrance is bliss

    peace

    • John says:

      Yes. A whole load of posts on this thread, but no facts and no evidence that he/she has ever seen or been into a Waldorf school.

  26. Annie says:

    Unfortunately, our family found Waldorf school in California left our granddaughter bored and unhappy.
    She is now enrolled in Montessori, and is thriving.

  27. corneilius says:

    Reading through the comments, it is clear that a lack of empathy, a mood of defensiveness and vitriolic anger permeates the discourse. Which undermines the possibility of a rational discussion.

    I would argue that this has little to do with Waldorf or State education.

    It probably has more to do with the personal prejudices of those who commented in such fashion.

    What kind of parent/teacher would speak in such a manner?

    Would ANY education system be able to counter that kind of psychology in the home or at School?

    I doubt it.

    Looking at the world of Power Politics, and Economics, I see the exact same dynamic. And for this reason I fear for ALL our children’s futures, and for their children too…

    We ALL share a responsibility to the children of the future, to ALL of them, be they of our own family or of another nation.

    There is a lack of maturity so widespread, so embedded, so corrosive that it emerges even here, on Positive News, in a discussion about our children’s welfare.

    This saddens me, even as I acknowledge that it is becoming more visible day by day, and that exposure may well lead towards open acknowledgement and healing in due course.

  28. barry says:

    Why do so many people, who want to send their children to the school and come to live in our villages, choose not to mix with the local residents. They also set up communities within the community and do not use local busineses, this has led to many rural businesses having to shut down. Surely if they tried to intigrate, it would help evryone get a better understanding of needs.

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