The News Network Anthroposophy
, the news agency for the Steiner-Waldorf organisation which runs Steiner schools worldwide, has just published an article
which states that Steiner Schools will not be getting the go-ahead to be funded as Free Schools this year.
"The schools and new Steiner initiatives which put in proposals to become a Free School will be hearing from the Department for Education around now,” a spokesperson from the British Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (SWSF) said in a statement in response to an enquiry from NNA. “We are not expecting any Steiner schools to move to the next stage for 2011 opening. This is disappointing news, but we hope that a number of our schools will be submitting applications for 2012 and 2013 once the new proposal form is released,” the statement added.
Clearly the government is troubled by some of the key ideas that inform the Steiner approach. Most worrying is the schools' apparent aversion to vaccinations. The UK Health Protection Agency regards Steiner school children to be unvaccinated
. There was an outbreak of measles
centred around a UK Steiner school in 2000, and another one in 2008 in Austria. They may also have concerns about Steiner schools links with the mystical philosophy of Anthroposophy, which promotes a number of troubling ideas, including working out children's characters based on their facial characteristics and its belief in re-incarnation. Steiner schools were founded by the Austrian mystic Rudolf Steiner, who held racist ideas, believing black people were of "childhood" and Asian people were "degenerate".
It's interesting to note that the government's Free School policy is not as "free" as it seems; in the US some Steiner schools have been given Charter School status, the equivalent of being a "Free School", public funding for an essentially "independent" school. Giving Steiner schools Free School status would have boosted the numbers of Free Schools considerably; it appears 25 schools were seeking public funds. However, it seems that there is growing uneasiness about the whole policy in the Coalition with many politicians -- particularly amongst the Lib-Dems -- concerned that the policy is perceived as unfair and divisive by the public.