I am a single parent committed to state education. Never believing for one moment I would send my children to an independent school I found myself attracted to the local Steiner school. My twins had been premature and tiny I felt the early testing in our local schools would be too much for them. Now aged 10 I think I was right. The pressure on children to learn to read to meet the key stage one targets would have been too much for my children.. Over time they have caught up and are preparing to go into a state secondary school. I struggled with my choice having been a Labour Party member for many years evening working for an MP. As our pioneer school was committed to diversity and to be part of the state system I joined and helped them try to ensure this approach to education was available to all regardless of ability to pay by being a part of the local state school system. Despite all efforts we failed and have had to continue down the independent school route but desperately want to be able to accept any family who wants Steiner education for their child. We still hope for state funding to achieve this dream.
The Steiner curriculum is rich and broad, interweaving all the subjects of the national curriculum in an imaginative and artistic way. It is a truly comprehensive system and along with most European schools we introduce reading and writing at age 6 when we believe children are better equipped to absorb that kind of learning. There is a lot of evidence to support that. Two languages are also taught from that age and at least 2 musical instruments from age 8. Children in the senior schools take GCSEs and A’Levels and go to university like any other school but they are not tested at 7 but in our state school are tested at 11 although currently parents boycott it.
Rudolf Steiner’s ideas around mysticism and re-incarnation are not taught in Steiner schools and we are strongly ant-racist in our teaching and in the culture of respect for others and the environment which imbues the schools and the curriculum. Whilst Steiner schools do attract some parents who are against the use of vaccinations that is a matter for their judgement and not something any school would advocate.
There is currently only one Steiner school available under the state system. It is so popular it could be filled 5 times over. The evidence for demand is overwhelming and extending the choice of a Government funded Steiner education to a wider number of families is long overdue.