A primary school teacher, Esther Fidler, has posted a blog about her concerns about the proposed setting up of the Fullfledge Ecology School
, which basically seems to be a "Steiner" school in disguise. We've already highlighted at length the problems with Steiner schools
on this site; their dangerous attitudes towards vaccinations, the racist beliefs of their founder
and their very strange mysticism being chief among them. Esther's blog
is worth reading in its entirety but I'd like to draw your attention to her conclusions, which neatly sum up the problems with this school. She says:
"There are so many things wrong with the proposed Fullfledge Free School educationally, I’ve hardly started. Lack of qualified staff (including the Principal Designate), lack of assessment, poor teaching methods based on the dubious doctrines of Rudolph Steiner and lack of clarity as to what the school is really all about. Flash words like ‘ecology’, references to (expensive) ‘Green Schools’ elsewhere – Van-Manen was initially keen to compare his project to the Green School Bali
, for all its positive attributes a luxury private school – whose consultant director Ronald Stone OBE is cited as ‘advising on curriculum’ at Fullfledge. What may have seemed a business opportunity should by now, at least in my opinion, be looking less than positive. The real influence, I would suggest, lies with those already sympathetic to the Steiner movement.
In my view, the Fullfledge initiative publicly distances itself from Steiner schools but – as it intends to teach a Steiner curriculum, using Steiner trained staff, and to adhere to Steiner’s barmy stages of child development, it is clearly a Steiner school. It appears that it will teach children to be open to pseudoscience and that it will use pseudoscientific methods (such as braingym), not differentiating between weight and quality of evidence. The future Principal appears not to believe in attending to other people’s evidence unless it fits in with what he already ‘knows’, there is no weighing up of validity – instead the cherry-picking of evidence, evidence which is largely anecdotal. I am sure that Mr Van-Manen and his team truly think that what they are doing will be of great benefit but I believe that if it were allowed to go ahead, it would fail. Ewout Van-Manen to my mind demonstrated a shocking lack of awareness of the state system and how it works, he doesn’t appear to have any recognised teaching qualifications and no experience of any other system of education other than his own, which was in a Steiner school.
I believe that this school is a test for the Steiner Waldorf movement, to try and get through the Free Schools process under the blanket of an ‘Ecology School’ (what is that anyway?) setting a precedent which other Steiner schools could follow. Van-Manen told me that he once joined theAnthroposophical Association
to further his career and that he has recently left, but this peculiar fact doesn’t detract from the influence of Rudolf Steiner, whose occult ideas clearly inform the ethos of the Fullfledge initiative.
I sincerely hope that this school never opens. Aside from setting education back about 100 years and taking money away from perfectly good, evidence-based, accountable state schools, the website itself will draw in parents who want a freer education but haven’t done their homework. The Fullfledge surface message is attractive; peel back the layers and the core is rotten. This school seems set to fail children and that is my real concern – children don’t really get to make a choice about where they are educated, and once they are old enough to make that decision it will be too late.