Thursday, December 07, 2006

Fired Up for Fundraising!

I returned from the Fellowship's Fundraising Conference with Sir Christopher Ball head buzzing with ideas, plans and excitement! I have been truly inspired by the last two days and my efforts on behalf of Brighton Steiner School re-energised, honed and focused. Sir Christopher promised that what he would teach us was simple and easy, and that he was engaging in transformational learning, transforming our poverty consciousness into a
clear, workable strategy for raising the money we need for our various schools, no matter the figure. And he delivered what he promised. Early on he had asked us all how much we needed; the figures ranged from £60,000 to £2,000,000 but we all came away feeling the target was easily achievable.

The conference was surprisingly poorly attended, given the financial issues that all Steiner schools are facing, but I can guarantee that all those who attended would thoroughly recommend it. As well as the Fellowship and the two of us from Brighton, Derby, Cambridge, Somerset and Cardiff schools were represented. Those interested in hearing more detailed information about what we learned might consider calling one of us: one of the conclusions of the event was the value of information sharing.

We focused on the principles of fundraising, namely:
  • believe it's possible
  • remember to ask
  • follow up and say thank-you
along with loads of hints, tips and suggestions about who to go to, how to approach them, what to say, what not to say, what sectors of funding were available and the relative merits of each, how much work might be needed and what timescales you need to be working towards. Whatever your fundraising project, attending this course will equip you with the tools you need to get the money you want. The good news for those that missed it, is that we all agreed the course should be run again, and I urge all of those involved in Steiner fundraising to attend.

Before we all get carried away with how we'll spend our new-found millions, it has to be said that there was a tougher aspect to the course. For all of us, there were major issues holding up the fundraising projects and, as every single school represented reported similar problems, it is worth looking at them in more detail. Sir Christopher stated repeatedly that there were a number of pre-requisites for effective fundraising:
  • a clear and viable project
  • a concise mission statement
  • an accurate 3 year business plan
  • a dynamic and effective project leader
For most of us, there were a number of plans potentially on the table, unhelpfully shrouded in indecision and conflict from within our school body. Throughout the weekend we bemoaned a management structure that restricted the kind of openness and forward thinking we were all beginning to take on board. We had realised that major fundraising was possible for us, but that we hadn't gained agreement on what direction our school should be taking, or how that should be achieved.

It became such an issue that in the end the final session was given over to constructive debate of the perceived roadblocks to successful fundraising, and the importance of overcoming them. Having Jane and Kevin Avison from the Fellowship in attendance, along with freelance trainer Gabriel Kaye, was enormously helpful in taking the first steps to support all Steiner schools who wished to address these issues. Firstly, we agreed that it would be marvellous to offer this training with Sir Christopher Ball again, in order to allow other schools to benefit. Secondly, it was suggested that the relationship with the Potential Trust, who funded this training, could be extended to provide other forms of training to address the crisis of management in Steiner schools. Jane and Kevin Avison have already agreed to meet Leo McNeir of the Potential Trust to this end. From the discussion there seemed to be a number of blocks about money in our schools. In a worst case scenario, it might be seen that we were rejecting state funding, because it is an unknown quantity and may compromise the education, rejecting corporate funding for pretty much the same reason, and rejecting raising fees as that would price the education beyond many parents' reach, leaving us no viable way to finance our schools.

Personally I am still a little unclear as to why the Steiner education movement as a whole, which has such a fantastic 'product' to offer, has become stagnant on issues of good management and financial planning. I came away from this training, however, feeling that the solutions to these issues were within reach, and the will to achieve them close at hand. Thank-you to the Fellowship, the Potential Trust, Sir Christopher Ball and all attendees for an inspiring weekend!

Sarah James
PR for Brighton Steiner School

Friday, November 24, 2006

Relaunch of SWSF Journal

Living Education is a journal for Steiner Waldorf Schools. It is a more modest form of Steiner Education magazine which itself was the successor to Child and Man.

We are limiting its size to three longer items and some short items for the time being. We welcome feedback. The first issue has articles on the class teaching cycle, Montessori and Steiner and architecture for Waldorf pedagogy.

To obtain a regular copy simply email the SWSF office at and place LE in the subject box and you will automatically receive issues as they appear three times a year. If anyone would prefer a hard copy the office can despatch this to you on application at a cost of £1.50 plus postage per copy.

Issues are also available from the documents section of this website

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Family who've been at school for 50 years

Family who've been at school for 50 years

WATCHING your child start school for the first time is a special day for any parent.
But when little Michael Maclean walks through the school gates on Wednesday it will be a momentous occasion for the entire family.
The six-year-old will be the 24th Maclean to attend Rudolf Steiner School, in Morningside, continuing a family tradition that has stretched back 50 years.
Since 1956, not a year has passed when the name did not feature on one class register or another.
Michael will be joining six cousins, Sophia, Lisbeth, Christina, Herman, Olga and Brenda, and his step brother, Duncan, who are already at the school.
"I am very excited to be starting in Class One," said Michael. "The teachers are nice and I will be at school with my cousins, which will be fun. I am not nervous about Wednesday and am lucky as I live near to the school."
Michael is keeping alive a tradition started by his uncle Christian Maclean.
Christian, 56, was sent to the special independent school after his mother attended a Steiner school in Germany during her childhood. He said: "She loved it so much that she never doubted which school she would choose for us."
Christian became the first member of the Maclean Steiner dynasty at Edinburgh after he joined the school in 1956. He was soon joined by his six siblings, three of whom - including Michael's father Iain - decided their children should follow in their footsteps.
Christian, whose own three children attended the school too, added: "We all shared [my mother's] enthusiasm because the style of education that you receive at a Steiner school is unique."
Andrew Farquharson, head of management at the school, said: "We are looking forward to the next 50 years of the Maclean family."
This article:
Last updated: 28-Aug-06 12:53 BST

Family who've been at school for 50 years
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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Waldorf volunteers rescued from Lebanon

Waldorf volunteers rescued from Lebanon

KARLSRUHE (NNA) - Three German volunteers undertaking voluntary service at the Rudolf Steiner School in Beirut and on a social therapy farm in Baalbek were dramatically rescued from war-torn Lebanon earlier this month.

According to the Karlsruhe office of the international organisation Friends of Waldorf Education (“Freunde der Erziehungskunst Rudolf Steiners e.V.”), the three volunteers, Marie Pfister, Tabea von Verschuer and Matthias Galle, had at first been taken to various places of safety in Lebanon when the fighting began.

When a village close to the Rudolf Steiner School’s summer camp had been bombed, the Lebanese partner organisation of the Friends of Waldorf Education, FISTA, decided to move the two volunteers working there to the German Evangelical Church’s community centre in Beirut. From there they were taken by bus convoy organised by the German embassy to Damascus airport, where tens of thousands of refugees from many different countries were already waiting to leave.

The third volunteer working in Baalbek was taken to Damascus by secret routes by a FISTA member of staff after the roads and buildings in and around the town had been bombed and there was a risk that escape would no longer be possible.

After their 16-hour rescue, the three young people were received by the Friends of Waldorf Education team in Damascus and flown to Stuttgart via Italy on the next day.

In Stuttgart they met up with a group of Lebanese pupils from the Beirut Rudolf Steiner School who had attended the UNESCO Peace Festival in the city and had subsequently been given asylum in the Karl Schubert School in Stuttgart since it is currently too dangerous for the children to return to Lebanon.

The successful evacuation was planned and executed in close collaboration between Friends of Waldorf Education, the German foreign ministry, the German embassies in Beirut and Damascus and the Lebanese partner organisation FISTA.

Some 400 young people are currently undertaking voluntary service in anthroposophical institutions in 50 countries all over the world through Friends of Waldorf Education. The organisation has appealed for financial support for the expensive rescue action.

Photos can be requested from Friends of Waldorf Education.

Account details for donations: name: Freunde der Erziehungskunst Rudolf Steiners e. V., bank: Badische Beamtenbank Karlsruhe, bank sort code: 66090800, account number: 1014250, purpose: „Aktion Libanon“


Item: 070631-01EN Date: 31 July 2006

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