Friday, December 07, 2007

SWSF Statement on Early Years Foundation Stage

The recent media focus on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) that becomes law next September has required the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship to make clear its view of the EYFS, as in the statement below.

SWSF statement regarding the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

The SWSF respects the sincerity with which the government has tackled issues around childhood and education over the last ten years and does not support a blanket condemnation of the EYFS.

We recognise that the new EYFS introduces a much needed single body of regulation for the care and education of young children from birth to five and that this integrated framework is the result of a fundamental overhaul of the regulation that followed the death of Victoria Climbie.
We also recognise the progressive nature of the 4 principles that the EYFS framework is based on and that these principles have the potential to bring improved practice into the care and education of all young children.

We acknowledge that the EYFS is not a curriculum and that the Minister has given assurance that the implementation of the EYFS will accommodate and encourage different approaches to the care and education of young children.
We are concerned, however, that the progressive nature of the EYFS is overshadowed by
· the statutory nature of the learning and development requirements
· the statutory nature of the requirement to submit data about each child’s learning and development in the Early years foundation stage profile
The fact that the EYFS contains certain statutory requirements that are in direct conflict with the Steiner Early Years curriculum is causing alarm. The concern is that, without a legal solution, the statutory nature of these requirements has the potential to undermine the very basis of the Steiner curriculum which is recognised world-wide. We therefore are continuing to seek reassurance from DCSF and OFSTED that the implementation of the EYFS will not compromise the Steiner EY curriculum. We intend to explore with the DCSF how the regulations pertaining to exemptions might be drafted to resolve these two issues without jeopardizing the right to funding. A legal solution of this nature would uphold the principle of diversity of approach and parental right of choice

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Guardian - Letters

Tuesday November 6, 2007

The Guardian

Alternative perspective
It was a delight to read Nikki Schreiber's fair and down-to-earth depiction of Steiner education (Not a Guardian-reading weirdo in sight, October 30). Alas, those of us who work in the Steiner movement are commonly the recipients of all manner of negative projections, often from those who know next to nothing about it. What is so refreshing about Schreiber's article is the unaffected ordinariness that it conveys - accurately communicating the spirit and ethos without a hint of the preciousness of which we are sometimes accused. In an era where the poisonous audit and surveillance culture continues to swamp mainstream education, viable and tested alternatives such as Steiner will surely continue to gain in popularity.

Dr Richard House
Norwich Steiner school and Roehampton University (Research Centre for Therapeutic Education)

I went to a Steiner school (in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire), and agree with Nikki Schreiber that it's much harder to stereotype a Steiner child or parent than many think. There was quite a mix of people at my school - although the requirement to charge fees inevitably results in a middle-class bias.

My Steiner education brought out an artistic and musical side to me that would otherwise have been overlooked. Teamwork and mixed-ability teaching is encouraged at Steiner schools, while individual competition is avoided. This helps to build a spirit of cooperation and friendship. However, our school also got very good exam results.

Unfortunately, the lack of state funding in the UK prevents Steiner education from being a choice for most parents, and has contributed to its niche status. This is despite successive governments declaring that education policy is all about "choice".

I believe wholeheartedly in the principle of state education, but would find it difficult to send my children to a state school, because of their strong focus on academic achievement at the expense of all else. The years that I spent at a Steiner school were some of the best of my life.

Oliver Knight


Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Guardian

Not a Guardian-reading weirdo in sight

There are many strange ideas about Steiner schools. One 'normal' parent aims to set the record straight. Nikki Schreiber reports:

Tuesday October 30, 2007
The Guardian

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hereford Planning refusal

Unfortunately, the Hereford southern sub committee voted to refuse planning consent for the proposed new buildings for the Hereford Steiner Acadamy on the same grounds as last time - issues around the development not being in keeping with the village setting and traffic/parking issues. An appeal on the first refusal in January has already been lodged.

Birmingham Post Article

The online version of the Birmingham Post has published the following article.

School where learning is child's play
Jun 18 2007
By Shahid Naqvi, Education Correspondent

"It's been dubbed the "the hippy school", a place where it is said children, not teachers, are in charge and spend all day playing. But the Steiner School in Stourbridge may yet offer a solution to current travails in the state education - and even society".

Read the article HERE



The concert series is to raise money for the further restoration of St Paul’s Church by the St Pauls Steiner Project which is bringing this heritage building back into use as a life-long learning centre for all the community.

The Steiner school which it houses is in the process of making application for public funding and could be the first such state funded school in London, operating as a local school for the children of Islington.

For more information about the school and its application for public funding, contact
Jane Gerhard on 020 7359 3322
or email



Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Wim Moleman

In Memory of Wim Moleman
(26th June 1907-1st February 2007)

To be greeted by Wim was an invitation to a world of full of humanity & humour. Many of his British friends referred to him affectionately as “Uncle Wim.” His wisdom, mischievous chuckle, equanimity & profound jollity could fill the space around him, much as a glowing fire takes the chill from a cold room.

Conversation with Wim could take unexpected turns & bring surprising discoveries; I rarely parted from him without feeling that I was carrying away a special gift given by his presence. Once greeted, he would ask about my work in the UK & listen attentively. After sharing my concerns or irritations with Wim, I always saw them differently & more positively, though often, he would reply simply with a contemplative sigh, “Yaahh!” look over the top of his heavy glasses, & speak about things that might at first seem unrelated. Then later, something about the conversation would return to my thoughts & cast them in a new light, or, it might be better to say, give them new warmth. It was easy to understand how Wim was drawn to Sandra Bloom’s work on “creating sanctuaries” within social organisations.

I first met Wim when I was setting up what became the Steiner Waldorf Advisory Service. Wim had for some years before that been travelling to UK schools to “see whether we can help.” These were his busman’s holidays from work in the Netherlands advisory institute. Many a school in crisis benefited from his visits & colleagues in them would report that people behaved better when Wim was present. He took great interest in the development of the UK advisory service & was a tireless mentor & wise counsellor. Even after his cancer was diagnosed & he knew that his remaining time on earth would be limited, he asked to be sent a copy of the research report for the Hereford Academy &, aided by a colleague from the institute, made notes about it in his usual idiosyncratic English. He had a deep sense of care towards what happened in UK Waldorf schools & offered some surprising, but always encouraging, insights about what might be done. When Jane & I met him at his home to hear his views on the Academy report, these were, as always, forward-looking & positive with a keen sense for potential implications & dangers.

On matters of Waldorf school organisation, Wim was a positive realist. He knew that consultants “usually get things wrong” & said so. His advice had a self-deprecating quality that left those he advised feeling free to develop processes for themselves. On the other hand he could be direct & incisive when that was what the situation called for. Even after his official retirement from the advisory institute, he was crisis managing a small school on the brink of closure. Not a physically skilful person - he had co-ordination problems & never learned to drive - he nonetheless recognised the need of those who needed a more practically-orientated form of education. He was involved in the Hiram Foundation in Holland & supported & inspired the development of the Hiram Trust in the UK.

Wim traced inspiration for his work to Max Stibbe & Bernard Lievegoed. I first heard about Lievegoed’s final book from him (published in English as The Battle for the Soul) & was struck by the way Wim spoke about what Lievegoed calls the “Manu stream” of humanity. On another occasion he told me of correspondence he had had with the Humanistic psychologist, Carl Rogers, shortly before Rogers’ death in 1987. Wim was not so much a person of ideas or initiatives as one through whom a wide variety of knowledge, skills & experience met. I do not know whether Lievegoed is correct in suggesting that there is a distinct group of individuals who have a helping quality within them that can lead to social healing. What I do know is that Wim Moleman had that quality & we are the richer for having known him.

Kevin Avison