Thursday, February 14, 2008

News from Ireland

To all Friends of Raheen Wood & Mol an Oige Steiner Schools, CountyClare, Ireland

Dear All,
We have now received letters from the Irish Department of Education and Science informing us that Minister Mary Hanafin has decided to grant provisional recognition to the proposed Raheen Wood and Mol an Oige Steiner National Schools with effect from 1st September, 2008.This is an historic moment in the 21 year old path of Steiner Education in Ireland, and it is significant for the worldwide Steiner Waldorf movement as a whole that another sovereign state has today agreed to recognise what we bring to the education of young minds and hearts.As is the norm for new schools, what has been granted intially is provisional recognition, in this case for one year. The question of permanent recognition is considered then when the Department is satisfied that the long-term viability of the new schools has beendemonstrated. At Raheen Wood, an All School Meeting on 28th February will consider the question of acceptance of the Department's offer.
Alan DickeyFor Raheen Wood School Transition Group

Monday, February 11, 2008

Press Release 8th February 2008

Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship: Statement in Response to Reports from the Cambridge Review and the National Foundation for Educational Research (08-02-2008)

The Steiner Waldorf Schools Movement (UK) welcomes the reports that have been published by the Cambridge Primary Review and the NFER concerning the issues of school-starting age, pupil testing and school league tables.

Along with others, we consider the child's first years of learning and educational experiences to be of crucial importance and value for the child, the child's future health and development and the emerging society, which we share.

In Steiner schools across the world, the young child is enabled to develop sure foundations for learning. In our settings we provide an environment in which young children can immerse themselves in creative, experiential, social play. This play is not scripted or determined by narrow 'academic' learning outcomes. In this way, children develop skills and learning dispositions for life and for living: thoughtfulness, care, responsiveness, enthusiasm, a lasting interest in the world and one another. These human qualities and values elude attempts at quantification, yet are the life-blood of meaningful individual and community life. Our educational approach aims to develop a full range of competences through providing a blend of cognitive, practical and aesthetic experiences. This approach is founded on the principle of meeting children in their development, rather than pushing and prodding them towards artificially constructed targets and goals.

While tests and league tables are ephemeral and arguably insubstantial, aptitudes and attitudes are lasting and potent forces for social renewal and progress. 'Earliness', 'competitive acceleration' and relentless testing lead to pressurised learning and have questionable purposes except in their own terms. As concepts they are qualitatively different from 'readiness', 'suitability' and 'authentic assessment', or respecting the child and their learning.

The Steiner Waldorf Schools Movement supports the NUT's call for a considered review of current arrangements for the testing of primary school pupils. Steiner educators are ready to contribute to such a review and to join the debate about the most effective ways for children to be educated and cared for in our times.

8th February 2008