Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Steiner Academy Hereford Celebrates...

Over 130 guests attended a recent reception at the Steiner Academy in Much Dewchurch, including Madame Mayor of Hereford Julie Woodward, Jesse Norman MP and Baroness Estelle Morris of Yardley.

Other guests included representatives from the local community, the Training and Development Agency (TDA), the Department for Education, Canterbury Christ Church University and assorted educators, local politicians, governors, staff parents and friends. The guests toasted the completion of the building programme with some of Herefordshire's finest apple juice and cider.

Following an afternoon tour of the school, which included drop-ins to woodwork, music, art and maths, Estelle Morris shared tea and scones with some students from Class 10 (year 11), before addressing the invited guests in Birch Hall. She spoke about the importance of creativity in the lives of all of us, commenting that Steiner education has a strong commitment to creativity through the entire curriculum, while the ethos encourages parental engagement with school regarded as a hub of community life.

The 3-year, £9.5 million building project, designed by John Renshaw Architects and built by Speller Metcalf is entering its final phase, with just the landscaping and garden and craft classrooms to finish. The Steiner Academy Hereford is the first publicly-funded Steiner school in the UK and has 330 pupils on roll from 3+ to 16 years of age.

The school, whose Class 10 (Year 11) students achieved a GCSE success rate for 5 GCSEs (maths and English included) of 72%, has over 60 children and young people on its waiting lists.

The Academy's Principal, Trevor Mepham, declared that this event confirmed that the Steiner Academy is open for business as a member of the local family of schools, offering an authentic and effective difference in the educational landscape of Herefordshire.

Chair of the Board of Governors and Sponsor-Lead, Sylvie Sklan said, "It was good to be able celebrate the completion of this first publicly funded Steiner school with so many of the people who helped to make it happen. This project has been a long time in the making. But in the bigger scheme of things, what has been created now - on a site that has been a place of learning for many generations - will bring benefit to generations of local children for many years to come."

Following the reception, under the banner of Arts Alive and Nightjar Music there was a concert by the acclaimed Senegalese kora player, Sadio Cissokho.

Congratulations to Australian Steiner Schools

The recent news from Australia gave a heartening example of how diversity can be recognised even within a centrally managed regulatory or `mainstream` framework.

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) is responsible in its own country for everything included in its title. Similar functions in the UK are shared by the Department for Education, Ofqual and previously the QCDA*. ACARA operates a Recognition Register which, following extensive collaboration between ACARA and the Steiner Education Australia (SEA, the Australian equivalent of SWSF), now includes the Australian Steiner Curriculum Framework.

In simple terms this means that an equivalence has been recognised between the curriculum offered by Steiner schools and that provided in the rest of Australian schools.

Tracey Puckeridge, Chief Executive Officer of Steiner Education Australia stated, `It is essential that choice and diversity in education is valued in Australia, therefore we appreciated the opportunity from the Federal Government to be involved in this rigorous recognition process as an acknowledgement of different learning approaches and pedagogy.`

The view that choice and diversity in education need to be valued is certainly one we share with our Australian colleagues.

Read further at:

*Ofqual : The Office for Qualifications and Examinations Regulation
QCDA : Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (until March 2012)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Frome Steiner Academy: good news and congratulations.

The government has announced that the Frome Steiner Academy's bid for Free School status has been successful. The proposal is for a new school to open in September 2012, starting with 26 places but eventually offering double stream entry through to 16 (i.e.: 644 places). It is one of 55 new, state-funded Free Schools that will open from September 2012 onwards.

The success of the Frome bid is a tribute to the hard work and professionalism of a determined and dedicated team and good news for the children and parents of this Somerset town.

The proud statement on the Frome Academy's web-site reads:

"Our dream is a reality - Free Steiner education for all."

For further information contact: Frome Steiner Academy

Frome will become only the second state-funded Steiner Waldorf school in the UK, joining the Steiner Academy Hereford which opened its doors in 2008.

There are over a thousand Steiner Schools in more that sixty countries around the world. In some countries (including many in Europe) the schools are partly or fully state-funded, while in others there is no state funding available. The government's Free School programme has created an opportunity for other existing Steiner schools and new Steiner school projects to apply to become state-funded Academies.

The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (SWSF) is committed to helping Steiner schools to become state-funded if they wish to, while fully supporting those preferring to maintain their independence from the state sector.

SWSF is also seeking to support parent, teacher and community groups wishing to apply to open new Steiner Academies in places where Steiner education is not currently available. It is has been developing a set of resources designed to assist Steiner free school projects with all aspects of their applications and is seeking to encourage a consistent and co-operative approach with a particular emphasis on effective models of school governance.

Groups in England (the legislation does not include Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland) who are interested in the possibility of state-funded Steiner education in their area in the first instance should register their interest with the SWSF by emailing

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New School Opens in Hebden Bridge

For over ten years the Pennine town of Hebden Bridge in the Calder Valley has been home to a Steiner Waldorf kindergarten. Two-and-a-half years ago the move to a beautiful old Sunday School in the picturesque village of Cragg Vale brought the dream of growing into a school much closer. This September the transition was complete as the kindergarten became the Calder Valley Steiner School. Its first class one, of eight children, began their school life in time-honoured fashion by experiencing the difference between a straight line and a curve. Meanwhile, two kindergartens and a thriving Parent and Child community are supporting the future development of the new school.

SWSF and all member schools send their support and best wishes to this worthy venture.

More information can be found on:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Edinburgh Steiner School's Exam Success


Pupils at the Edinburgh Steiner School are celebrating one of the best Higher examination pass rates in Edinburgh. The school, which does not select on the basis of academic ability like other independent schools in Edinburgh, achieved a 96% A-C pass rate which is 21% above the national average.

50% of its pupils achieved 5 Grade As including Tara White who achieved 5 Grades As at Band 1.

Alistair Pugh, a teacher at the school, commented: “We attribute our strong results to our small class sizes and the unique nature of the Steiner curriculum. We expand on the exam curriculum through a programme called Main Lessons, a technique which is only used in Steiner Schools. These are topic blocks which are studied continuously for 2 hours a day over a four week period. Main Lessons ensure that, irrespective of their final exam subject choices, our pupils cover a wide breadth of topics throughout their education which greatly assists them in their examinations and beyond.”

Alongside academic success, the school places an equal importance on creating a nurturing and supportive environment.

Dr Rebecca McKinlay, former pupil, explains: “The Edinburgh Steiner School gave me a broader education and range of experience than my previous school. I was free to be myself without being bullied or ostracised. I just wish I'd been there for the entirety of my education. I'm now a postdoctoral research assistant having completed my PhD at Imperial College, London.”

Please join us for a School Tour on Friday 7th October 2011. To book, call 0131 337 3410 or visit

Friday, June 17, 2011

Canterbury Christ Church University and SWSF collaboration: Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and a new Masters Programme.

SWSF has been working closely with Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) on two exciting new projects: the development of a route by which experienced Steiner Waldorf teachers can gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and also the launch of a new Masters programme leading to MA Education (Steiner Waldorf).

There are many talented and experienced teachers in our schools whose status as qualified teachers has never been fully recognised. We believe that appropriate acknowledgement of professional status should not be denied to colleagues simply because they have learned and applied their skills outside the maintained sector. This belief is shared by colleagues at CCCU and also by the Training Development Agency, (TDA), the government body responsible for teacher education.

Many of our teachers would welcome the opportunity to engage as equals with state teachers, to have their own practice better understood and to learn from and contribute to current `mainstream` practice. Many see the acquisition of QTS as one way of coming closer to realising these aims.

We are delighted to report that the first cohort of teachers is now being signed up to the pilot scheme.

This development is not only significant for the professional development of individual teachers: whilst independent schools and the newly established Free Schools are able to employ teachers without QTS, there is a concern shared by many in the sector that QTS may one day be a requirement for staff in all schools, regardless of funding.

The proposed Masters is expected to begin at Easter 2012. It will be a three year programme and will provide an opportunity to expose Steiner Waldorf theory and practice to appropriate scrutiny in a research based environment. In addition to attracting those currently engaged in Steiner education it is expected to be of interest to educationalists from a wide range of back grounds both in the UK and abroad.

If you would like to be kept updated on either the QTS or the Masters programme please contact:

Friday, April 08, 2011


1st April 2011.
The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship would like to thank Dame Claire Tickell, her team and her advisors for taking account of the issues brought by the SWSF in her considered review of the EYFS. We look forward to the Government’s positive response to this review.
We welcome her recommendations for a slimmed down and less bureaucratic curriculum with fewer Early Learning Goals and the focus on the three prime areas as the foundations for healthy development of life long skills... read more in this pdf.