Monday, 10 March 2014

Stiener Schools

Steiner School may have a dark side

The local Steiner school has just found a new site in Exeter University, the previously fee paying school will become a free school giving a real alternative choice for parents. Right now the school has a temporary home at Foxhays in Exwick and before then they operated from the huts in Belmount Park.  Now the school is a popular free school will be available to all and is so in demand it has a waiting list.

A Stiener school is based on Steiner's philosophy, he opened schools in 1919 to educate the children of tobacco workers. This is a wholesome education that can be interpreted by the teacher the official Steiner website tells the reader that these schools will help a child be creative and questioning. There is less pressure on children to read and pass exams.

There are aspects of a Steiner education that are more controversial. Steiner schools have been called "unvaccinated communities" as parents tend not to get their children vaccinated, this is because the school has a different approach to health in general believing that even serious illnesses are part children's spiritual development  Steiner schools say immunization is up to parents.

Part of the Steiner way may involve putting children in a category, part of the Steiner ethos is to read a child's characteristics by their body shape and clothing. Handbooks tell teachers to look at a spiritual realm and categorize child as various entities. Some may think this is harmless but could this categorization of children be damaging? Many websites deny  they use this part of the educational program.

There have also been allegations of unchecked bullying, the schools believe in a "gentle" approach to discipline, there have been nasty allegations of bullying that have not been properly dealt with. This is again seen as part of childhood. The Bristol Steiner school has a robust anti bullying policy that concentrates on sorting the problem out on an emotional level, an interesting sentiment in the policy is "there is no blame"

Exeter Steiner school tells readers that the school does not teach Steiner's strange philosophy but many have pointed out people would object to the stranger parts of the ethos.

So Steiner, good or bad, please tweet your experiences.

So are Steiner schools a great education or a dangerous idea? Please tell me.


  1. I thought about sending my daughter to a Steiner School 10 years ago but decided against it because I was told that their ethos is to let the child develop at its own pace. My daughter is the sort who needs encouraging otherwise, like most other children, she will be happy to do nothing. For this reason I decided against a Steiner School.

  2. Thanks, I was worried the kids only do 3 GCSEs I'm not exam crazy but I would like both my kids to get the standard 5 to get choices when they leave school.

  3. Thanks for putting links to our work at the end of your post :)

    There's something to be said for a kinder, slower approach to learning, one not based on cramming a kid's head with facts and to allow them to think, but in our experience, this is not what Steiner offers.

    Our biggest concern is the apparent willingness of teachers to leave bullying unchecked. For what reason, it isn't entirely clear but notions of karma and letting kids sort their karma out without interference has been mentioned many times on the web.

    We managed to get the school our kids went to to admit that they expelled them all because the oldest was being bullied and staff didn't stop it. Think about that for a second: they expelled without warning children who were having a fantastic time, because their sibling was being bullied and the parents were asking for something to be done about it.

    Is that a safe school to send your kids to? To make matters worse, that school also happens to be the headquarters of that country's Steiner federation.

    We did some research while we were just about to start mediating with the school through Human Rights and the results of that research were condensed into this short film:

    And you can read about the outcome of the mediation here:

  4. The page on bullying in New Zealand is not that complete - http;//

  5. The page on bullying in New Zealand is not that complete - (For some reason, the URL in former comment did not turn out right with ; instead of :)