Though an increasing proportion of the UK population has no religious faith, or has a faith other than Christianity, children are still expected to participate in collective worship that is “broadly Christian” at their morning assemblies. Successive education ministers have said that they’d review the situation, yet done nothing about it. Now even the National Governors’ Association has said that a religious assembly every day should be scrapped because they are “meaningless”...
Michael Gove is the worst education secretary we’ve had for some time – perhaps all time. I’m not being party political, as I don’t think much of Labour’s record either – specialist schools and academies were their bright ideas, leading to the gradual, now accelerating, destruction of the state system under local authority control. Since Gove took over at the Department for Education, he’s introduced one crazy idea after another,...
Plans to open a Steiner free school in Suffolk are still being made by the people behind the Fullfledge Ecology School. The East Anglian Daily Times reports:
The Fullfledge Ecology School curriculum would incorporate aspects of the Steiner approach, which is already practised at state-funded schools in other countries like America, Canada and Australia, but bidders say it would not be designated a “Steiner School”.
The same news story mentions that plans for another free school from the Maharishi Free School Trust are also being re-submitted to the DfE.
Last year, the BHA was a signatory to a letter in the Guardian on Steiner schools, Anthroposophy, and Maharishi schools. BHA Education campaigner Richy Thompson explained,
Anthroposophists believe that they have an objective, scientific way in to the so called “spiritual” world. Children with their innocent sense of wonder are particularly well connected to the “spiritual” world, and the motivation for Steiner schools is to nurture this connection. The reason that SWSF schools do not teach children to read and write before the age of 6/7, or use computers before 13, is because anthroposophists believe that to do so damages this connection by quashing this naivety and playfulness. In reality, all it does is damage children’s education.
For more information about Steiner schools, type “Steiner” in our search box.
The BHA reports:
A group of creationists has gained approval from the Government to open a fully state-funded Free School in 2013. The group are behind the plans for ‘Exemplar – Newark Business Academy’, a revised bid from the same people who proposed ‘Everyday Champion’s Academy’ last year. Everyday Champion’s Academy, which was formally backed by Everyday Champions Church, was explicitly rejected due to concerns surrounding the teaching of creationism.
They confidently claim that the Loch Ness monster disproves Darwinism and that there is clear proof of creationism. But that has not stopped a set of controversial Christian qualifications – used by dozens of British private schools – being described as comparable to international O and A levels.
The International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE) has been rubber-stamped by a government agency, even though it is based on a curriculum that says the Bible is the “final authority” on scientific matters. It has prompted outrage from secular campaigners, while schools following the curriculum have come to its defence, saying that it is “academically very sound”.
A guest post from Melanie Byng, aka @ThetisMercurio on Twitter:
Looking at the Fullfledge Ecology School site I see that: ‘Our teachers will be creative, dedicated and both Steiner and State qualified‘.
There is no reason for Fullfledge teachers to be trained as Steiner teachers – unless Fullfledge is to be a Steiner Waldorf school. Steiner teacher training courses are based on Rudolf Steiner’s religion/belief system, anthroposophy. Here is another example, this time from the UK: The London Waldorf Seminar – Steiner education teacher training.
Does Fullfledge intend to create its own Steiner teacher training course, without the anthroposophy which underpins the entire education system? If so, what exactly would be left? If teachers at Fullfledge are trained on Steiner teacher training courses as they exist now, surely prospective parents should be informed about anthroposophy – especially as Fullfledge is already (in our opinion) describing itself dishonestly as not-a-Steiner school. This lack of honesty, however well-meaning some involved may be, will only make things more bewildering when life at the school goes wrong for staff or families.
As Esther Fidler commented in her post at UK Anthroposophy (and note that Ewout Van-Manen is still listed on the Fullfledge site as one of those responsible for ‘Vision and Curriculum’, as a Director of School Development at Greenwich Steiner School and – perhaps surprisingly – as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts):
In my opinion, the only thing setting Fullfledge apart from a regular Steiner school is that the initiative is not a member of the UK Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (SWSF), a prerequisite for including Steiner in a school’s name. Van-Manen said that many parents felt secure with the Steiner curriculum but that SWSF schools have become ‘associated with dogma’ with which Fullfledge did not wish to be associated, as (he said) “Most of the things you read on the internet about Steiner schools are true”.
More on Steiner schools (see last post), and how they might appear child-centred and cuddly, while hiding their true objectives. A comment has appeared on Alicia Hamburg’s blog from the parent of a child who attended the Leeds Steiner kindergarten. He or she wrote:
It is imperative now that the very highest education authorities intervene here, and under no uncertain terms ensure that all Steiner establishments publish full and precise disclosure of their beliefs and intentions. It is paramount that the uninformed and unsuspecting are given protection. Personally, we count ourselves among the lucky ones. The number of victims this cover-up has claimed over the past 90-odd years of Steiner schooling doesn’t bear thinking about, but in these times of the nanny-state, litigation, think-tanks and watch-dogs, it is almost inconceivable that this problem can still exist.
You should read the whole post and all the comments. If you don’t know what anthroposophy is, click here to find out what Steiner Waldorf teachers learn at college.
The people behind the Fullfledge Ecology School, a Steiner school planned for the Woodbridge area, report:
Our proposal has passed the first stage of approval and we are now on the second stage, which is an interview with the DFE. We are preparing for this now.
Five members of the project team will represent Fullfledge Ecology School at the interview.
The DFE will inform us ‘in the summer’ whether we have the final go ahead to start the school in September 2013.
Click here to read our previous posts on this proposal, any why it’s not good news. Click here to read what the Steiner Waldorf critics say.
This is a letter in this week’s National Secular Society e-news:
We have a 4 year old son who has just started attending our local non-denominational community School. Last week, along with the rest of his year-group he was presented with an illustrated children’s Bible.
We were given the option to opt-out of this but did not exercise this because we didn’t want our son to feel excluded and trusted the school that the book would be age-appropriate. It was not and our son ended up in tears over the violent illustrations of the crucifixion.
Many other parents were unhappy and we personally are complaining to the school. We have subsequently found out that he Bible’s distribution and funding was carried out by a Charity – Bibles for Children. According to their website they are active in hundreds of primary schools across the country (there is a list in their annual report). We would like to warn other members with children who may be targeted by these people and who might want to take action against these people either on principle or in order to prevent their kids being exposed to images of graphic violence.