Frequently Asked Questions
When do pupils begin formal learning?
We do not teach reading, writing and numeracy skills in the Kindergartens. In Steiner schools, pupils start formal learning in Class One at the age of rising seven, the norm in many European countries and an approach supported by a significant body of research. Cognitive skills can be introduced with relative ease if children have first had the opportunity to develop speech, co-ordination and their relationship to themselves, others and the world around them during the Kindergarten years.
How do National Curriculum school stages translate into Steiner school equivalents?
- Early Years Foundation Stage
- 3 – 4 years: Nursery (pre-statutory) = Steiner Kindergarten
- 4 – 5 years: Reception = Steiner Kindergarten
- Key Stage 1
- 5 – 6 years: Year 1 = Steiner Kindergarten
- 6 – 7 years: Year 2 = Steiner Class 1
- Key Stage 2
- 7 – 8 years: Year 3 = Steiner Class 2
What part do festivals play?
Festivals, both seasonal and those adapted from the culture that is local to the school, play an important part in the life of the child. These festivals serve to awaken the child’s natural reverence, recognition of the mood that is appropriate for such occasions and a respect for the spiritual essence that exists in us all. Festivals also provide an opportunity for participation and celebration by the whole school community.
Please see ‘Celebrations & Festivals’ for more information on the festivals celebrated in our school.
What is eurythmy?
Eurythmy is an art of movement that seeks to bring to visibility the sounds of speech and the tones of music using the medium of the human body as an instrument. When adapted for educational purposes it helps to develop concentration, self-discipline, spatial and aesthetic awareness and sensitivity to others. Eurythmy sessions follow the themes of the curriculum, exploring sounds, rhyme, metre, story and geometric forms.
What do our schools recommend about television viewing and IT?
A familiarity with all the technologies that surround us and influence our lives is an essential part of a complete education. There is growing evidence, however, that too much ‘screen time’ is detrimental to children and is especially inappropriate for young children. Steiner schools do not shy away from engaging in critical debate about the appropriate use of computers, TV and DVD.
Computers are generally used by students at secondary age and not earlier. They very quickly master the necessary ICT skills and many go on to successful careers in the computer, film and TV industries. In Playgroup and Kindergarten we find that truly imaginative play can be stunted if children have a lot of ‘screen time’.
Who was Steiner and what is anthroposophy?
Dr. Rudolf Steiner was born in what is now Croatia in 1861. He wrote and lectured on a wide range of contemporary issues including architecture, medicine, philosophy, science, economics and social reform as well as education. Steiner-Waldorf schools, biodynamic agriculture and a variety of therapeutic and curative initiatives are amongst the most well-known practical applications of his work.
Steiner’s body of thought is known as Anthroposophy, literally, ‘human wisdom’, or ‘knowledge of the human being.’ Steiner maintained that the spiritual world could, by means of conscientious inner development, be investigated empirically in the same way that natural science can investigate the physical world and so contribute to the understanding of child development.
Do Steiner schools teach religion or anthroposophy?
In most Steiner schools for older children, there is a regular religious education lesson in which the aim is to cultivate a moral mood towards the world and our fellow human beings. In the younger classes a sense of wonder, respect and reverence is central. In the older classes the focus is on the phenomena of idealism, striving and the over-coming of adversity. Story material from all sources, including a broad range of folk and religious traditions, together with the biographies of inspiring individuals is used.
In our Early Years Centre, we welcome children and families from all cultures and faiths, and many who have no religious background. As in the larger schools, we aim to encourage a sense of wonder and reverence for each other and the environment, and a trust in the goodness of the world which enables young children to grow in confidence and resilience. Our festivals are seasonal and are celebrated in a nature-based rather than a religious way, and seek to bring out in each one the symbols and images that speak to our common humanity.
WHAT QUALIFICATIONS DO STAFF AT THE NORTH LONDON RUDOLF STEINER SCHOOL HOLD?
What provision is made for pupils with different learning needs?
A child’s weakness in one area – whether cognitive, emotional or physical – is viewed as usually balanced by strengths in another area. It is the teacher’s job to try to bring the child’s whole being into balance and to offer a differentiated approach in the classroom in order to meet a wide range of abilities. The teachers continuously observe and assess children’s development, and liaise with parents and other professional agencies as appropriate.
Our setting considers all children to be special and that every child has individual needs. Our setting admits children with special educational needs whenever this is possible given the nature of the building and the make-up of the whole group.
How do children adjust when they transfer to another school or setting?
A good number of our children move into mainstream schools on leaving our setting. Our experience is that they cope very well with the transition. Their new teachers tend to report high levels of confidence and enthusiasm for learning, which balance out the fact that they have had less exposure to formal learning, and they usually acquire the academic skills quickly. The well-developed social skills fostered in Kindergarten are also a great asset in moving to a new setting.
How is the children’s behaviour managed?
All Steiner schools have Behaviour Management Policies which state clearly their approach to discipline which is neither rigid in the traditional sense nor free in the progressive sense. Each school day is clearly structured. There are clear expectations and clear boundaries.
Children learn best when they feel secure and when they know what to expect. A warm, well structured environment gives them essential support in finding out about the world and themselves in an age appropriate fashion.
How are steiner schools run?
Different Steiner schools structure their management and governance in different ways, but all have one thing in common: curriculum development and methodology are determined by the teachers. Their collaboration, on-going study of child development and immediate experience of the children ensure both the distinctive ethos and the contemporary relevance of the school.
Please also see the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship’s website: www.steinerwaldorf.org