Ethos and Aims
According to the early 20th century Austrian educationalist Dr. Rudolf Steiner, the goal of Waldorf education is "to produce individuals who are able, in and of themselves, to impart meaning to their lives".
We strive to be an example of Steiner Waldorf education that integrates regulatory compliance and best-practice Waldorf education in our effort to become an outstanding school by 2021, illustrating the benefits of this form of education for the development of able young people in service to humankind in small and big ways, according to their personal ability and vision.
We are one of more than 1,200 Steiner-Waldorf schools worldwide, the largest group of independent, non-denominational private schools in the world. In Great Britain, we are part of the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship.
The first Steiner-Waldorf school opened in Germany in 1919; the first in the UK in 1925. We aim to work with and develop this rich cultural heritage to serve in the global community as stewards of social renewal.
Our mission is to make possible the experience of life as a purposeful journey on which everyone may discover their gifts and talents and their capacity to bring relevant and worthwhile contributions to the world.
We do this on the basis of Rudolf Steiner's humanitarian Waldorf curriculum as outlined in the publication edited by Avison and Rawson: "The Tasks and Content of the Steiner-Waldorf Curriculum" ("The Yellow Book"). Teachers work with the curriculum according to what they meet in the pupils of their classes to awaken and inspire their critical thinking, emotional intelligence and artistic expression.
The realisation of responsible human freedom is the foundational tenet of Steiner Waldorf education. We strive to help students become free, resilient, creative human beings who lead lives of purpose and direction.
We are mindful of Rudolf Steiner's thought that, "You will not be good teachers if you focus only on what you do, and not upon who you are."
Steiner Waldorf education fosters students’ intellectual, social, and emotional growth as they pass through distinct stages of development, from childhood to adulthood.
In the Upper School, students learn best from experts in their fields, faculty who encourage independent thought and the pursuit of truth. Through challenging intellectual engagement, students begin to master a wide range of subjects as they come to understand themselves and their places in the world.
Our dedicated faculty and staff support students’ sense of self-reliance, social responsibility, and moral purpose. Our diverse community is a source of invaluable human experience from which students learn and grow. Our school encourages young people to develop the highest human capacities and become citizens of the world.
To this end we operate an "all-through", co-educational, comprehensive school for children from age 3 to 18/19 offering the full Waldorf curriculum and a rigorously assessed level 3 university-access qualification called the Certificate of Steiner Education which is quality assured by the Steiner Education Development Trust (SEDT) based in New Zealand.
The certificate is equivalent to other level 3 qualifications at Key Stage 5 such as A-levels, the IB, Abitur etc.
We are one of four schools in Britain, ten schools in Europe and 15 schools worldwide to offer this certificate.
To date all students who have applied to universities, including British universities, based on this certificate have been accepted. They represent a wide range of subjects from fine art and music to computer science.
The understanding of Steiner Waldorf education which we work with at our school is the following:
- We put a priority on the relationship of the learning material to the human being.
- Our subjects are purposely set in inter-disciplinary contexts wherever possible.
- We teach through a phenomenological or experiential methodology – that is, from observation of, and personal involvement with, phenomena leading to concept (inductive method). This stands in marked contrast to the conventional format of teaching from presentation or description of the concept to confirmation of examples of that concept (deductive method).
- Our educational approach, whilst generally more time-consuming for teachers, is also a great source of inspiration for them in working to facilitate the emergence of healthy young humans who are conscious of their own uniqueness, their own skills and abilities and who have a healthy orientation to the world that they are moving into.
- The premise from which Steiner education starts is that "each human being comprises body, soul and spirit" (Rawson and Richter 2000: 14). Our education is meant to be part of the process whereby "the spiritual core of the person [strives] to come ever more fully to expression within and through the organism he or she has inherited and must individualise" (op. cit.: 7).
- To this end, the range of human faculties are awakened (cognitive, affective, creative, etc.) in a balanced way according to the Steiner's proposed model of human development.
- Integral to Steiner's thoughts on school education is the encouragement of a balanced growth towards "physical, behavioural, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual maturation".
- Steiner pedagogy recognises
"willing" (the control of limbs and bodily movement),
"feeling" (the affective domain of the aesthetic and emotional senses) and
"thinking" (the cognitive domain of rational thought).
- Willing dominates pedagogy up to age seven when learning by imitation is very important. Between 7 and 14, children learn through their aesthetic senses, whilst from 14 upwards attention is given to the rapidly awakening senses of reason.
- The Waldorf curriculum is based on Steiner's view of child development and what is appropriate for children of each age. It has evolved over the years through a testing in practice of this principle and is documented in publications such as Rawson and Richter (2000).
- Ideally, pupils follow the curriculum from early years through Classes 1 to 12. Formal learning begins at age 7.
- Before then, children are said to learn "primarily through imitation and play", and what they need according to Steiner principles is "a secure, caring and structured environment where activities occur in a meaningful context" (Rawson and Richter 2000: 16).