Jul 25, 2018

Steiner school handbook raises grooming concerns after it suggests teachers visit children at home and give them chocolates

The Rudolf Steiner School, in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, will close down after a damning Ofsted report
Rudolf Steiner School
Daily Mail
July 2, 2018

Steiner schools should be investigated for telling teachers to give children chocolates, visit them in their homes and make pet names for their favourite students, a former schools inspector said.

Teachers at the schools which teach in accordance with the philosophies of Rudolf Steiner were given the handbook over how to educate their free-spirited students.

The bizarre book published by the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (SWFS) is part advice and part humour, according to its author.

The handbook says: 'Tell the class, frequently that they are a very special group ... and let them know implicitly and explicitly that you are the only person fit and able to teach them.'

'Rewards, for example chocolates (especially if the school rule is no chocolate) should be awarded to indicate how pleased you are with the individual.'

The Rudolf Steiner School, in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, will close down after a damning Ofsted report

A source close to Stenier schools told The Sunday Telegraph the 'advice' is concerning.

They said: 'Steiner teachers really get to know the child and there is a massive opportunity for grooming by teachers with an inclination to do so.

'I am appalled that the advice is there, even ironically.'

The man who wrote the book, senior adviser Kevin Avison, said the book offers a 'humorous exploration' of how to teach.

However, the book also says teachers should inform the children they should pick out certain children and let them see you as their special ally, the only adult who understands them'.

Home visits are also recommended.

Former chief inspector of school Mike Tomlinson told The Sunday Telegraph: 'I suspect this may well be a call to arms to the Department for Education and Ofsted.'

He added the book 'raises serious questions about the philosophy of the schools and the way they choose to see the teacher's role'.


Steiner schools, based on a system of education created by Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner, are renowned for encouraging creativity and imagination.

One of the best-known aspects of Steiner schooling is the philosophy that children under seven should not be taught to read or write.

Before that they express themselves through painting, modelling and music.

The first school opened in 1919 in Stuttgart.

There are now 958 worldwide, 35 in the UK.

In 2005 a study commissioned by the Department for Education concluded that Steiner schools had much to teach mainstream schools even though 'the consequences of successful Steiner education may take many years to unfold in a person's life'.

A spokesman for SWFS said that the handbook had been 'misinterpreted'.

They said: 'The text was always intended to be an ironic caricature and this is clearly signalled. Child protection and child safety are the top priorities for the Steiner Waldorf Schools' Fellowship and for the author.'

The first Steiner school opened in the UK in 1925. There are currently four state-funded Steiner Academies with others which are privately funded.

However, the schools have recently been criticised by Oftsed.

The Rudolf Steiner School, in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, will close down after failing to make improvements since the education watchdog's last visit in December, when it stopped any new pupils from coming aboard.

Inspectors said in a damning report that data protection had been breached, pupils were able to wander off-site during lunch breaks and that there were no 'professional boundaries' between students and teachers, with some meeting up outside school.

'Leaders have underplayed and misrepresented the school's safeguarding failings to parents,' it said.

'On more than one occasion, they have publicly stated that the failure is simply one of 'record keeping'.

'They have also stated that 'no transgressions or wrongdoings were found to have taken place' and have implied that former parents who expressed concerns have misrepresented the position. These messages are not supported by the inspection evidence.

'Leaders have failed to ensure that information relating to child protection is retained in line with the rules on retention of data promulgated by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

'They have failed to take proper steps to save the email accounts of former staff, including those of one former leader for safeguarding. n

'Records of pupils going off-site at lunchtime continue to be poorly kept. It is not always clear if pupils have returned to school.

'These standards remain unmet. Crucially, leaders do not base their decisions, at all times, on what is in the best interests of the child. This is the core principle of good safeguarding practice and a statutory requirement for all schools.'


No comments: