"A campaign for a new school in Leeds
22nd April 2012
Since applying to the DfE in February 2012 to open a new school as part of the
Government's Free Schools programme, we have been invited to interview by the
DfE to present our case in detail.
This interview will take place some time in May 2012. We hope a final decision
will be made by the DfE some time in July or August 2012."
Leeds Steiner Parent
April 24, 2012 1:04 am
Hi – a very interesting post! This really hit a nerve here as my partner and I
are actually familiar with both Leeds Steiner Initiative and Jim Wild. Sorry for
the length of this post, please bear with me…
Our child is a former pupil of the Leeds Steiner kindergarten. Our story is not
unique, and from what I have read, I would say it is actually quite common.
Steiner seemed to be the perfect antidote to all our misgivings about mainstream
education. We fell in love with the kindergarten and its open and unbiased ethos
for developing confidence, creativity, compassion and intellect. Our hopes that
the Leeds free-school would be open by the time our child finished kindergarten
also gave us hopes of a continuous Steiner education with glowing qualifications
by the end of it.
We attended open days and festivals, had personal meetings with the staff, went
to Parent and Toddler groups, then enrolled in the kindergarten. We became
involved in volunteering, fundraising and support of the proposed Leeds Steiner
School. There was never any mention of anthroposophy at any stage, and as we
weren't even aware of it we never even knew to ask about it.
After a few successful terms at kindergarten, we stumbled onto some online
information about anthroposophy, and how it permeates every fibre of Steiner
schooling. Although it came as a real shock to us, it certainly explained a few
things. Everything in fact, and so obvious was the explanation that we actually
felt foolish for not suspecting anything sooner.
We continued with an enormous amount of research, reading just about everything
we could find on the subject, from `official' sources and philosophical
teachings to independent accounts, and those of pupils/parents/teachers with
first hand experience. We found out about the practices, their explanations, and
significantly, their purpose.
When seeing things in this different light, the picture became startlingly
clear. Nothing that we encountered within the kindergarten was incidental or
accidental or done on a whim or against the book – small things that seemed to
bear no significance suddenly made perfect sense – every detail of the
experience had been designed and executed to open the senses and heighten the
effectiveness of the anthroposophy influence. Even Steiner's delayed literacy
practice – the same as the admired European academic model – or so we thought –
turned out to have very different motives altogether.
Reinterpreting some advice we had been given for the home (in the interest of
our child's creative development), seemed to suggest other agendas, and
relationships that we were encouraged to build within the Steiner community
hinted at strategic manoeuvres to make or break inter-group factions.
Re-reading the literature we received in the beginning, with the benefit of
hindsight, was a fascinating exercise – it contained nothing which could alert
even the sharpest of senses to anything outlandish, and yet information about
the school's actual agenda was really there, hidden in euphemisms and between
We likened the whole experience to a vegetarian discovering that what they had
been told was soya, was actually meat all along.
We desperately wanted to speak out, but we didn't know which parents were aware,
and which weren't. Caught between inciting a witch-hunt on one side and breaking
other families' dreams on the other, we felt completely paralysed. Needless to
say, an overwhelming sense of isolation and distrust swallowed us up, and to get
out was the only way we felt we could go. It was heartbreaking to resigning from
our warm and loving extended family, and although we aimed a good deal of blame
at ourselves, the feeling of betrayal and manipulation by some of our most
trusted family members was too much to stomach.
We consider ourselves to be broad-minded and spiritually open people, and
ironically, discovery of the anthroposophical teachings themselves weren't
actually the main problem for us – the issue was the concealment, the deception,
and mostly, the conditioning of our child in ways which we had neither knowledge
of, nor consented to. Whatever the area, whatever the outcome, this is entirely
irresponsible and unacceptable, and it was for this reason above all that we had
A few years ago my partner and I were the victims of a long-standing deception,
at the hands of someone very close and trusted. It devastated our lives
emotionally and financially, and the post-traumatic effects still haunt us
almost daily. The series of events and the shock, disbelief, humiliation,
betrayal, dismay and anger we have felt in our experience with Steiner were
Had we read a comment such as Jan Rush's puzzling `"No Steiner values" claim
before our `discovery', we would have been deeply concerned that the school we
were investing in wasn't being based on the principles we wanted.
`Post-discovery', it is just as upsetting to read, and although it is now no
surprise, it is still a great disappointment to see that a newly proposed place
of learning in Leeds, however competent the education turns out to be, will be
built on a foundation of deception, manipulation, remorselessness and dangerous
means of self-preservation. There should simply be no place for these in
Coming back to the meat analogy, it wouldn't be possible these days for food
producers to trade under such clandestine and deceptive methods, and food
standards agencies enforce their legislation to give protection from potential
abusers. The same can be said for all industries – tobacco, alcohol, healthcare,
motoring, travel, leisure, cosmetics, consumer goods, financial, property, civil
service and, tellingly, mainstream education.
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.