'rude to parents' 'do not trust them' 'shame and humiliation to "discipline" students' 'cultish' 'they began to threaten us with expulsion when we asked too many questions' 'communication problems' 'she felt like she wasn't learning anything' 'Do not... waste your children’s precious formative years' 'many families leave after years' 'lacking in accountability' 'what I've experienced was pure absurdity.' 'My advice would be to look elsewhere'
I worked for over a year at a local Steiner College. Coming from a statutory and voluntary sector background in social care I was stunned by many aspects of how that Steiner institution operated. Staff and students were repeatedly put at risk of harm because of poor information dissemination and a seemingly total lack of awareness of the importance of that information and how it should be treated (ie. student’s medical conditions, behavioural triggers). Racism and homophobia, I’m afraid, were apparent and – worse – remained unchallenged, or considered unimportant. Diversity Awareness training consisted of a bunch of staff talking about what part of the world they were from and sticking pins in a map. The seniority of positions that staff held appeared to have more to do with their display of unquestioning loyalty and how ‘in’ they were with management, than the qualifications, experience or appropriate attitude they had for the role. If you weren’t ‘in’ and if, like me, you asked too many questions, you were made to feel very ostracised indeed. In just the short time I was there, there were a LOT of serious incidents (this is coming from someone who used to run a supported housing unit for homeless young people with high support needs). Somehow, I suspect, reporting of these was quite low. When I raised concerns about a bullying member of staff, I was informed with what I felt was misplaced pride, that this was the first time anyone had had to refer to the safeguarding and complaints policies, so no-one quite knew what to do hence the delay in dealing with it! (Unthinkable in any mainstream care or education setting!). A handful of staff members that I can think of, in positions of responsibility – particularly in regard to pro-social modelling – simply had no grasp of appropriate professional boundaries whatsoever. I left in the end, because I realised that simply nothing would change, however many flags I raised. Really and truly the people who run that institution are blinkered, complacent and terrifyingly self-righteous. On appearances it’s an idyll. I certainly thought so. Scratch beneath the surface though, and you’ll find things to make your hair curl. I am quite sure that there are plenty of people there who believe in the benefits of what they’re doing and genuinely try to effect positive change in the lives of vulnerable young people. I would not want to belittle their efforts. Thank god for them. Overall, however, it strikes me that the organisation they work for needs to take a good long hard look at itself.
I am in Forest Row… We moved here a year ago and it seemed a heaven at first – lots of posters about things like [thoughtful] parenting, outdoor play, natural toys. It seemed like a perfect little oasis. How wrong we were. A year on, I am still very socially ostracised due to my clear lack of interest in embedding myself in this culture. You can blame my husband for his wisdom – he researched Steiner quite thoroughly when we first moved here and found out things that very quickly changed our feelings about this place. We will move soon (we are only renting), but will not be moving far as this area is good for contact with both sets of my son’s grandparents. I feel sad and torn about this as I really do not know how far away I would have to move to really escape this world. We class ourselves as “gentle” parents and, as you may know, Steiner toys and schools tend to be promoted in this world too, as on the surface it offers a longer and more innocent childhood and an alternative to the state system. It pains me to know friends entering their children into this system. But there is only so much I can say… I am glad to find this site. But also sad that it needs to exist. We’re expecting a Free School here too, despite having I think the largest Steiner school in the country and countless associated organisations. What am I doing here?