|Steiner Federation Refuting Allegations of Racism and Bullying|
Steiner schools have been popular for decades among the more liberal and bohemian middle classes.
Sandra Bullock and Robin van Persie are both former students.
has learned that complaints were made to the Department for Education - that in some of these privately funded schools teachers said they thought bullying was part of how kids "worked out their karma".
Chris Cook reports.
The BHA said the government notes raise questions over whether the movement is a suitable recipient of state funding but the Steiner schools’ membership body insisted that allegations against individual schools did not reflect the culture of the movement as a whole.
Officials said aggrieved parents had produced a large amount of material to support allegations of bullying and racism. They had also received complaints about the effect of the Steiner philosophy on schools.
The officials note that Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy contains racist elements, such as that "blond hair bestows intelligence" by diverting nourishment from the eyes and hair into the brain, and that the spirit is reincarnated through the races, from "black to Aryan".
The briefings state that then secretary of state Michael Gove had been made aware of complaints from two parents that a school failed to act when their mixed-race child had been the victim of racist abuse by pupils and that teachers had used "racist epithets".
“A recurring theme in the material provided is that bullying is not tackled within Steiner schools,” the document says. It notes a complaint by a parent who witnessed an attack on their son where a teacher is alleged to have justified non-intervention by claiming the children were “working out their karma”.
Government forced to release briefings expressing serious concerns about racism and bullying in independent Steiner schools after losing Information Tribunal case against BHA
Meanwhile, Steiner's racism and bullying has become apparent to parents in New Zealand
- On racism, officials describe some of Steiner’s writings as ‘racist and anti-Semitic’. It goes on to say that ‘the Department has received concerns from two parents surrounding the treatment of their mixed-race child at a Steiner school, including racist abuse by other pupils which the school allegedly failed to act upon despite repeated complaints, and the use of racial epithets by teachers. Officials met the parents who provided a large amount of material on the anthroposophical basis of Steiner pedagogy and its apparently racist nature… The materials indicate that the curriculum is structured around the spiritual philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, called anthroposophy (spiritual science), which includes the belief in the reincarnation of the spirit through the races, from Black to Aryan… Racist elements of Steiner’s writings were highlighted in the material, including statements such as “blond hair actually bestows intelligence. In the case of fair people, less nourishment is driven into the eyes and hair; it remains instead in the brain and endows it with intelligence”.’
- On bullying, ‘A recurring theme in the material provided is that bullying is not tackled within Steiner schools. One parent complains that they witnessed a physical attack on their son where a teacher failed to intervene, and subsequently justified this approach by claiming the children were “working out their karma”. A teacher training document entitled How should bullying be handled? asks “can a child’s karma or destiny be that of a victim or bully? It is a child’s destiny to seek certain experiences to build his or her self-esteem and inner self. Should a potentially abusive situation be stopped, and if so, at what point?” It goes on to state “there are normal levels of aggressive behaviour particularly as children are exploring the cruel aspects of their nature. Every school provides the opportunity for some bullying to take place, as children test each other out and work out their roles in the classroom and playground relationships.‘In addition to the material provided by parents, the Department’s Independent Schools team is aware of serious complaints of staff bullying pupils in 8 of the existing 25 registered independent Steiner schools. In several of the cases of bullying complaints, there is also a concern about the way the school has handled the allegations, failing to investigate accusations of bullying and physical abuse by teachers in some cases‘In four Steiner schools, the Department has received complaints about physical abuse from teachers towards pupils, including spitting in a pupil’s face, making sexual innuendos and throwing a rounders bat at a pupil. At one school, a teacher was allowed to continue teaching for two days after a pupil reported that they had made inappropriate suggestions to them. The pupils were encouraged to visit the teacher at his home to deliver flowers and gifts and parents were asked if their sons and daughters could contribute towards a leaving gift. The school did refer the teacher to the local authority and he was arrested following an admission of guilt.’
- On secrecy, ‘A common accusation from correspondents is that the movement is not transparent – not only about the influence of anthroposophy and its in principle opposition to SATs, but also about what takes place in the classroom. Officials are in receipt of Steiner teacher training materials that imply a highly secretive approach to what takes place in class, stating teachers should “…never allow anyone access to lesson notes or records” and “anything indicating what the class may have learnt, or covered in Morning Lesson should be ‘lost’ before you leave the school.”’