Ok I went to a Steiner School and I'm pretty torn on it.

My one is the only state funded Steiner in the country - the Hereford Steiner Academy, although it was only state funded for the last year of my education there.

I'll start with the positive side of Steiner Education. The young children are raised without pressures and enjoying their learning. They develop a good understanding and are generally well sheltered while also learning good creative skills. They are approcable and genrally kind and undestaning, although this is not always the case.

That was just a summary, the negatives, I am afraid, far outweigh the positives though and becacme increasingly apparent the further up the school i went.

For starters, I was taught German and French from the offing and when French was dropped due to a lack of teachers in class 8 (year 9) we took up Spanish. What do I have to show for these skills? I have HALF of an OCN. An OCN is basically a poor GCSE equivalent based on project work instead of exams. OCN is to GCSE kind of what Btec is to A-level except no one has heard of them. On top of this my language skills themselves are dreadful. Despite ten (yes TEN) years of learning German my friend who took it for 3 or so years at a state school is far more competent than me AND is qualified to take it at A level.

Now, I do not mean to sound full of my self, but at a young age when I went to a state primary school (they start a year earlier than Steiner) for a year I was one of the best in my year and of enormous potential. One of the other people who was on a similar level to me is now headed for Oxford University, having taken German A level at school she was so good, and Spanish and French. Why such a difference in achievment between two so evenly matched? Education.

By the way, we only did three GCSE's at school: the two Englishes and Maths.

Secondly, the sciences. I was in love with science at primary school. When I went to Steiner, we didn't even do it. Our first foray into science was class 5 (year 6!!!) when we did some biology. This was gradually stepped up until we eventually completed...1/4 of an OCN in biology and chemistry with our slightly crazy Swedish science teacher. I have one friend who is attempting physics A level and is finding the work to catch up huge because we basically never even touched on it. There are two from my small class of 19 that are determined to become doctors. Problem? They are both getting C grades at Chemistry and Bilogy due to the lack of grounding in the subjects. One of them is incredibly hard working so it can hardly be put down to that!

Sports. My school (although some are different) didn't allow football. While I was not particularly talented I was OBSESSED with it when I was little. Each morning they gave us time to write down thoughts and memories in a diary. Looking through mine the other day it is full of football scores, football discussion, etc. When I played I was at my utmost happiest and I was prepared, no matter what my academic potential, to work everyday to make it in football. All ambition was however, squashed ou of me and what is more, for a school that sells itself as making happier students, surely taking away something that makes so many of the students so much happier is plainly ridiculous.

Our first and only taste of competetive sport came in class 9 (year 10) when we played in the basketball tournament of the county. We had never played in such a tournament and were nervous and up against the year above. They squeezed by us by 3 points and eventually our group came down to one game - us against the physical school who bullies. Now I was far from the best in the year at basket ball but I was, at the very least, competent and reasonably tall but I was dropped for this game so that a bunch of people who couldnt care less about it and were utterly hopeless at it. I watched from the sidelines as we were, once again, unfortunate to go down by 3 points. This one taste of competition had been taken away from me once again, but I was only grateful that those who were truly passionate about the sport were not dropped.

The english teaching and the maths teaching was surprisingly competent. Having said that, most of the content of the language paper was taught to us in the week preceding the exam as the teacher (a crazy canadian woman who was allegedly very experienced but was known to storm out of them class crying if people talked in her desperately boring lessons) because she had spent most of our time in the two years she taught us reading poem after poem.

In maths, we were taught abysmally actually, until the last year when we recieved state funding and suddenly we got a competent teacher. Yes he was Czech and some students struggled to understand his accent, but for the first time we had a teacher who I could find stimulating and who didn't, to use that old state school cliche, 'spoon feed' us work like the other teachers did!

It has also been said that the school helps people in difficult circumstances. Well this, I'm afraid is also a myth. One of my friends was saved by the Steiner School. He came to the school depressed and with long hair shielding his face. He had been bullied at his old school for being stupid. In fact, while he is heavily dyspraxic and dyslexic he is one of the cleverest people I know. Apart from this, however, there are three cases while I was at school where people in similar situations came and went and the school was utterly at a loss of what to do. One boy, who i remember as being very odd and out of place was given totally insufficient and learning support and left, still a shell of what he should have been. The same guy sits next to me in geography A level classes and is as confident and intelligent as can be.

The issue of bullying is also one which is kept mighty quiet by the school. A kid was in my class all through school and had anger problems. He was baited non stop and frequently got into fights after being bullied. There is also the normal school 'hierarchy system' with the cool kids dominating those below them and, as one of the ones who for many years was in the lower echelon I can tell you, making them feel dreadful.

Art teaching is another thing which is massively over stated. You may be, as lots ofpeople are, that the Steiner School is an arts based school. This is not the case. After my ten years I can tell you, we did the same pictures year on year (brown leaves in autumn...green leaves in spring...oooh...always accmopanied by a poem) and yet were never told how to draw, simply that me must do it. In class 10, for the first time!!!, we had an actual art teacher, well, if you can call her that. She was an Australian woman who was good at art and had had kids at the school, whether she was qualififed or not I have no idea. I managed to learn nothing at all off her in my 9 or so months of lessons as, by this point I had grown so resentful of the school I did as little work as possible in lessons that I did not consider to be important to my sixth form education.

The work we did was not marked with grades until class 7. When it was my work, I seem to remember, came to light as suddenly I had something to work towards! When I recieved my grade and comments back, however, I was to be dissappointed. What do you think let me down? My writing? My essays? My spelling and grammar? Certainly not. In fact my spelling and grammar, and that of several other students' was better than our main teacher at the time as she was dyslexic and an ex hippy who I do not doubt for a moment smoked an awful lot of drugs when she was younger. What actually got my work marked down was my minimalistic decorations. While others around me drew elaborate borders and colourful pictures, I felt that a coloured line and and black and white sketch would suffice. Yet this became an dongoing theme and, the more it happened the more resentful I became and the less effort I put in.

I do believe that, if GCSE's were offered in foreign languages, sciences and other topics that we actually study, such as RE, the whole system would gain an element of focus. What was most frustrating was the whole lack of focus and lack of ambition. With a little bit more drive I am sure that I could have been a much better student than I am now and quite possibly an Oxbridge candidate as well!

I could go on but I must admit, I am becoming rather frazzled with all this typing!!! I know this is seriously long but I just think people should be aware of a lot of the pit falls of Steiner. I think there is a serious danger that talent can be wasted as I believe it was in my case. I was naturally gifted at languages and sciences and an able athlete who was given such a tiny amount to aim for I felt like a dog trying to jump through a pin hole!

Hope this is interesting to people and I am sorry but I simply cannot be bothered to read through it so beware the typos etc.