September 2009 saw the demise of four Steiner school ‘initiatives’ and schools. The now defunct organisations are the Durham Steiner Initiative, Aldringham Green School Association, Raphael Steiner School (Suffolk) and Welsh based Steiner school Dan Yr Afallen. Basic information about the organisations concerned can be found by searching the Charity Commission website.
The Durham ‘initiative’, only active a couple of years, had been running a small kindergarten and toddler group. Aldringham Green is a bit of a mystery to me in that it was registered as a charity as far back as 1980 yet no accounts for it ever appeared on the Charity Commission website. Charities with income under £10,000 are not required to submit either an Annual Return or accounts to the Charity Commission and so Aldringham Green was probably never a very busy school. The same goes for Dan Yr Afallen, no accounts seen for any of its ten years of operation.
The Raphael Steiner school’s closure has been covered in an earlier blog post. High overheads (wages & debt servicing) and an Ofsted report noting some health and safety issues at the school appear to have played a part in its demise.
Four Anthroposophical school closures in a month may be exceptional but if they closed for financial reasons then another wave of closures can be expected in the coming months. The dire financial state and financial control of several Anthroposophical ‘initiatives’ will be described in a forthcoming blog post.
I am hardly surprised at the demise of Waldorf schools or initiatives in the UK. The level of income of most of the parents is less than adequate for supporting children given the fees involved, given that there is no state support worth the paper it is printed on.
I strongly feel that support for such teaching styles should be supported by central government, just as it is here in the Netherlands. Whether you believe in what Rudolf Steiner taught or not, it is not for a government to deprive its citizens of the choice.
It should be noted that there are roughly ten times as many schools here as in the United Kingdom; it is also notable that the Dutch schooling system (measured across the entire schooling system) outclasses that of the United Kingdom by several decades of percentage points on almost every scale, and Waldorf education is part of that success story.
It is to Britain’s detriment that schools such as these are allowed to wither away.