Ofsted asks government to look closely at Steiner schools in England

The letter from the head of Ofsted throws into doubt the future of Steiner schools receiving state funding, after several opened as part of the free schools programme launched by Michael Gove in 2011. The Guardian reports.

Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools in England, said in a letter to the education secretary, Damian Hinds, that the government should “carry out a thorough examination of the underlying principles of Steiner education and consider the extent to which they may have contributed to the common failures we found in our inspections.”

Ofsted inspectors had witnessed “inappropriate physical handling” of pupils by staff and cases of governors ignoring parents’ complaints about teacher behaviour, she said.

Six out of nine state and private Steiner schools recently given full inspections by Ofsted were rated as inadequate, the lowest grade, while the three others were given the next lowest grade: requires improvement.

Three of the state-funded Steiner schools – the Steiner academies in Bristol, Exeter and Frome – have been placed in special measures.

The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship, which represents Steiner schools and nurseries in the UK, said: “It is a matter of deep regret when individual schools fail in their duties. There is no compromise where the welfare of pupils is concerned. Our role is to provide guidance to schools in order for them to ensure all standards are in-line with the requirements set out by the DfE.

In reply to Spielman’s letter, Hinds said DfE and Ofsted officials should review the evidence from the schools’ inspection reports to discover “what may be lying behind those schools that are failing to meet the standards”.

Spielman’s letter also said the Steiner schools had a poor approach to educating children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send). “At one of the schools found to be inadequate in all areas, inspectors reported that some staff and senior leaders blamed pupils with Send for all the problems in the school,” she said.

Read more Ofsted asks government to look closely at Steiner schools in England

Do you have any experience of Steiner schools? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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