Cultivating the conditions

October 5th


News update

“The heart of the Waldorf method is that education is an art – it must speak to the child’s experience. To educate the whole child, their heart and will must be reached, as well as their mind.”  – Rudolf Steiner

One of the characteristics of high-quality Waldorf Education is the capacity to cultivate the conditions for students’ discovery of their creativity, their interests, of themselves, and for the integrated development of their physicality, social skills, knowledge and capacities.

In making plans for a future school, we are taking a similar approach. Whilst current indications mean that we are still developing our model and timelines for such a future school, we are intent on cultivating the conditions for its success, and doing so in partnership with prospective parents and colleagues, being open to its model and timeline, aware that those conditions can turn on a dime.

One of the potential catalysts for those conditions is the coming Postgraduate Diploma in Waldorf Education and Creative Pedagogies that we are offering in partnership with Bath Spa University. Such a catalyst may have a wide and deep impact on the renown and quality of our future provision beyond the impact its individual graduates will bring.

In working in partnership with parents and colleagues, we held the first of our Future School Listening Posts this last Wednesday evening at the Old Town Hall in Stroud town centre. It was a warm meeting and we were grateful to have Juliet Lambert, a trustee of the charity, join us.

The meeting traversed a wide area of discussion points where we (Natasha Ramm and Paul Hougham) listened and shared.

We heard:

  • … from prospective parents of a call for high quality Waldorf education in Gloucestershire, of how there was a lack of diversity in provision in existing schools to meet all children’s needs, and of the extensive and increasing home-schooling community;
  • … from prospective parents who had previously known of Waldorf provision locally;
  • … from prospective parents new to Waldorf Education, in both Stroud and Cheltenham. The question of how important it was for children to be able to walk to their school was discussed, but no conclusions were reached;
  • … from colleagues working in home-schooling hubs of a significant demand for support for children and parents, and a range of interests and needs for provision, some of which may continue to be met by parents home-schooling their children (and in many cases supported by home-school hubs), and some of which may come to be met by a registered school;
  • … from experienced colleagues of the initial intent of Waldorf Education to be applied and practiced in all schools as part of a wide dialogue and development of healthy education for all children, whether those schools identified as Waldorf schools or not;
  • … from colleagues working in Waldorf kindergartens of the increasing demand for holistic, play-based provision, especially in early years parent and child groups, where there are long waiting lists.

We shared:

  • … our commitment to a high quality, progressive and school provision that is characterised by its underlying Waldorf principles rather than any alternative social cultures;
  • … our understanding of regulatory frameworks for schools;
  • … our openness to models of school provision, whether independent and fee-paying, or free at point of use in the free school / academy models (Natasha Ramm was closely involved in the 2014 campaign for a free school in Stroud) or any variation of a hybrid model, as are offered in Australia and the USA. In this, we noted the contributing factors of UK education policy from various political parties, and a commitment to work collaboratively with all parties;
  • … our openness to cultivating Waldorf Education provision and principles across a wide range of settings;
  • … our openness to timescales.

We invited:

  • … all present to share their experiences of the meeting across their communities in person and through social media, carrying forward the conversation to our next Listening Post, where we will plan brief presentations on the following areas before again opening the floor for discussion:
    • Underlying Principles – communicating the essential integrity and quality of Waldorf Education
    • Preparing the Way – extending the conversation across our communities to gauge the demand for a new school and to co-create a potential model and roadmap

Do join us for our next Listening Post on Wednesday 30th November 2022 between 7.30pm and 9.00pm at the Community Room, St Lukes Therapy Centre, 53 Cainscross Rd, Stroud GL5 4EX