In the lee of our winter festivals and with warm wishes for the new year we are sending this brief update to our wider community on our work towards the development of a Future School project.
Our Listening Post forum in November at St Luke’s Medical Centre in Stroud was a rich evening of exploration of the context and conditions for re-founding a Waldorf school in the area. It was also clear from the meeting itself and our subsequent conversations that the next steps would most usefully be served by more focused discussions with groups of prospective parents on the one hand, and providers of existing Steiner Waldorf schools or preschools on the other.
The final Listening Post that we had previously planned for Wednesday 25th January will now, on reflection, transform into a number of different meetings with prospective parents and registered settings.
The discussion points for these forthcoming meetings were very clearly established during our November Listening Post, where there were a breadth of constituencies present, from prospective parents, community project leaders, past Waldorf teachers, and those whose children currently attended local Waldorf Kindergartens and home-education hubs.
The demand for a different type of education from that which is currently being offered by mainstream schools was clear. The thousands of members of Gloucestershire home educators social media groups and the increasing demand at local Waldorf Kindergartens suggest that a different approach to provision is needed, particularly in the local area.
It was also suggested that the economics of current educational provision don’t allow for parental choice. The demand for a different approach to education was illustrated in a number of ways in our discussion at the meeting, and the importance in Waldorf Education for parent and child groups prompted us to consider how our forthcoming conversations might also welcome and include future and new parents.
For Waldorf Education itself, it was felt that a level of work remains to be done in order to match the aspirations of parents. The wider activities of the Foundation in offering high quality teacher training in partnership with Bath Spa University and in alignment with the Waldorf Teachers’ Standards was acknowledged as a contribution to the foundations of this work. Those activities were also acknowledged as part of the wider response to the critique of the ‘underlying principles’ of Waldorf Education in 2019 by the head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, in her letter to the Education Minister at the time, Nick Gibb. How those underlying principles embody a high quality of education that is relevant for our time has been a central thread of our contribution to the design of the Postgraduate Diploma in Waldorf Education and Creative Pedagogies.
As the year has turned an increasing number of reports have arisen cataloguing the challenges of education in the UK, from the wellbeing of children to the retention of teachers. With a stream of research offering commentaries on the value of educational models that include trauma-informed practice, sensory-motor integration, and a balance of head, hand and heart, Waldorf Education remains poised to make a significant contribution. As Waldorf Education progresses after a century of pioneering provision, particularly in a decolonialised, neurodiverse and creative context, it offers an integrated and intentional model of education that is, at its heart, kind to kids.
Our overwhelming refection was that whilst the lack of any timeline and model for a future school is due to the current lack of any favourable context or conditions, that context and those conditions might shift abruptly. On that basis, we remain ready to turn on a dime in progressing plans for that timeline and model, and will be reporting back on our forthcoming meetings in due course.
Wishing you a full and healthy regeneration as we look towards the Spring.
Paul and Natasha.
Related News Posts...
December 2023 Newsletter - Theory of Change
November 2022 Newsletter - Future school listening posts, what we heard in September, our plans for November: Underlying Principles & Preparing the Way
October 2022 Newsletter - Future school; cultivating the conditions for its success, and doing so in partnership with prospective parents and colleagues.
September 2022 Newsletter - Steiner and research - the return of pedagogy, and Listening Posts - the conditions for schools to thrive