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Do Steiner-Waldorf schools follow the national curriculum?

No, Steiner-Waldorf schools have their own curriculum which covers almost everything children in mainstream education learn, but the timing of those subjects is carefully chosen with consideration for the child’s development. For example, writing and then reading is taught when the child is around 7 years old, after she or he has had time to really develop their oral, aural, physical and social skills. Formal science begins to appear in lessons from around the age of 12, but of course the children have already experienced chemistry, biology and physics, implicit in many other aspects of their education. This makes it much easier for them to grasp these subjects when they meet them in a more academic way - when they hear about the transformation of the frog into a prince in Class 1, they are being given a fundamental truth in imaginative form.

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales” - Albert Einstein

My 5 year old can already read and write - what will she do in Kindergarten?

In Kindergarten the emphasis is on play and learning through play and activity. The children are very busy discovering the world and each other, developing their movement, language and social skills through imaginative play, crafts, painting, drawing, gardening, cooking and singing. All of these early activities are extremely valuable as building blocks for later learning. Kindergarten gives them time to develop these skills before formal learning begins. A child who can already read and write will not lose these skills, but will find other aspects of themselves growing and blossoming too.

How do you know if children are meeting standards if they do not take tests?

The children are assessed all the time, but they are not generally made aware of it or pressured to 'perform' for an exam. Teachers make sure that they are aware of each child’s levels through many aspects of Main Lesson work, weekly spelling tests and daily mental arithmetic. Additionally, children are screened annually from Class 2 upwards by our Learning Support teachers who assess each child's skills and development.

What provision is there for children with Special Educational Needs?

Our Learning Support teachers aim to support pupils, teachers and parents, providing qualified and specialised help for pupils who experience difficulties in learning. The school aims to provide suitable and effective education for each individual pupil whilst considering carefully the overall requirements and balance of the class. Therefore we consider each child with SEN very carefully to ensure that we can meet his or her needs before offering a place at the school. 

How is religion taught in Steiner schools?

Children are given an experience of reverence rather than religion. The word 'religion' comes from the latin re (again) ligare (connect,) so the education seeks to maintain or rekindle the children's connection to their spiritual self. In Kindergarten the children experience reverence as an integral aspect of all activities. In the school the children begin and end each day with a verse, and all classes gather together regularly for reflection. Religion lessons begin in Class 1 as nature stories, and by the time they reach Class 6 these develop into biographies of people who have led extraordinary lives – Ghandi, Joan of Arc,etc. These stories cross all faiths and are free from dogma and overt moralizing. For all children the year is punctuated by seasonal festivals; these are chosen to reflect both the culture we live in and the culture of families within the school.

If a child stays with the same teacher for 8 years, what happens if they don't get along?

If a teacher and child do not get along, the responsibility lies with the adult to address this relationship. The Class Teacher works on this relationship in a number of ways – from holding a neutral picture of the child in their mind before sleep, to an in-depth child study involving all the teachers and the child's parents. 

How is sport taught at a Steiner-Waldorf teaching school?

Games lessons begin in Class 1 with traditional playground games. These games grow with the children, becoming more complex as they get older. Circus skills are introduced in Class 3. In Class 5 the children begin athletics as they study Ancient Greece within their Main Lesson. In Class 6 team sports such as rounders and basketball are introduced, and gymnastics complements the study of Anatomy in Class 8.

What is Eurythmy?

Eurythmy is a form of movement whereby speech and music are made visible - the human body 'plays' the sound as gesture. Eurythmy begins in Kindergarten with stories and songs and develops through the school becoming more complex as the children grow. 

I have heard that the children are not allowed to watch television. Why is that?

There have been an enormous number of studies conducted in recent years exploring the detrimental effects of television, and other media, on children's development. Our aim is to help children develop naturally, and we believe media technology interferes with this process. You will not find computers, televisions, sound systems or interactive white boards in any of our classrooms – we rely instead on the creativity of the teachers to engage the children. In order to support our work with the children in school, it helps if they are not exposed to such media at home; and this is what the teachers recommend, it is not, however, a 'ban'.  

Where do children go when they leave Alder Bridge?

Most children move into mainstream education at the age of 13 or 14 - either a state secondary school or another form of independent school, while some families choose to home-educate. The transition into another school is smooth, with children settling quickly both socially and academically. The foundations of play, imagination and a deep love of learning that come from a Steiner-Waldorf teaching method enables children to fully engage with their critical thinking in their teenage years.