In September 2014, a new Bristol Steiner Academy may open. With a surplus of more mainstream, traditional schools in Bristol, the Bristol Steiner Academy will provide an alternative for parents who wish to send their children to a school which places different values on education.
I was interested to find out more about the Academy so contacted Sarah Horne (who deals with supporter recruitment and marketing of the project) and she kindly agreed to answer my questions. I must confess, from interviewing Sarah, I found that I had misconceptions about Steiner education. It was therefore interesting for me to find out about Steiner education and I was impressed with the values and reasoning behind it.
I hope you find this interview interesting, too.
Where will the Steiner Academy be?
Location, location, location! We recognise this is one of the biggest issues for everyone interested in sending their children to the school, We are looking at sites across Bristol, but won’t know where the school is until next year. We need funding agreed by the Department of Education before we can make firm plans and we will let everyone know as soon as we can.
What age will the school cater for?
The school will cater for ages 4 – 16. Initially we need to grow the school at a steady rate so will open just a few classes in September 2014 (hoping we receive funding).
How big will the school be?
We will open with about 125 pupils and by the time the school is full in 2024, there will be 624.
Will it be a fee-paying school?
The Steiner Academy Bristol will be a ‘Free School’ which means it will be funded directly by the department of education and be ‘free’ from the local authority.
What are your own personal experiences of education?
Everyone on the steering group comes from a different educational background. Personally, I went to a fee-paying school where I received an excellent academic education that I describe as being ‘dead from the neck down’. Other people went to the local comprehensive while others had an entirely Steiner education.
Is there less emphasis on formal academic qualifications at a Steiner School?
Sometimes there is a perception that a Steiner education will not support academic achievement. People might like to know that the two people who went to the Steiner School now work for Deloittes International Accountancy Firm as a Project manager and as a Site Manager with a first class degree!
Will the new Steiner School offer GCSEs?
Yes, the new school will offer GCSEs; in future we may also offer new qualifications as they emerge but we will always offer qualifications that enable pupils to follow their chosen path through A-levels and other post-16 education.
We do think that most state schools overload pupils with GCSEs. Our curriculum will be based around a Baccalaureate system of a minimum of 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) in academic subjects (Maths, English, foreign languages, sciences). Alongside that we will provide a range of other subjects which will be accredited as GSCEs or in other ways. This system will give pupils more freedom to learn by doing – to learn drama by writing and acting not just by writing essays about plays; to learn about the arts through sculpture, metalwork, painting and drawing without an excessive emphasis on a fixed curriculum of theory.
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I hope you found this interview helpful. If you would like more information about the new Academy and/or would like to register your support, please visit http://steineracademybristol.org.uk There is also a Steiner Academy Bristol Facebook page.
Have YOU any experience of Steiner education? What do you think about the Bristol Steiner Academy opening? Please do comment below!