The Bigger Picture
Mission & Vision
"Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel" - Socrates
New School provides a rigorous, pioneering education inspired by the internationally recognised Waldorf curriculum. The education is built on a foundation of creativity and is guided by an understanding of the developing human being; balancing imagination, critical thinking and academic excellence. Our approach to learning enables each child to uncover and nurture the unique gift that they bring to the world, so that when they leave, they have a strong sense of self and purpose in life.
We live in a time of unprecedented change. What is innovative today will be obsolete tomorrow. Progress calls for new ideas, fresh perspectives and an abundance of courage and creativity. Through inspiring learning, inner strength and joy in the children of today, New School, Canterbury nurtures the character and creative intellect of tomorrow’s leaders. Through not only understanding but also directly experiencing the reciprocal relationship we have with nature, we aim to develop a generation who will care for the environment out of love rather than fear of what will happen if they don't. Whilst rapid change is necessary, instilling a sense of fear is leading to increasing eco-anxiety amongst children and with it paralysis rather than a sense of agency.When fear rises within us we are unable to live in the present experience of life, instead we can become entangled within and constricted by the stories that we project.
Through creating a community that lives by the values we hope to instil within our children, that makes wellbeing a priority and nurtures a physical and heart connection with our environment, we hope to become an inspiration for other schools and to change the emphasis of education from creating leavers who can slot into todays economy, to young leaders with a sense of agency and purpose. Through daily recycling and composting, weekly clothes swaps, rainwater harvesting, seasonal caring for wildlife etc, the children have already developed positive habits for life.
The first Waldorf school was founded in Stuttgart in 1919. Today there are over 1,100 Waldorf schools and almost 2,000 Waldorf kindergartens in some 80 countries around the globe. In September 2019 we marked 100 Years of Waldorf Education worldwide and it was on the very day of the 100 year anniversary that, after two years of waiting, the Dfe granted our New School here in Kent, Independent School status.
Much of the children's education is connected to the environment in which we are situated - on a 3.5 acre site, surrounded by a Biodynamic farm in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
We encourage a reciprocal relationship with nature through caring for our site and wildlife as well as using and appreciating what nature provides. The children learn how to grow what's needed to encourage biodiversity, they learn how to use lesser known fruits such as Medlars (rather than wasting them) and we gift what we can't use to the local community. Rather than buying in dyed wool for our knitting we make our own natural dyes from things on site such as walnuts and are working towards growing a whole natural dye garden alongside a fully functioning medicinal garden for our therapeutic team.
We have a team of volunteers who are gathered from our local community. They are either more elderly or at risk of feeling isolated but instead have found new skills and a sense of purpose through this work. This project also engenders real respect from the children who look on this older generation as wisdom keepers.
Poetry, song and drama achieve one of the essential goals of Waldorf Education; to integrate Head, Heart and Hands.
Through this daily participation in the dramatic arts - singing, poetry, the playing of flutes and movement, the children gain self-confidence, an appreciation for language and a deeper understanding of themselves, others and the world around them.
Many students from Waldorf Schools have gone on to use their performance skills as the starting block for successful careers within theatre or film, others may never occupy a stage space again but will undoubtedly have gained a deeper understanding of themselves and greater empathy for others alongside a healthy dose of self-confidence.
Community Theatre Space:
Our Enso Theatre offers the children at our school an opportunity to perform within a professional theatre space. It also allows us to bring a year round programme of cultural activity to enrich the lives of our families and the wider community.
We are currently seeking funding to refurbish our theatre roof and to purchase a new boiler so that we can use it year round.
New School inspires a love of learning and has each child’s wellbeing at its heart. New School provides a broad curriculum, balancing academic, artistic and practical subjects alike. In this way we address the whole child in thinking, feeling and doing, cultivating physical wellbeing, a rich inner life, flexibility in thinking and a joy for learning.
It is well researched that spending regular time in nature with animals has a positive impact on children’s happiness and sense of wellbeing. Alongside weekly walks to the woods and engaging with the abundant wildlife on site, we are developing a partnership with our neighbouring stables, allowing our children to spend time with their horses. Our longer term ambition is to have land for donkeys and goats on our site.
Compass Rose | Therapeutic Team
To support the wellbeing and mental health of our children and families we work in partnership with Compass Rose. Compass Rose work through Meeting Together, Moving Together and Navigating Together to provide support and advice to families, teachers and our community.
On the cusp of a breakthrough...
New School started as a result of Canterbury Steiner Closing in 2017. They closed their doors to children in December and sold the site to a developer. We opened our doors as a home education support group 3 weeks later, in January 2018 having persuaded the developer to let us 'look after the site until he achieved planning permission'. We nurtured this relationship over time and now have a 10 year rolling lease with an option to purchase the land when we can.
As children, we who started this new school, went through this education ourselves and know what it has given us and our peers. We are passionate about this education for our children but also for it to continue here in Kent. We started our school with huge amounts of energy and dedication but no start up funds and 5 years on, having been through a pandemic, we are still here and growing.
We have caught the eye of Aonghus Gorden OBE, who runs the Ruskin Mill Trust. He believes strongly that our innovative approach could be the catalyst for wider change for the good within the Waldorf movement. He is supporting us to set up a Land Trust to buy back our site that would then rent back the site to the school for peppercorn rent - giving us more working capital to invest in the education. He has almost secured our first £350k as a downpayment for the purchase of the site.