Frequently Asked Questions
How do children transition/adapt to mainstream education?
In general, children of all ages adapt very well to moving in either direction. More sensitive children may notice a difference in the levels of pastoral care as there is a strong sense of community and a family atmosphere at New School where classes and their teacher stay together over many years.
The Steiner Waldorf Curriculum and the mainstream curriculum cover similar work; the key difference is in the teaching approach, methods and timing rather than content. The content is broader in the humanities, languages, and arts and it is more intergrated and experiential.
Differences in the timing of curriculum delivery tends to result in the children being ahead in some subjects and behind in others.
In Kent, there is a Kent Test at 10 years old for entry into grammar schools at 11. We do not prepare our children for this. The next entry point into the grammar school system is post GCSE's at 16 years old.
At New School we intend to offer GCSE's in English, Maths and the sciences with strong portfolios and main lesson books for humanities, languages and the Arts to ensure maximum opprotunities for our students post GCSE.
One of our local Grammar Schools is one of the top in the country for 6th form science. They are very keen on Waldorf pupils and many of those who have been accepted have done well and also been chosen to be Head Girls or Head Boys.
The Steiner Waldorf teaching approach is based on the individual child and develops early, deep-rooted self-confidence, strong communications skills and a belief in their own creativity - all of which are important skills for life.
Can students go to university after New School?
Absolutely! Our wish for our graduates is for them to have the widest possible opportunities. We intend to grow our school with our oldest children, to middle and eventually upper school. We are in discussion with the IB World School, Kent University, ACTS and the Waldorf Fellowship exploring a pioneering qualification that would enable our students to pursue the rich and exciting 6th form Waldorf Curriculum and gain a well recognised accreditation that gives our children access to University.
Waldorf pupils are also extremely popular with our local grammar school which has one of the best reputations in the country for their A-level science programmes.
What are the main differences between New School and Mainstream Schools?
There are so many differences and the best way to understand them is to come and spend time at the school, and by coming to some of our talks or events.
Waldorf Education values the arts, critical thinking and creativity and does not pursue academic instruction before the age of six. Mainstream schools in the UK put a high value on standard and measurable academics, with a focus on maths and reading, starting at age four.
Waldorf Education is built on an understanding of a childs development. It nurtures the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well being of children. It strives to equip children with self understanding so that they are self fulfilled and can pursue their individual purpose. It is founded on an undersanding of our connection with the earth. Sustainability permeates everything from the classroom environment, the quality of the materials, the relationships between people, the earth and each one of us.
The curriculum is age appropriate. It is based on the needs of the children in each class. Each lesson is multi-faceted, incorporating art, music, and movement so the subject becomes accessible to different kinds of learners and so that a child's whole being is nourished.
Children at a Waldorf School are given the time to allow their innate intelligence and talents to blossom. This is reflected in the approach to IT. At New School children are able to stay children for longer which gives them very strong roots and a strong sense of self. This enables them to reach their highest potential, whatever that might be.
There is a strong sense of unity and working towards the collective good rather than working against each other for individual gain. This is reflected in its approach to sport and games.
Why does the school have rules about the type of food that can be brought into school?
There are a number of reasons;
Firstly, the children have a full and active day and it is important that they receive wholesome and nourishing food.
Secondly, foods containing large amounts of additives such as sugar are not only unhealthy, but also often lead to hyperactive behaviour, which impedes the learning experience of the whole class.
Thirdly, elaborately packaged or novelty foods, particularly those aimed at the packed lunch market, can lead to unfriendly and competitive behaviour amongst the children.
Isn't being a fee-paying school contrary to your values?
Steiner Waldorf Education is non-selective and should be available to any family that wants it. Steiner Schools are state-supported in many countries around the world; however, in the UK this is not the case and as such most Steiner Waldorf schools are obliged to charge fees in order to operate. There is one Steiner Academy in the West of England which does not charge fees.
Our fees are tied closely to the actual running costs. We are in the process of developing a bursary scheme and a Suggested Donation for high earners which supports this.
What happens if we really want a Steiner Waldorf education for our child but can't afford to pay the fees?
The Steiner Waldorf movement has, as an ideal, that children who would benefit from this education should not be refused entry on the basis of lack of money. However, as a start up, we are currently not in a position to offer large bursaries.
If you interested in your child attending but can’t afford the whole fees we do encourage you to get in touch by emailing us. Our finance team will then contact you to see if there is a possibility that we can help.
We are developing a pioneering Bursary Scheme whereby wealthier families can pay a voluntary recommended donation. 100% of this donation will go towards bursaries.
My five year-old can already read and write. Won't she be bored at the Steiner school?
The range of activities at this age group is much wider than a focus on reading and writing. The children engage in painting, crayon drawing, singing, a foreign language, gardening, puppet shows, cooking, stories, etc... The skills already attained will be strengthened and deepened in an exciting and interesting ways and the children will have an opportunity to develop emotionally, spiritually, creatively and physically.
What is your provision for ICT?
A familiarity with all the technologies that surround us and influence our lives is an essential part of a complete education. There is growing evidence, however, that too much ‘screen time’ is detrimental to children and Steiner schools do not shy away from engaging in critical debate about the appropriate use of computers and screen time. Computers are generally used by students at secondary age and not earlier. They very quickly master the necessary ICT skills and many go on to successful careers in the computer, film and TV industries.
What is the difference between Steiner and Waldorf Schools?
The terms Steiner and Waldorf Schools are used inter-changably. They can be referred to as Steiner, Waldorf or Steiner-Waldorf Schools. Rudolf Steiner was the inspiration behind the education and Waldorf-Astoria was the name of the first school that he set up in Germany in 1919.
In the UK, Steiner-Waldorf Schools are generally called Steiner Schools and in the USA and Europe they are generally called Waldorf Schools. We chose to call ourselves a Waldorf School as we wish to be an international school and to align with the education rather than a person.
Will my children get a recognised qualification?
We are planning to go up to 18 with our current 10 year olds. We wish for our pupils to have maximum opportunity. At 16, we plan to offer enough GCSE's, alongside the Waldorf Curriculum, to ensure that our pupils can get into the best local grammar school if they wish to.
Is New School religious?
No. New School is a Waldorf School and Waldorf schools are non-sectarian and non-denominational. They educate all children, regardless of their cultural or religious backgrounds. The pedagogical method is comprehensive and aims to foster a recognition and understanding of all the world cultures and religions. Steiner schools are not part of any church. They espouse no particular religious doctrine but are based on a belief that there is a spiritual dimension to the human being and to all of life. Parents from a broad spectrum of religious, spiritual and philosophical backgrounds send their children to Steiner schools.
The Waldorf Curriculum understands the profound interconnection of all things at a micro (quantum) and macro (universal and cosmic) level and the interconnection between mind, body and soul. Although this view is becoming the dominant 21st C scientific world view, it sometimes sat awkardly alongside the more empirical 20th C world view.
In most Steiner schools there is a regular religious education lesson in which the aim is to cultivate a moral mood towards the world and our fellow human beings. In the younger classes a sense of wonder, respect and reverence is central. In the older classes the focus is on the phenomena of idealism, striving and overcoming adversity. Story material from all sources, including a broad range of folk and religious traditions, together with the biographies of inspiring individuals is used.