Steiner Schools in England research project (2004-2005)

Contact: Martin Ashley

Sponsor: Department for Education and Skills

Philip Woods, Martin Ashley and Glenys Woods undertook a unique study of Steiner education between July 2004 to March 2005, funded by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). The main purpose of the research was to inform Government policy concerning possible entry of Steiner schools into the state sector and to enhance co-operation and mutual learning between Steiner and mainstream schooling.

The study paid particularly close attention to Steiner school philosophy; curriculum provision; approach to assessment; pedagogy; special educational needs provision; leadership and management; parental involvement; and teachers and other teaching staff.  It also looked at the challenges presented by the idea of Steiner schools entering the Maintained sector, and produced recommendations concerning the extent to which, and how, these challenges could be overcome and collaboration and mutual learning between the two sectors facilitated.

This wide-ranging study included interviews with national representatives of Steiner education, a survey of 21 of the 23 Steiner schools in England, a survey of Steiner teachers and in-depth case studies of good practice at seven of the schools.  The study also encompassed a systematic literature review of published empirical research on Steiner school education.

The report  – Steiner Schools in England – was published on 30th June 2005 and attracted substantial interest on TV, national and local radio and in the print media. Copies of the full report (RR645) - priced £4.95 - are available by writing to DfES Publications, PO Box 5050, Sherwood Park, Annesley, Nottingham NG15 0DJ, UK (cheques payable to “DfES Priced Publications”). The Research Brief is available free of charge from the same address (tel: 0845 60 222 60).

A one-day national conference, Building Bridges, was hosted by UWE Bristol on 8 November 2005.  The conference was successful in its aim to open up new opportunities for dialogue and to facilitate sharing and exchange of good practice and ideas between Steiner and mainstream education. Participants included practitioners, academics and policy-makers in Steiner and mainstream education.

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