Why was this bid to set up a Steiner School rejected?

(93 Posts)
nlondondad Tue 09-Jul-13 16:04:04

The background to this story is in the original posting on thread

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/education/1792362-What-do-you-think-of-the-plan-for-a-new-free-School-in-Islington

One of the things that has started to come up is the interesting point that there were TWO competing Bids to set up a Free School on the old Ashmount site. Bellevue Place Ltd won this competition defeating the bid from a group of parents who wanted to set up a Steiner School. Why did the Steiner bid fail?

The Steiner Bid was led by parents and teachers at the fee paying Steiner primary in Hornsey. (The plan was, if they had succeeded to move that school to be the primary section of the new, all through Steiner School on the Ashmount Site.) As such, surely it was just the sort of group that the Free School idea was set up to support was it not? And the DFE has no problem with Steiner in view of the other Steiner Schools it has approved.

The Steiner Free School was to be all through, age 4 to 19, so they cannot have been planning for more than one form entry, possibly less than thirty at that. At the moment in London there is no secondary steiner provision at all, with a few fee paying, private, Steiner schools. The Hornsey School's existence already demonstrates prior core demand. Steiner people tend to be very committed, not that well heeled, and so greatly welcome being able to have state funded Steiner provision, rather than having to pay for it as they usually do. This school would have drawn support from Steiner adherents at least from all over London. There are millions of people living within a 45 minute commute by public transport, London is like that, and no doubt Steiner families would have chosen to move into the general area as well.

I have no doubt they would have filled their places, and also that they would have had no impact on recruitment on local schools as Steiner people are such a minority, and the school small in numbers anyway. (As both bidders were planning to refurbish the existing old Ashmount building they are the same in that regard. And, I would say, are, on that point, both equally misguided)

However on getting "evidence of demand" they left nothing to chance.
You see they made a really big effort. They had a stall down at Crouch End Broadway several saturdays running, distributing leaflets, talking to anyone, who like me, wanted to know more. They handed out leaflets on several occasions to commuters leaving Archway and Highgate tubes in the evening, and leafleted through the doors of the area local to the proposed site. There were leaflets in the local libraries and good, local press coverage. Bellevue did NONE of this at all. Despite what they say on their web site they never did go out on the streets.

So what did Bellevue have they did not?

curlew Tue 09-Jul-13 16:10:03

"So what did Bellevue have they did not?"

Not being as mad as a box of frogs and believing in gnomes?

ReallyTired Tue 09-Jul-13 16:13:11

I imagine that DFE wants a school that will meet the needs of the surrounding area, rather than "steiner families". Prehaps there is a need for a more mainstream school where children are taught to read and write from the age of four rather than reception.

There is a huge crisis in London for school places. Selling off an ex school to a housing association would just exasabate the schools crisis.

nlondondad Tue 09-Jul-13 16:16:05

@curlew

Your point is vividly put. But as the DFE have approved three or four, I forget, Steiner Free Schools already, the fact it was a Steiner school (that IS what you meant is it not?) is an insufficient reason.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 09-Jul-13 18:28:13

I wish the Steiner School where I live had not been approved. I think it's beyond outrageous that public money has been used to bail out a private school that people weren't prepared to pay for, and now people are coming from all over to send their kids to the free gnome school that is leaching money from the other schools in the area. Disgraceful, so it is.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Tue 09-Jul-13 18:31:25

Steiner.

Isn't that the school that pushes the idea that white people are spiritually more advanced or intelligent or some such rubbish?

AuntieStella Tue 09-Jul-13 18:34:35

The difference might come down to the age groups: this document highlights the desperate need for primary places based on the borough's own stats obtained by FOI request. It seems they are only coping with primary demand at present because of bulge classes, and demand is set to rise. So an exclusively primary school does seem to make more sense, especially given the impending London-wide shortage of primary places.

FannyMcNally Tue 09-Jul-13 19:13:43

I like to think all Free Schools that are given the go-ahead are serving the community in some way. This Steiner School wouldn't because, as you said yourself, it would have no impact on recruitment in local schools as Steiner people are such a minority. So what would be the point? As a tax-payer I wouldn't be too happy that money that could be better used elsewhere was earmarked for a few odd people just so they could save on on fees.

BoundandRebound Tue 09-Jul-13 19:21:49

Delighted to hear that a Steiner school has been rejected in favour of what I would hope would be straight forward education policy

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 09-Jul-13 20:07:24

Fanny Thats exactly what has happened where I live. Money that could be better used elsewhere has been earmarked for a few odd people who mainly don't even live round here just so they can save on fees. sad

FannyMcNally Tue 09-Jul-13 20:37:05

That's ridiculous. And it's made me cross reading that. angry Thankfully Islington got it right.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 09-Jul-13 20:39:26

I'm also glad the Steiner school was rejected. Sounds like a private school for a minority tried to get the govt to bankroll their school.

Much better that a school which will appeal to the majority is approved.

Crumbledwalnuts Tue 09-Jul-13 20:40:42

Steiner schools are quite normal in Germany and they don't push push push. They wait till seven or eight before reading I think, and then it's very quickly picked up. I think for some children they are exactly the right kind of school, and I think calling those children "odd people" is very rude and offensive.

PureDeadBrilliant Tue 09-Jul-13 20:43:11

Thank God the Steiner has been rejected. Tinfoil hats are not a legitimate uniform choice.

Crumbledwalnuts Tue 09-Jul-13 20:48:30

There seems to be quite a lot of prejudice? Especially considering the invective often directed towards hot-housing. Do people really know what they want? This is from the BBC seven years ago:

"The schools give priority to educating the "whole child", with a strong emphasis on creativity. Many children sit GCSEs and A-levels, but they also experience an unconventional education in which hands-on learning through activities such as gardening sit alongside classroom lessons.

They do not have head teachers but a "college" of staff, working in a less hierarchical system.

The research comes at a time when the government is trying to encourage diversity and innovation.

Its author, Professor Phillip Wood, says he wants to challenge preconceptions about Steiner schools and explore ways to co-operate with the state sector."

"Its author" mentioned there is the author of a study by the uni of Westminster.

Sometimes this is the sort of thing that people call for when they get cross about facts being rammed down children's throats.

southeastastra Tue 09-Jul-13 20:50:48

don't see why that wasn't allowed, we are allowed to have faith based schools funded by the tax payer - all religion is based on woo isn't it.

BikeRunSki Tue 09-Jul-13 20:51:02

Why don't you put in a Freedom of Information request to the local authority and ask them OP? They will be able to explain the social, economic, needs-based and other drivers behind approving or rejecting a free school application.

muminlondon Tue 09-Jul-13 21:01:11

The local authority doesn't decide - Gove's department does. It took nearly two years and several legal challenges for him to release the impact assessments for schools approved in 2010.

FannyMcNally Tue 09-Jul-13 21:01:38

'Odd people', as you very well know, referred to the fee-paying parents. Which is a true description.

BikeRunSki Tue 09-Jul-13 21:07:18

Ok, thanks MuminLondon. But it is surely public information?

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 09-Jul-13 21:07:53

Not just fee paying parents but fee paying parents who think the state should pay their fees.

Crumbledwalnuts Tue 09-Jul-13 21:10:14

Did it really? No I didn't know that at all. And I think they wouldn't be fee-paying? A normal hothousy environment might be right for your children. Some children will be better off with something very different.

Crumbledwalnuts Tue 09-Jul-13 21:13:28

Well they do pay for a state education Fanny, and as taxpayers can get one in a madrassa or a church school, I don't see why not in a Steiner. They might be forced into being fee=paying parents otherwise, because the "learn to read at the age of four" might not suit their children in the slightest, they get labelled as failures and never recover. In Germany Steiner schools seem to do ok.

WouldBeHarrietVane Tue 09-Jul-13 21:13:32

Sounds good that it was rejected, tbh

muminlondon Tue 09-Jul-13 21:45:38

BikeSkiRun You'd think so. But secrecy over free schools and scandals over Gove's advisers (the Mrs Blurt emails, @ToryEducation) have been going on for two years:

www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/sep/20/emails-blocked-gove-adviser

The Information Commissioner overruled him several times and even put the department in 'special measures'!

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20809641

So he's very grudgingly releasing information but it's all over the place, hard to put together as a coherent whole.

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