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?

nlondondad Fri 12-Jul-13 17:11:25

Actually, a number of Steiner Schools have been approved, and one was this time. It is possible I suppose that there is, in effect, a quota...

On the other hand there so far as I know no Steiner Free School in London, and although there are several fee paying primaries, there are no Steiner secondary places in London at all, that I know of.

on FOI very little stuff about Free Schools seems to be available through FOI.

CarpeVinum Thu 11-Jul-13 20:54:54

I cant see how one could not allow a Steiner School

There may have been an issue with their proposal, the recent push to raise awareness in parlimentary circles as per the nature of Stiener schools may be relevant, it may be felt that overall Steiner is all too well represented in accepted proposals for free schools thus far and some kind of unmentioned, informal quota system is going on.

It may be to do with back scratching, money grubbing, dirty politico shinanigins, wouldn't put it past them, but then again there are other possibilities specific to Steiner schools applying for free school status and funding.

I think for FOI there is a site called What Do They Know ?...maybe try there to find out what you have a right of access to ?

Vellimetry Thu 11-Jul-13 17:57:03

lol at 'free gnome school'
spray, arf etc
grin

nlondondad Thu 11-Jul-13 17:53:33

Since I was last on this thread a copy of people have posted messages suggesting that instead of just posing the question in the thread title. (And when the thread keeps wandering off to consideration as to whether Steiner schools are a good or bad thing in general trying to come back to the question again) I should be prepared to disclose what I think the answer is.

At the risk of fully establish a reputation as an annoying git my response to this is in two, unsatisfactory parts.

1. I asked the question because I really do not know the answer, I do not have sight of either of the two bids for a free school, and I do not know who has seen them, they are I understand not available through FOI. Can anyone confirm whether this is true, is there anyway I can get to see them? I was just wondering whether anyone on Mumsnet might know.

2. As you will see from this thread

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

I disapprove of the decision to transfer 3 million pounds from the use of Islington Community Schools to a private, profit making company. Absolutely upfront about that. Had the Steiner school got it I would still have been against (I told you I was an irritating git) but on the different ground that I disapprove of ALL tax funded religious schools, but I think I would have been less affronted as at least it would have been a parent driven initiative, and it would have had no real impact on local schools. An although I am against all state funded religious schools, I recognize they do exist, and if we are going to allow Catholic, C of E, Muslim, Hindu, and Jewish schools, I cant see how one could not allow a Steiner School. But I still would not see why it should be funded on the backs of Islington children in the other schools.

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 11-Jul-13 15:05:32

Inspecting independent schools

There are around 2,400 independent schools in England, but the educational provision of only half of them is inspected by Ofsted. The schools Ofsted inspects are known as ‘non-association schools’. Inspections are carried out at the request of the Department for Education.

There are three other independent inspectorates which inspect the provision of the other independent schools in England also at the request of the Department for Education. These are known as ‘association’ schools:
the Independent Schools Inspectorate inspects schools whose headteachers belong to one of the associations that make up the Independent Schools Council
the School Inspection Service inspects schools that belong to the Focus Learning Trust
the Bridge Schools Inspectorate inspects schools linked to the Christian Schools’ Trust or the Association of Muslim Schools.

We monitor the work of these independent inspectorates on behalf of the Department for Education to ensure the quality and consistency of their inspections and reports. Our arrangements for communicating and working with the independent inspectorates is set out in the document Protocol between Ofsted and the approved independent inspectorates. This protocol has been agreed by Ofsted, the Department for Education, the Independent Schools Inspectorate, the Bridge Schools Inspectorate and the School Inspection Service.

curlew Thu 11-Jul-13 14:14:25

No, Steiner schools are inspected by the same inspectors that do all independent schools. The inspections are different to those of state schools- independents have more leeway.

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 11-Jul-13 12:00:20

Yes I'm sure it does Pyrrah. Perhaps they are then expected to grow horns and a tail and sit in a barrel full of maggots until their inner child explodes or something. I should think that's it.

Pyrrah Thu 11-Jul-13 11:12:40

Aren't there special Ofsted inspectors for Steiner schools? I thought they would only accept ones who had some kind of 'understanding' of the system?

Some of my cousins went to a Steiner school in the 1980's. They had a fun time I believe (and my aunt was a v eccentric nutter) but really struggled when the outside world suddenly required qualifications and discipline.

Regarding the adult tooth thing... many children with growth hormone deficiencies don't loose their milk teeth until much later than other children. Does this fall under the being punished for misdeeds in a previous life and does that mean that they're not allowed to read until they're 10?

curlew Thu 11-Jul-13 11:02:00

If you look at the OFSTED linked to earlier, you'll see that one of the points made was that the older children wanted more access to IT.

ShadeofViolet Thu 11-Jul-13 10:54:39

Before I joined MN I went to visit a Steiner school when looking for a place for my own DS.

It was the oddest place ever. I was also told that they dont start teaching children to read until they have their first adult tooth. When I mentioned that my DS could already read a little the man showing us around got quite cross and mentioned the words 'irresponsible' and 'damaged'. He practically kicked me out when I asked if they had an IT suite.

AuntieStella Thu 11-Jul-13 10:44:04

If the bulge classes are permanent, someone had better tell the schools that have them ASAP. For the school websites haven't updated to show the school expansion. By the time the summer holidays are over it will be the applications round, and inaccurate information about size of intake could be important in successful appeals.

BTW, I note that Islington has claimed a "surplus" of places for several years, but still required bulge classes in 4 schools this year. There is a serious disconnect somewhere in their planning.

Justfornowitwilldo Thu 11-Jul-13 10:38:57

'"So what did Bellevue have they did not?"

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

grin grin grin

metranilvavin Thu 11-Jul-13 10:37:13

Depends what you think Gove's wider motivations are? Does he prefer the potential privatisation of education to Steiner? Possibly.

At least one of the Steiner schools in the SW is very much associated with the Rees-Mogg clan, so it may well be that they were able to apply more pressure than the Islington application could.

CarpeVinum Thu 11-Jul-13 00:32:40

Why was a site worth three million pounds not given to them, but to an initiative by a (highly profitable), with profit company, supported by Swiss investors, which as there is a local surplus of school places could not have shown demand?

Either, he has changed his mind about how much of a good idea it is to include Stiener schools in his free school idea. Possible, becuase there has been recent pressure applied for gov. to take a deeper look at what it entails and is based on.

Or

Something else. Which presumably you believe you know something about. In which case could you drop the guessing game and share what you believe to be true .... and then people might start commenting on what you believe lies at the heart of the matter.

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 11-Jul-13 00:03:39

Also the comments on the bottom of the article I linked to are interesting as well.

Crumbledwalnuts Thu 11-Jul-13 00:01:03

on the other hand..

However your link is very interesting Snoots.

Crumbledwalnuts Wed 10-Jul-13 23:58:50

Very interesting Snoot. Why do you know about this. Were you at a Steiner schools?

Snoot Wed 10-Jul-13 23:41:43

Steiner survivors' group sad

http://www.waldorfcritics.org/survivors.html

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 10-Jul-13 23:30:13

You seem very keen for someone else to make a possibly contentious statement. Why do you think that happened?

Crumbledwalnuts Wed 10-Jul-13 23:30:06

No it's only me nLondonDad. Don't get your hopes up. Everyone else is awfully meh if not worse.

Crumbledwalnuts Wed 10-Jul-13 23:29:19

Curlew, do you mean me both dismissing Ofsted and supporting them? Do you think all Ofsted inspections of independent schools are worthless?

nlondondad Wed 10-Jul-13 23:28:15

Well the thread has moved on from being mainly people who dislike Steiner schools posting, to some people of the contrary opinion posting.

few alas seem to be interested in the question I am actually posing which is:-

1. Given there are a number of Steiner Free Schools

2. Given that there was a proposal to set up a Steiner free school in Islington

3. Given that the proposers were locally based parents (and free schools are supposed to be parent lead)

4. Given that they appear to have evidence of demand.

Why was a site worth three million pounds not given to them, but to an initiative by a (highly profitable), with profit company, supported by Swiss investors, which as there is a local surplus of school places could not have shown demand?

Crumbledwalnuts Wed 10-Jul-13 23:27:35

I don't think people would be saying avoid it like the plague. And don't forget that quite a few of those children might be like my son - ie not really suited to an academic education.

Crumbledwalnuts Wed 10-Jul-13 23:26:05

In addition, if we are going to withdraw state funding from every school that parents have issues with, we aren't going to have very many left.

curlew Wed 10-Jul-13 23:25:43

If that ofsted was of a normal state school, people would be saying avoid it like the plague. And it's an inspection of an independent school which are less rigorous than inspections of state schools.

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