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Three state Steiner schools rated ‘inadequate’ after long-running campaign led by Humanists UK

Humanists UK is calling for the urgent closure of three Steiner schools which were rated inadequate by the education inspectorate Ofsted after the schools failed to prove they could keep pupils safe. The inspections are the culmination of a long-running campaign by Humanists UK to expose the dangers of the Steiner school sector.

Reports today show that three out of the four state-funded Steiner schools established as part of the Government’s free schools programme have been rated inadequate by Ofsted.

The rulings are the result of snap inspections following safeguarding concerns in a number of state Steiner schools, as well as in the private sector, which were first raised four years ago by Humanists UK.

According to The Guardian, the reports on the Frome and Bristol Steiner Schools (which have yet to be officially published by Ofsted) cite serious problems including safeguarding, bullying and insufficient support for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and disabilities. The report says students at the Bristol Steiner School were ‘exposed to avoidable risk of harm’ and ‘physical intervention [was] used unnecessarily’.

Humanists UK has long standing concerns about Steiner schools and has consistently campaigned against state funding for these institutions. In 2014 it won an Information Tribunal Case against the Government forcing it to publicly release briefings about serious problems with Steiner schools including the bullying of students and teaching racism.

Other concerns raised by Humanists UK included the presence of pseudoscience on the curriculum (including scepticism of evolution and vaccinations and support for homeopathy), homeopathy being given to pupils by the schools’ ‘anthroposophical doctors’, and the fact that a number of private and at least one state Steiner school have opted out of providing vaccinations.

The Guardian also reports that the School Inspection Service (SIS), which Humanists UK has long campaigned to see shut down on the basis of concerns about its efficacy, has now been closed. Ofsted has hitherto not inspected Steiner schools routinely as that has been the SIS’s responsibility. The SIS was set up by the Exclusive Brethren and also inspects Brethren schools, and Humanists UK had concerns about the quality and impartiality of its inspections. Humanists UK is seeking to clarify its reported closure with Ofsted.

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Ruth Wareham said: ‘Ofsted’s judgement that these schools are inadequate reflect the long-held concerns we’ve been raising about systematic problems in Steiner schools. These include serious issues like bullying, racism, and safeguarding problems which have led to  pupils being put at risk.

‘We are calling for swift action to close these failing institutions and we welcome the additional scrutiny that has been placed on all Steiner schools to ensure students’ welfare is protected in the future.’

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For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk or phone 020 7324 3078 or 07 393344293.

For more information on our schools and education campaigns visit: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and campaigning work, we’re committed to creating a fair and equal society for all.

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