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Humanists UK welcomes Ofsted’s calls to close failing Steiner schools

Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman

Today Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman wrote to Secretary for State for Education Damian Hinds urging the Government to shut down failing Steiner schools. The letter also confirmed the closure of the School Inspection Service.

In the letter, the Chief Inspector of Ofsted wrote:

‘Given the prevalence and seriousness of these issues across both state-funded and independent Steiner schools, they raise questions about whether these common failures are a result of the underlying principles of Steiner education. Across the state and independent sectors, there is a wide variety of educational philosophies, and successful schools can be run in a variety of ways. Ofsted does not have a preferred model. However, there are fundamentals that need to be in place: good governance, clear lines of responsibility and effective safeguarding procedures. While we did find some examples of this during these inspections, they were very much in the minority. I therefore urge you to consider and further investigate why so many of the Steiner schools inspected are neither protecting children adequately nor giving them a good standard of education.’

Welcoming Ofsted’s action on Steiner schools, Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Ruth Wareham said:

‘For several years we have raised serious concerns about safeguarding and poor education standards in Steiner schools which have included evidence of entrenched racism and systemic bullying along with problems with academic rigour and secrecy.

‘Steiner schools have been promoting pseudoscience in the curriculum, and homeopathy has been given to pupils by the schools’ “anthroposophical doctors”. We have also been aware that at least one state and a number of private Steiner schools have opted out of providing vaccinations.

‘We have repeatedly asked why these schools have remained open in light of these damning failings and for their failure to prove they can keep pupils safe. We welcome the Chief Inspector’s comments today and we urge the Department for Education to follow Ofsted’s recommendations to shut down failing Steiner schools.

‘We also welcome the announcement that the School Inspection Service, which has inspected independent Steiner and Exclusive Brethren schools, has now permanently shut down for failing to carry out adequate inspections.’

NOTES:

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.

For more information contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk  or 07 3933 44293.

Read our recent news item on three state Steiner schools being rated inadequate:

https://humanism.org.uk/2019/01/17/three-state-steiner-schools-rated-inadequate-after-long-running-campaign-led-by-humanists-uk/

Read more about Humanists UK’s Information Tribunal case against the Department for Education over its advice on Steiner schools:

https://humanism.org.uk/2014/07/31/government-forced-release-briefings-expressing-serious-concerns-racism-bullying-independent-steiner-schools-losing-information-tribunal-case-bha/

Read our earlier detailed briefing on concern about state Steiner schools: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/BHA-BRIEFING-concerns-about-the-state-funding-of-Steiner-schools.pdf

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 community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

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