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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 January 2007, 16:33 GMT
Steiner school's academy bid
model of the planned academy
The new school would be built alongside the current building
A state-funded Steiner school could open in September under the government's city academy programme.

A feasibility study on bringing the independent school in Herefordshire into the maintained sector will be put before ministers in the coming weeks.

The academy would not have to follow the national curriculum, but would introduce national tests in key areas.

Steiner schools give priority to educating the "whole child", with a strong emphasis on creativity.

The academy bid would see a new school building constructed alongside the existing building.

The sponsor for the new academy is the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship.

The Department for Education and Skills said, in line with its commitment to offer greater degrees of parental choice, it was working with the Steiner group to explore "different, but effective, educational principles".

"Academies must provide a broad and balanced curriculum - this is one of the conditions of their funding agreement - and can specialise in one or more subjects," a DfES spokeswoman said.

"They must teach the national curriculum core subjects like all others and carry out Key Stage 3 assessment tests in English, maths and science.

Council objections

However, the county council is objecting to the plans on a "highways" issue.

In a statement, the council said: "Herefordshire Council was approached by the Waldorf Steiner School and the Department for Education and Skills to ask for the Council's views about the Steiner School becoming part of the maintained sector within Herefordshire.

"At that time, because of falling rolls within the county, the council expressed opposition. However, given the duty of local authorities to maximise potential preference and choice in the 2006 Education and Inspections Act, the local authority has withdrawn its objections on school provision grounds.

"However, as part of the planning process, there is a recommendation for refusal of planning permission on highways grounds."

A spokeswoman for the school's academy bid said she was confident the objection could be resolved.

What are Steiner schools?

Steiner schools are based on the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, who founded his first school in Germany in 1919. There are now nearly 900 around the world.

While in some countries they are publicly funded, the 23 in the UK are independent.

Steiner school event
Steiner schools stress the importance of creativity

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 Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship says its education "respects the essential nature of childhood".

"In pre-school and primary school the education provides a solid foundation of faculties and experiences which the secondary level can build on," the fellowship says.

"At this stage qualities such as emotional maturity, good judgement, creativity and initiative with a strong moral sense of responsibility are cultivated."

Steiner schools 'could help all'
05 Jul 05 |  Education
Why the fuss over city academies?
17 Mar 05 |  Education
Academies: Who are the sponsors?
13 Feb 06 |  Education

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