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Last Updated: Monday, 12 September 2005, 08:10 GMT 09:10 UK
State funds call for new school
Children in a classroom
Some parents want public money diverted to fund private schools
Calls for public money to be used to fund independent schools have been made as the second Steiner school in Wales opens.

The school in Cardiff will offer a curriculum based on a philosophy to develop "the whole child".

At 200 per child per term, some parents are calling on taxpayers' money to be used to help pay for the fees.

But parent teacher groups say giving money to independent schools would damage state education provision.

The Steiner school in the Splott area of Cardiff will offer a curriculum which claims to develop the child's spiritual, physical and moral well-being as well as academic progress.

The Steiner Waldorf Foundation website says the philosophy, developed by Rudolph Steiner in the early 1900s, places "a strong emphasis on social abilities and the development of pre-numeracy and literacy skills".

It would be an extremely good idea if politicians had the courage to give parents the money the state invests in those parents children
Chris Woodhead

Formal learning begins later than under traditional education and learning is done in "a very creative and artistic environment".

Some senior education professionals believe parents should be given the choice of whether to educate their children under a traditional system or using alternative methods.

One of them is former chief inspector of schools in England, Chris Woodhead.

He told BBC Radio Wales programme Eye on Wales that the government should be more flexible with their approaches to school funding.

"It would be an extremely good idea if politicians had the courage to give parents the money the state invests in those parents children," he said.

If you are going to choose that kind of education for your children, it's something parents make a conscious decision to pay for, extra to their taxes
Margaret Morrissey

"And allow parents to use the money to educate their child in Steiner, Montessori or any other sort of independent school."

But there are concerns that the state education pot could be swallowed up by such a scheme.

Margaret Morrissey of the Parent Teacher Association said: "If you are going to choose that kind of education for your children, it's something parents make a conscious decision to pay for, extra to their taxes.

"It would be very difficult once you start splitting the pot of money. And then you get the dilemma that you don't have enough money to run a successful state education system."

Some European countries already state fund Steiner and other alternative education systems and the Department for Schools and Skills in England has commissioned a report to investigate whether to fund them.

In Wales, the assembly government said that if independent schools choose to adopt the new foundation phase curriculum for three to five year olds, state money could be made available to them.

The assembly government's foundation phase curriculum offers structured learning for children aged three to seven and is being tested in 41 nurseries, playgroups and schools.

The Cardiff Steiner School becomes the second in Wales. The other is the Nant-y-Cwm School near Clunderwen in Pembrokeshire.

Eye On Wales, BBC Radio Wales Monday 12 September 18:00, repeated Sunday 18 September, 06:30




SEE ALSO:
Steiner schools 'could help all'
05 Jul 05 |  Education
School campaign goes to festival
09 May 03 |  South West Wales


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