Academy discussion and FAQ

Steiner Academy
Steiner Academy
Will we get the green light?

As we progress with our application for Elmfield School to become a Steiner Academy, ideas and questions will arise. This is the place to share and discuss those thoughts.

The Elmfield Academy Team monitor and moderate this group to ensure the discussions are productive and informative. We will absolutely not remove negative comments unless they are unduly inflammatory – all voices must be heard in order for us to make this journey together. The core members of the team are:

  • Maarten Ekama
  • Elisabeth Faulkner
  • Martin Dathan
  • Rainer Klocke

Frequently asked questions

Questions that come up frequently in the comments below are added here.


Will we be able to maintain the Steiner curriculum/ethos as an academy?


Yes. The Academies Act and the government White Paper on teaching and schools emphasise the importance of freedom to develop a curriculum appropriate to the needs of the children and the school. As the Steiner curriculum is specifically focussed on meeting children’s needs it therefore sits comfortably within the governments requirements.


Will the children at Elmfield Steiner Academy have to do SATS at Key Stage 2?


We will be expected to offer the tests, but as a school community we will do all we can to minimise the impact they have on the children.


  1. Maarten
    6th March 2012

    What about school uniform. Will that become compulsory?

  2. Rainer
    7th March 2012

    I think this is an excellent initiative > big thanks to Mark Chitty for technically setting up this on-line discussion forum! Perhaps we should explain how this process will inform the future process in a bit more detail, in other words: how will the information be ‘used’ to guide the school community in the process of becoming an academy?

    • Martin Dathan
      12th March 2012

      The on-line forum will enable the school community to become aware of the issues involved in the Academy process.It will also enable the school to gauge what interest and concerns there are at this initial stage.
      Later on in the application process the school will need to submit evidence of demand for a Steiner Academy in this area and contacts made in this forum may be asked if they would respond to an “Evidence of Demand” questionnaire.

  3. John Franken
    14th March 2012

    Hi, before going through the application, would it not be a great idea to see upfront is there is evidence of demand? It would in my opinion help the school to also plan for the future.

    • Martin Dathan
      20th March 2012

      A good question – thank you.The Academy Group has wrestled with this one. Since our last Academy Forum in November 2010 it has become clear that there are still many questions about what Elmfield would look like with Academy status.We are hoping that questions and comments can be aired first, and then Evidence of Demand surveyed after informed debate.

  4. Patrick
    3rd April 2012

    I am confused and surprised that we are still talking about ‘evidence of demand’. I thought it was decided – Elmfield is striving to become an academy. Is this not the case? All talk of still assessing demand in my mind simply distracts us from working hard towards our goal – which surely must be submitting an excellent application as quickly as possible.

    • Elisabeth Faulkner
      4th April 2012

      Yes we are striving to become an academy and have decided to apply. However, the application can only be successful if we can show enough evidence of demand by the time we are submitting it. To gather evidence of demand is part of the application process.

  5. Sean Gilde
    5th April 2012

    I refer to the Question below:
    Q1 Will we be able to maintain the Steiner curriculum/ethos as an academy?
    And the Answer supplied:
    Yes. The Academies Act and the government White Paper on teaching and schools emphasise the importance of freedom to develop a curriculum appropriate to the needs of the children and the school. As the Steiner curriculum is specifically focussed on meeting children’s needs it therefore sits comfortably within the governments requirements.

    What strikes me most notably is that the crux of the matter will surely be, whose definition of ‘needs’ in ‘the needs of the children’, will be used when decisions have to be made whether Elmfield will be able to maintain the Steiner curriculum / ethos.

    An anthroposophical approach, understanding and implementation of ‘needs’ is in many ways radically different, if not in some cases opposed to, the definition of ‘needs’ that may have been envisaged when the Academies Act and White Paper were drafted by the Education Department.

    Is this a case of ‘you can do what ever you like, as long as its the same / similar to, what we do’?

    • Martin Dathan
      21st May 2012

      Your comment whose definition of ” needs of the children” do we go by? raises the importance of getting the statement of the aims and objectives of an Elmfield Academy very clear. If the DfE agrees to support Academy status, then it agrees to the Curriculum set out in the school’s proposals.

  6. Sean Gilde
    5th April 2012

    Re. Q&A 2.

    What are the impacts of SATS on kids?
    And how would the teaching staff at Elmfield minimise this impact realistically?

    The answer supplied to this question seems rather ‘wishy washy’.

    • Martin Dathan
      4th May 2012

      Academy status would oblige the school to provide for the sitting of Key Stage 2 Assessments for 11 year-olds. Pupils at this age are already familiar with internal testing, whether it be a weekly spelling test or a maths test set by their own teachers and is one form of assessing what the teacher has been teaching under the Steiner Curriculum. Sitting a test in itself should be no major impact.
      Of more concern is whether external testing would impact on the Steiner Curriculum. We would not want to alter our curriculum to “teach towards” the external tests and staff at Elmfield would have to find means of safeguarding the Steiner Curriculum. In addition,we would have to make very clear to parents, that SATS results need to be taken in the context of the whole curriculum at Elmfield, just as the Government league tables are taken in context at KS4 with GCSE statistics.

  7. Julian Gilde
    24th May 2012

    I support the application to become an academy but my predominant concern is for the Steiner curriculum and ensuring this is not diluted. The “cost” of academy status to the curiculum as well as the ethos of the school will need to be carefully assessed and inevitably there will be a need for compromise in certain areas. I do not see this a barrier in and of itself to the school becoming academy as long as there is absolute openeness and transparency with regard to decision making so that the curriculum and ethos are safeguarded and the school community does not become divided and fragmented.

    • Rainer
      3rd July 2012

      I think your concerns are very valid and thanks for raising them. Indeed, part of the challenge is very much to put the curriculum, values and ethos at the heart of the whole process. This does include opening to our community what we stand for – and what not- more than perhaps we do presently, so that any community support we attract is genuine and reliable. I think there are good indicators that the majority of parents understand the importance of this and their active role in this, since it is not something that can or should be considered a task for the few in the school community.

  8. Rosa van Doorn
    27th August 2012

    I don’t think demand would be an issue if only more people in the local area knew what Steiner education is about. Change people’s opinion or as I guess in our local area, educate them on what your school does.

    I always thought that I would have to move back to my home country of the Netherlands so I can send my (future) kids to a free Steiner school. I have never felt comfortable with the English system of perpetuating inequality by paying for schooling. It is possibly the worst thing you can teach a child that money buys better (or different, in your case) education.

    Every year I check Elmfield’s website to see if anything has changed about its educational status and to my surprise you are now applying to become an academy. I hope all will work out and I can send my kids to you in a few years time (and without uniforms please!).

    Get Steiner education into the spotlight, I hope to read about your academy plans in local and national newspapers, you are doing something special!

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