Frequently asked questions
Below is a selection of answers to questions that have been asked by parents. If you have a question that is not answered here then please do contact us.
The following questions relate to Steiner Education, please click the questions to access the answers.
Subjects are introduced and taught in ways that correspond to the age and developmental needs of the child and young person. The strong academic, practical and artistic curriculum is based on building and fostering the child’s natural abilities.
Pupils learn traditional academic subjects through the distinctive Waldorf teaching methods that serve their intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual development. Engaging the hands and the heart as well as the mind cultivates a real inner enthusiasm for learning.
The first seven years of a child’s life sees huge physical growth and development from a tiny infant, not able to do anything without help, to a child who can stand upright, run, climb, make things, talk, express wishes and play imaginatively, understand stories and simple instructions. This is a time to nurture the growing body of the child in a warm and supportive atmosphere, in which learning is by imitation and by doing.
The second seven years sees the child ready to take on a new style of learning, having built the foundations of the physical body. Children are now ready to learn through love and respect and to engage through their feelings. We find that when children’s feelings of wonder and enthusiasm are awakened through imagination and beauty, they will relate both to the subject and to the teacher who teaches it, and this learning becomes strong and deeply rooted. The class teacher gets to know each child in depth and so can teach the curriculum in the best way for that child and that class.
The third period of seven years, though not completed at school, is marked by the exploration of concepts and ideals, and the journey towards clear thinking. Here the curriculum aims to encourage the young person to observe the world, to question how things work, to look at ethics and philosophy, to try and perceive truth and to learn about themselves and their personal gifts in a safe and supportive environment. The young person should face questions such as: “Who am I, what have I to offer the world?”
|Pupil age||Year Group||
Steiner school equivalent
|Pre-statutory 3 – 4 years||Nursery||Nursery|
|4 – 5 years||Reception||Kindergarten|
|5 – 6 years||Year 1||Kindergarten|
|6 – 7 years||Year 2||Class 1|
|7 – 8 years||Year 3||Class 2|
|8 – 9 years||Year 4||Class 3|
|9 – 10 years||Year 5||Class 4|
|10 – 11 years||Year 6||Class 5|
|11 – 12 years||Year 7||Class 6|
|12 – 13 years||Year 8||Class 7|
|13 – 14 years||Year 9||Class 8|
|14 – 15 years||Year 10||Class 9|
|15 – 16 years||Year 11||Class 10|
|16 – 17 years||Post 16||Class 11|
Pupils approach the subject using intellectual, creative, physical and social skills, and the material they explore touches upon a range of traditional subject areas. The fact that the Class Teacher teaches the majority of the main lesson subjects in the Lower School has the added advantage of allowing interconnections between subjects to be drawn, which give the pupils a feeling for the unity of knowledge. In the Upper School (classes 9 to 11) the Main Lesson is taught by specialist subject teachers.
The teacher brings each part of the curriculum at the right stage in the children’s development to meet and satisfy their needs. During the main lesson the pupils develop numeracy, literacy, social skills, scientific knowledge, humanities, artistic skills and the confidence to stand up in front of the class or school and present their work. Subject teachers compliment the work of the class teacher by teaching the class German, French, Eurythmy, Games, Handwork, Crafts and music.
International research now shows that enjoying learning depends on keeping a pupil’s curiosity alive. This is a key principle in our approach and means that when our pupils come to learning that requires abstract or academic skills, they see this as just another challenge – not one in which they are going to fail, but one in which they are going to succeed.
Over the last ten years (since 2007) an average of 82% of our Class 11 final year students left Elmfield with 5 or more A*-C grade GCSEs, including English and Maths. After completing the Upper School all pupils go on to local colleges and then University if they so wish.
Elmfield and other Steiner Schools have found that Waldorf pupils are generally much appreciated for their warmth, interest, social skills and general abilities. They go on to work in a diversity of professions and occupations including medicine, law, science, engineering, computer technology, the arts, social science, government, and teaching at all levels.
There are countless people for whom Steiner education has played a key role in enabling them to live successful and fulfilled lives. Websites, brochures and DVD’s can go some way towards explaining how the education works, but the most telling testimony is that of ex-pupils themselves, of their parents who made this choice and of the people who work with Steiner educated scholars once they have taken their place in the world. To read about a few ex-Waldorf pupils on the Steiner Waldorf School Fellowship website click here.
Religion lessons at Elmfield explore the sacred and moral aspects of life through stories and biographies, as well as exploring aspects of religions of the world and of our Christian heritage. Lessons and assemblies are non-denominational.
We educate all children, regardless of their cultural or religious backgrounds and we aim to foster a recognition and understanding of all the world cultures and religions. Steiner schools are not part of any church. They espouse no particular religious doctrine but are based on a belief that there is a spiritual dimension to the human being and to all of life. Parents from a broad spectrum of religious, spiritual and philosophical backgrounds send their children to Steiner schools.
In the upper school, a core aim in teaching the main lesson is the attempt to connect students to the most important ideals of all: their own. Cultivating a sense of idealism can be approached in a variety of ways but the religion lesson has a key role to play in furthering this aim. Lessons will typically be based on the study of inspiring biographies of both historical and contemporary figures. Nelson Mandela and apartheid, Jaques Luuyseran and the Second World War, Charles Darwin and evolution, Henry Ford and the industrial age, Mohamed Bouazizi and the Arab Spring are all examples of where a biographical approach to issues of social, ethical and moral import can inspire class discussion and self reflection along with an appetite for context and meaning./su_spoiler]
Eurythmy is an artistic form of movement where different movements and gestures correspond to different sounds or notes. The rhythms and exercises develop concentration, physical co-ordination and social and spatial awareness. Eurythmy lessons are given throughout the school, from kindergarten to upper school.
I’ve always been impressed by the Elmfield students
- Their maturity – even though they are a year older they are still on average more mature than our year 13s
- Their genuine interest in the subject
- Their ability to work on their own initiative – they don’t mind being challenged by the work
- Their confidence
- Their concern for and interest in others
- Social skills” Doug Slessor, Head of Physics
Elmfield students display a maturity which is massively useful, especially as their emotional core is developed. I have noticed they have excellent initiative, are conscientious and artistically wide based. Elmfield students are always willing to contribute; indeed they have a strong sense of the team-work ethic. In academic terms, their performance in theatrical and practical work exceeds the general in-take, probably by a full grade.” Pam Stock, Director of Theatre Studies
In the main I’ve found that the young people that I’ve taught from Elmfield are more questioning about the nature of the society they live in and are much more capable of independent thought than most students who’ve been through the conventional system, which of course makes them excellent sociology students.” Emma Stevens, Sociology.
The full Anti Bullying Policy and Procedure, and how it works in different areas of the school, can be found by visiting our Policies Page.
For additional support to resolve a problem, the School’s Designated Person can be contacted via the office. The School’s Designated Person (DP) will facilitate a meeting with the member of staff involved with the aim to listen to all parties and facilitate a mediation process to resolve the problem.
Anthroposophy is not taught to the students.
Even though Steiner’s ideas are based on a profound respect for the equality, individuality and shared humanity of all people, regardless of race or ethnic origin, his works do contain a number of statements on race that are inappropriate in a modern context. Steiner education thrives on every continent, in every culture and within a wide range of ethnic contexts. For example, during the period of the apartheid regime in South Africa, the only school catering for mixed races was a Steiner Waldorf school & today there are schools following Steiner philosophy of education in diverse cultures & communities, including: Israel, Egypt, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Taiwan, Japan, Brazil or Hawaii, over 60 countries in all.
More information about anti-racism is available on our Policies Page.
Elmfield fully subscribes to the statement of the European Council on Waldorf Schools Against Discrimination.