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  diverse range of professions and occupations including medicine, law, science, engineering, computer technology, the arts, social science, government, and teaching at all levels.

Children are assessed on their individual development: physically, emotionally, socially and mentally. This reflects Steiner’s principle of head, heart and hand. The whole child is important, not just his or her cognitive skills. Teachers may look at the child’s learning from Main Lesson books, recall, group activities, songs, verses and games, social interaction, reactions, concentration and play. Nurturing character building is also key.

Our students’ progress is continually being monitored by their Class Teachers. Because they spend so much time with the pupils they are able to do this in a way that does not add any unnecessary pressure. 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 because they have developed the necessary tools and most importantly the passion for learning new things.

The Main Lesson is a daily, two hour teaching block taken by the class teacher, from 9-11am. It covers core subject teaching in literacy, numeracy, science, history and geography. The main lesson is taught in thematic blocks, usually of two to five weeks. This allows a sustained, multidisciplinary exploration of a topic using a variety of approaches and activities. Pupils approach the subject using intellectual, creative, physical and social skills, and the material they explore touches upon a range of traditional subject areas.

Steiner Schools start formal reading and writing between the sixth and seventh birthday, normal in many European countries, but surprising to UK parents. We believe that there are many other things children need to learn before they begin to read and write, like social and emotional skills, kinetic skills, skills to do with the world around them. With time to learn these skills first formal learning is easier. Pupils start formal learning, such as the alphabet and numbers when we believe children are ready and can approach this challenge with ease and with great enthusiasm.
There is much evidence that in general, healthy children who learn to read later than their peers are not disadvantaged by this, but rather are able quickly to catch up with, and can overtake, children who have learned to read early.

Pupils start formal learning, i.e. writing, reading and numeracy in Class One at the age of six. This is the norm in many European countries and an approach supported by a significant body of research. Cognitive skills can be introduced with relative ease if children have first had the opportunity to develop speech, co-ordination and their relationship to themselves, others and the world around them during the pre-school years and in Kindergarten.

The Early Childhood teacher in a Steiner Waldorf School works with the young child firstly by creating a warm, beautiful and loving environment, which is protective and secure and where things happen in a predictable, regular manner. Here she responds to the developing child in three basic ways.

Firstly, the teacher engages in domestic, practical and artistic actvities that the children can readily imitate (for example baking, painting, gardening and handicrafts such as sewing or weaving), adapting the work to the changing seasons and festivals of the year.

Secondly, the teacher nurtures the children’s power of imgination particular to the age. She does so by telling carefully selected stories and by encouraging child-led play. This child- led role play or fantasy play, in which children act out scenarios of their own creation, helps them to experience many aspects of life more deeply. When toys are used, they are used of natural materials and are often known by child experts as ‘open ended’ or ‘loose parts’. Pine cones, wood, cottons, silks, shells and other objects from nature that the children have collected are used in play and to beautify the room.

Thirdly, she facilitates learning and growth of essential social skills, such as relating to one another, caring for one another, taking turns, including everyone in their games and how to participate in a group. 

Sequencing, sensory integration, eye- hand coordination tracking, appreciating the beauty of language and other basic skills necessary for the foundation of academic excellence are fostered in the kindergarten. In this truly natural, loving and creative environment the children are given a range of activities and the structure that help them prepare for the next phases in their school life. 

While Rudolf Steiner was a Christian, he was clear that Steiner schools should not act to promulgate any religion.  Steiner education draws upon the teachings of many religions during the educational process.  While we enthusiastically celebrate the spiritual aspects of the major traditional festivals, these often have their roots far deeper in history than Christianity, for example – Seasonal festivals are celebrated in the school, including Michaelmas, Martinmas, Advent, Easter, Whitsun and St John’s, which are Christian in origin, and resonate with the seasonal rhythms of the year. However, their context is that of exploring and appreciating the cycles of the seasons as an approach to developing a search for a meaningful spiritual perspective, and is not denominational or sectarian.

A founding principle of Lancaster Steiner School is that no family is turned away from Steiner education based on their ability to pay.  We are a non-profit making organization, but rely on parental contribution commitments for the majority of our income.  We aim to make that commitment as affordable as possible. See also our Financial Information page.

Rudolf Steiner (1869-1925) was a philosopher and social reformer and founder of Steiner-Waldorf education. This educational movement was first set up for the children of workers at the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart, Germany in 1919, as the city’s first co-educational school and it soon became its largest with over a thousand pupils before the end of Steiner’s lifetime. He wanted the children to be taught using principles he had researched on child development, which focused on the whole child: head, heart and hands.