Our project began in December 2011, when a group of parents, teachers and professionals met to talk about the possibility of a free school bid to create a new Steiner Academy in Bristol. We were all committed to Steiner education, but wanted a school that would be accessible to all. The group quickly settled into a core team with backgrounds including teaching, project management, charity management and youth work.
Throughout 2012 we met regularly and began to market our project. We ran consultation events across the city, focussing on the inner-city areas characterised by an urgent shortfall of school places from Bedminster to Totterdown, Easton to St Werburghs. We found huge support for our project and over 1000 families signed up to say that Steiner Academy Bristol would be the first choice of school for their children.
We also had strong support from Bristol City Council, who understood our vision and welcomed greater educational diversity and choice in the city.
In January 2013 we submitted our application to the Department for Education with 150 pages of detailed information about our plans. This was followed by a long formal interview in London and finally the fantastic news that our application had been accepted.
So our school is on course to open in September 2014. We will be starting small, with three classes, but by 2022 the school will reach capacity with over 600 pupils.
Meanwhile, Steiner Academy Frome opened in September 2012, and Steiner Academy Exeter opened in September 2013. Alongside these schools, Steiner Academy Hereford is continuing to provide an excellent education, recently receiving a very positive Ofsted report.
Steiner Academy Hereford - (c) 2013
We are now working towards the next step: a multi-academy trust that brings together the Steiner Academies into a single organisation, to help to develop more consistent and effective teaching practices; better financial stability; better training and support for staff; and, most excitingly, a route to opening new Steiner Academies elsewhere around the country.
Alongside that work we are in conversation with a number of universities and higher education institutions to provide new training courses for teachers that take in the history and educational practices of Steiner education alongside mainstream teaching practice and hands-on classroom experience. We would like to see new Steiner teachers achieving QTS status via a BEd degree with the option of Steiner specialisation.
It is all part of the ongoing professionalisation of Steiner education in the UK, and we are thrilled to be involved!