EADT 13.7.79

New schooling in an old school

A small village school on quiet heathland near Leiston is to become the first in East Anglia to use teaching methods based on the work of Austrian scientist and philosopher, Dr Rudolf Steiner.

A1dringham Green will be the region's first Steiner school. It was bought at an auction two years ago by Swiss craft teacher and musician Hansjurg Lange and his wife, Sally.

Its four-year dormancy since closing in 1975 is due to end in September when the first youngsters start at the independent community school which aims to be "a small social organism within society as a whole."


" It would have meant the loss of another community school in our area if we had not dared to secure it for a possible reopening," said Mr Lange.

"Strengthening our own beliefs by a nation-wide concern about the closure of these small units and the lack of personal atmosphere in most large schools set up instead, we took the risk."

The school, which will have a teachers' co-operative and no head-master, is being provided for any child, but its catchment area for practical reasons would probably be a maximum of about 15 miles, said Mr. Lange.

And, he stressed, it was to be a non-profit making concern. "The minute personal or institutional gain is made you cannot call it a community school."

"No child should be turned away for financial reasons only. This is one of our very basic principles. Without it we would be straight back to a conventional public school. The child is accepted on its own merits and independent of its background.

"By no means is it going to be an elite school, nor is it going to be a school for children in need of special care."

The basic requirement for parents wanting their child to attend the school would have to be a heartfelt appreciation of the Steiner method of education.

The welfare of any Steiner school was largely in the hands of its teachers as a group of co-workers.


"To support them in the running of other than educational affairs, parents are welcomed and encouraged to take an active part in school life. Thus there are opportunities for those who wish to and can contribute in a variety of ways other than by cash only." Mr. Lange said.

"Whether it is money given towards their child's education or services given, it is all taken into account."

The education method to be used is based on Steiner's deep insight into the stages of development of the human being, and class teachers will follow a curriculum which allows him or her to support the unfolding of pupils' personalities.

Kindergartens for four to six year olds aim to prepare children for entry into the Steiner school through creative play, singing, moving, painting, modelling, story-telling and handwork. At Aldringham the kindergarten will be started by Mrs. Lange.

The first class of eight and nine-year-olds will be run by Mrs. Patricia Waite and, if there is the demand, the school could also accept six and seven-year-olds. It is hoped the children would carry on through the school at least until they were 14.

A fully-fledged Steiner school, said Mr. Lange, took pupils through to their 18th year. Integration into other types of school if a pupil was not able to carry on with Steiner education was no problem - all that was needed was an adaption period.

If parents wanted Steiner education for their children there would be no difficulties with the authorities, he said.


There was not to be an authoritarian approach to discipline at the school, nor were the children going to be allowed to do what they liked.

"They are guided in such a way that, out of respect for their mates and the people here, a natural discipline arises," said Mr. Lange.

Before the school opens, work will have to be carried out on the building - toilets have to be provided and the roof has to be repaired.

This will cost a minimum of £3,000 if voluntary labour can be found, and possibly up to £5,000 or £6,000 if contractors are brought in.

On top of this equipment has to be purchased and "survival" salaries for teachers have to be guaranted.

A council consisting of parents interested in the school and friends and teachers has been formed and is hoping to raise funds: At a later stage, a school association will be formed.

Mr. and Mrs. Lange and their friends and supporters have put in much work in the past two years - and more must follow before the school opens. But, said Mr. Lange, "We will start in September - there is absolutely no question about that."