New trust found for failing Steiner schools

An academy trust that runs seven Hindu schools has been chosen to take over three of the country’s four Steiner state schools.

The three Steiner academies in Bristol (pictured), Exeter and Frome will all join the Avanti Schools Trust after a turbulent year that has seen all three placed in special measures after damning reports by the inspectorate.

The schools follow the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, which aims to focus on pupils’ academic, physical, emotional and spiritual needs with an emphasis on art and imagination.

A spokesperson for the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship, the umbrella body for Steiner schools, said the schools would remain Steiner under the new trust.

“The partnership offers a great opportunity for each school to carry forward our philosophy of Waldorf education, which sits at the heart of our ethos.”

Statements on the websites of all three Steiner schools say that there is a “clear direction for the future of the schools, building on Avanti’s successful approach to school improvement, whilst working to combine the Steiner-Waldorf principles”.

All seven of Avanti’s current schools are Hindu schools and provide yoga and mindfulness lessons. They are run with a focus on character formation and spiritual insight as well as education.

Avanti trust did not respond to a request for comment.

In a letter to each of the schools, regional schools commissioner for the south west Lisa Mannall said she expects to see them join Avanti in the autumn, and said she had asked Avanti to “review the all-through operating model” at the schools and consider whether this is “educationally and financially sustainable in the longer term”.

In a statement on its website, Avanti said it had been asked by the Department for Education to give parents and staff “the opportunity to discuss the trust’s proposals to develop a new culture of high educational standards within the three academies”.

Avanti currently runs five primary schools, one secondary and one all-through school. All seven are based in London and the Midlands. The trust previously mulled a merger with the Floreat Education Academies Trust, but it was announced earlier this month that Floreat would close and its schools join GLF Schools at the end of the summer.

All three of the Steiner academies were placed in special measures by Ofsted after inspections in October and November 2018.

Snap inspections of nine state and private Steiner schools at the end of last year found six were “inadequate” and three “requires improvement”. Ofsted was given power to inspect all Steiner schools after chief inspector Amanda Spielman warned in January of “deeply concerning” failures.

The only other state Steiner school, Steiner Academy Hereford, was rated ‘good’.