a warning to gnomes in Frome

The application for state-funding of Frome Steiner school has gone through. Gnomes need be cautious and should preferably, if circumstances permit, stay far away from the Frome area. As Thetis points out, ‘The state-funded Steiner teachers will be out hunting from today.’ Frome Steiner school announces that:

“Our dream is a reality – Free Steiner education for all.”
We have been APPROVED and will be opening a State funded Steiner school in Frome in September 2012.

The gnomes didn’t share this dream; in fact, they’re now experiencing some serious distress about the future. On this blog, the most recent conversation on Steiner schools has occured in the comment thread to this post.

66 thoughts on “a warning to gnomes in Frome


    News update:

    The gnomes of Frome are already packing their bags, getting ready to migrate to other areas of the UK. There may be an increase in the gnome population in neighbouring districts and counties.

    Reports from Sweden say that with publicly funded waldorf education, the gnome population has dwindled and is so tiny nowadays that hardly anybody believes in gnomes anymore, because so few have seen one in real life.

    The fairies are usually not hit so severely by such political decisions, since they are more elusive. They always get away. Once the waldorf teachers try to capture them, they evaporate. Which means they’re always safe, and waldorf teachers are always on the edge: they still believe they will be able to catch a fairy one day. They won’t.

  2. Let’s analyze Frome’s steiner education presentation (thanks for link Thetis):

    ‘Steiner education is a humanistic approach to pedagogy based upon the educational philosophy of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner.

    Learning is interdisciplinary, integrating practical, artistic, and conceptual elements. The approach emphasizes the role of the imagination in learning, developing thinking that includes a creative as well as an analytic component.

    The educational philosophy’s overarching goals are to provide young people the basis on which to develop into free, morally responsible and integrated individuals, and to help every child fulfil his or her unique destiny.’

    NO mention at all of anthroposophy. Instead they call it ‘humanistic’. Instead of calling Steiner a spiritual leader, they call him a philosopher. They should at least have the guts to describe him better. He wasn’t ‘just’ a philosopher — if he was a philosopher at all. When he got into pedagogy, he had left his career in philosophy behind over two decades earlier. The rest was his spiritual philosophy. Which, sort of, is another kind of game. And this should be stated explicitly.

    Another question mark: what is, in anthroposophy, a ‘free, morally responsible and integrated individual’? This must — actually — be explained anthroposophically. As must their statement that the child ‘fulfil[s] his or her unique destiny.’

  3. it is terribly dishonest to present Steiner ed in the way that Frome has on its site.

    I was once a parent at a Steiner initiative – a new and hopeful school. I know that many of the parents – most of the parents – won’t understand the nature of anthroposophy. They’ll make excuses for the odd things that happen, they’ll find the answers they’re given about their children are bizarre – but if they’re young, and don’t know what other schools are like, they may take years to realise there’s something wrong.

    I hope the Frome Steiner Academy decides to be honest from now on: honest with the people of Frome, with prospective parents, and with themselves. Do the children involved not deserve this? Or is this just a game for adults to play at their expense?

  4. Agreed — definitely. That presentation just won’t do. If that is the kind of presentation they’ve given to authorities during the course of the process towards getting funding, then I’d say it’s dishonest, it’s deceptive.

    This is why waldorf/steiner schools keep leaving families disappointed — presentations such as these are not enough to even get a glimpse of what it’s about. Feeling that you’ve not been told the truth is a very powerful thing — it makes people angry. And if steiner schools don’t want people to leave angry — they need to be upfront about themselves from the start.

  5. From Facebook:

    ‘The wait is over and we have just heard from the Department for Education………


    This is fantastic news and amazingly exciting for the Frome community and surrounds. There is lots to do and help will be required in all directions but at the moment I am in an information absorbing phase. I meet with the DfE rep assigned to us next week and we go from there.

    I will keep you all updated as regularly as possible and if any of you can think of someone to be an inspirational Principal then please let me know as that’s my main objective at the moment. Please get them to send an application in confidence to principal@fromesteineracademy.co.uk


    Guy Marson’

  6. Roger comments (once again I’m quoting, due to the News section changing daily):

    “”Our dream is a reality – Free Steiner education for all.

    “We have been APPROVED and will be opening a State funded Steiner school in Frome [UK] in September 2012.

    “This website will provide you with information about the progress of opening our school and information about the education it will offer. Please check back regularly for updates, subscribe to our blog or join our mailing list. You can also join our Facebook group via the link at the top of this page.

    “Help manifest our dream by getting involved.” [10-10-2011 http://fromesteineracademy.co.uk/%5D

    Governments in some countries provide financial support for Steiner education. The UK has now begun down this benighted path, leading to the acceptance of Steiner Waldorf schools as government-funded “free” schools (known in the USA as charter schools). Conservative governments in particular like the idea of competition in the sphere of education, reducing the role of mainstream public schooling while creating protected niches for alternative types of schools. Unfortunately, in making their decisions, official bodies often fail to comprehend the occult nature of Steiner education. [See “Occultism” and “Spiritual Agenda”.] Channeling taxpayer financing to such schools would seem to be an obvious error, yet from time to time it happens. The Steiner movement is well practiced in concealing its real nature and aims. [See, e.g., “Secrets” and “PR”. For background on the free school process in the UK, see “Coming Undone”.]

    A tangential note: It is interesting that, in its announcement, the Frome Steiner Academy refers to manifestation. Incarnation or manifestation is indeed a central objective of Steiner education, far more than conveying knowledge to students. Steiner schools exist to promote Rudolf Steiner’s occult vision, which includes the incarnation of invisible bodies. Waldorf teachers direct much of their energy toward helping kids receive their etheric, astral, and ego bodies. [See, e.g., “Incarnation”.] Providing a sound education is a much lower priority, since the use of the brain is so risky. As Steiner said, “When we think, we die continually.” [See “Thinking”.] This may be a defensible tenet for a religious system, but it is surely an inappropriate foundation for a system of education.

    Let’s hope that, for the sake of Frome’s children, the British government comes to its senses and reverses its decision.”

    Links can always be accessed on his site, news here: https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/news-2

  7. I thought that [the principal] was Guy Marson, but that was just guessing really…!

    Exciting for the Frome community. The gnomes do NOT agree!!

  8. Or they take some clueless non-anthro. Easier for the college of teachers and the board of this or that to push a clueless person around. They’re not really for having principals, these schools.

  9. Useful blog by David Wolfe ‘for anyone concerned about academies or free schools, and the law’:



    ‘Academies are (in law) ‘independent schools’. But instead of parents having contracts (and paying) academies operate under a contract with the Secretary of State for Education who pays the costs. The rules for running an academy are in the contract, often called a Funding Agreement. The contracts vary from one academy to the next. So the legal rights of parents and pupils can vary too. On top of that, unlike maintained schools, in academies parents and pupils have very few direct legal rights: it is harder for them to make sure that an Academy or free school sticks to the rules (as they would be able to do at a maintained school).

  10. Oh, lots of people are pretty skilled at being clueless. They can fanatically pursue their cluelessness to the extreme if it helps them in some way or another.

  11. ‘The contracts vary from one academy to the next.’

    That seems just stupid. And like a highly inefficient way of running things.

  12. I love the ‘does anyone know anyone who’d make a good principal’ bit, lovely to see a job description or qualification requirements that would need to be fulfilled. He’s treating it like some kind of joke.

  13. Fantastic. I didn’t even see that part (which explains one of my confused comments above). I just assumed it was the guy who wrote the stuff who was the principal.

  14. It’s the rees-mogg thing? I’m not all that updated on that situation. I have read about it several times in the past, but my mind is like teflon with the rees-mogg stuff.

    (Everything with kat in it is abomination, says mr D. Catastrophical, too.)

  15. Rees-Mogg thing: here is Rees Mogg: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1198992/WILLIAM-REES-MOGG-How-children-A-education.html

    There is Michael Gove, the Flower-pot man.

    Emma Craigie, Rees-Moggs’ daughter, was originally at Bruton, but was filmed gazing through the wire netting at a deserted hospital in Frome. I suppose they thought it was better to pretend to give the money to some other people, even though it is obviously the same initiative: http://www.meadowsteiner.somerset.sch.uk/free-school.php

    So yes, It is the Rees-Mogg thing.

  16. And Rees-Mogg is writing in the newspaper? Or is he a politician too?

    You see — all the talk about this, and I can barely remember a thing. I don’t even think it’s the first time I’ve asked. It just doesn’t stick in my brain. And I guess, in any case, it’s good for other readers to know. (Even if they will actually remember it after hearing about it once.)

  17. William Rees-Mogg was the editor of The Times at one point. He’s a Lord, so not in the Lower House. At one point he was known as Mystic Mogg, due to the inaccuracy of his predictions. Rather like Steiner.

    He’s a journalist. And Gove (who was also a journalist) writes very fondly of him.

    Rees-Mogg is also a member of the Scientific and Medical Network. Aha.. but he’s a Catholic. Not an anthroposophist. Unless he’s even more occult and cunning than I am.

  18. and hope for an honest answer?

    *rolling away from cumputer laughing; hoping I’ll land in bed*

    Obviously, she’s doing some steiner stuff. I saw the other steiner school didn’t get funding. That’s strange — why one, why not the other? They’re equal, aren’t they? If gets, it doesn’t make sense the other one doesn’t. I guess all the other 25 will tell mr Gove this in the next round of applications…

  19. Oh, she’s done lots of steiner stuff. Looking at UKAnthroposophy. It’s so horrible I’ve read all that stuff, and still can’t remember anything about her. She’s the chocolate with hitler- person as well. I should be able to remember *that*, if nothing else.

    There are just too many people to keep track of. This article is full of people. I keep confusing them.

    UkA wrote earlier this year:

    ‘Of the known submitted applications, news to me was that the Frome Steiner School registered as a company on 19th April using the name Frome Steiner Academy, a possibly very significant choice of name. Given that the Frome application is supported by the Meadow Steiner School and so presumably been guided by Emma Craigie it’ll be interesting to see what becomes of Frome’s application.’

    If she’s a trustee and somewhere I read ‘steiner school adviser’ she ought to know enough about anthroposophy and presumably like it.

    I still don’t get if she’s some kind of personal friend of Gove’s though. Yes, I saw they were on the same photo — but there might be a completely reasonable explanation for that, he visited her steiner school, after all. For whatever reason.

  20. I think it’s that Gove’s a friend of her father. Craigie’s sister stood as a Tory MP (she didn’t win the seat) Her brother Jacob also stood, also as a Tory – he won.

    Gove announced the Free Schools policy at that time – the visit to Steiner was part of a promise of parent choice (this was before the last election). A lot has happened since. I doubt he thought much of it at the time, it all looked so nice. I bet that’s changed. But he believes his friends are trustworthy, and that critics are exaggerating. And every school must be judged in isolation.

    I don’t know – of course – but Frome doesn’t have a highly diverse population. Leeds on the other hand, like most large cities in the UK, is much more multi-cultural. A higher risk for the DfE if things turned sour.

    Frome also has a larger customer-base (alternative, hippy) and Leeds may not have convinced in the same way.

  21. And I guess that, too, has been dealt with and been forgotten by me.

    It’s one thing to write about waldorf in a general way, another to get the people and their connections sorted out. Some of these people are probably fairly well-known in the uk and it would be less confusing if I had known their names from other contexts as well.

    What I’ve been thinking about is if Gove financed this school because he had personal ties to it. Someone mentioned nepotism on twitter (maybe @reverasmus?) and that suggests something one might need to highlight if so.

    (Ok. Now. Got to sleep and stop writing comments from bed…)

  22. Ah, comment in between.

    Well, that’s a link between them but it’s not incredibly strong. Not so strong one must assume something inappropriate, because there simply can’t be any good explanation.

    It’s quite odd, from my swedish viewpoint, that the government and the ed minister make the choice — and not like the national school agency/administration/whatever it’s called. It’s one of the differences compared to sweden. Though when waldorfs were alone in getting funding — before the free school refom — I believe the decision was made by the government. But that was also a very different situation.

  23. Maybe it’s because the name Rees-Mogg makes me laugh, I can’t remember anything serious. There were some other funny names in the same ‘circles’. They sounded like names in a work of fiction.

    Mystic Mogg is funny too. Sounds like a clairvoyant amphibian, a water animal of some kind. Green I think.

  24. I don’t think it’s that inappropriate – they’re not ‘intimates’. But I think it has a lot to do with Frome’s success and that it’s a favour – Gove thinks, why not? They fulfil the criteria I have decided (this week). They’ve assured me the allegations of racism are unfounded. They are trustworthy.

  25. Gove wants free schools to work, it’s his baby, and he’s responsible for the applications. His committment to the scheme was evident when the offer of media support arose, he will ensure that more and more free schools appear, to the detriment of education generally and the local schools within that area, because he wants them to. I truly believe that that’s all there is to it. Sure, a bit of political back scratching to get on the right side of someone in the lords seems to have taken place but the crux is that it’s just another free school. Free to take our money and do what the hell it likes with it.

  26. I agree that those are Gove’s general motives but I don’t think it’s irrelevant who backed this bid – Alicia may remember:

    I don’t however think Gove has anything invested in Steiner ed, it isn’t his ideal by any means. In fact, apart from parent choice (and a need to bump up the Free School numbers) it’s an odd decision.

    Both Alicia and you raise points that should be of great concern to English taxpayers – Michael Gove’s personal involvement in the Free School process, and the ‘inefficiency’ of contracts varying from one Academy to the next. Dog help the families on the receiving end of this experiment.

  27. In general, free schools are a good idea in my opinion. The huge problem would be how this is carried through. Another problem is that some schools are not honest about what are and what they do.

    It seems likely that, as Thetis says, Gove is not involved particularly in the waldorf world. There may have been some (possibly subtle) influences on the social level.

    But looking at that list, it seems he’s let through islamic and christian schools. If you do that, you can’t exclude anthros based upon their beliefs. Honesty, you could demand that. You can also demand that academic subjects are taught based on real world knowledge rather than anthro beliefs. But anthroposophy itself cannot be an obstacle.

    I find these religious schools problematic for one additional reason — they isolate children with people of the same beliefs (as their parents). With the prejudices this is going to create, it becomes complicated to make a case that the consequences of waldorf are worse — despite its founder’s doctrines.

  28. I like that description – ‘the social level’..

    That’s the problem with allowing religious schools, although Gove didn’t approve a creationist school – (it went as far as interview, which was alarming). He hasn’t realised that Steiner schools teach a form of Intelligent Design.

    Anthroposophy is a problem even as a declared religion if anthroposophists are not prepared to be honest about Steiner’s race doctrines and admit he was wrong – in the sense that he was not therefore clairvoyant, infallible and so on. As discussed many times here and elsewhere.

    Financial Times education correspondent Christopher Cook yesterday claimed that the Frome Academy ‘will have its tyres kicked very hard.’ He also said Steiner has some ‘ferocious critics’, which is a little like saying Scientology has some ‘ferocious critics’, or homeopathy. And I thought we were urbane.

    He means it will be under scrutiny. I’d be surprised – they’ll want exclusions from everything.

  29. ‘Anthroposophy is a problem even as a declared religion if anthroposophists are not prepared to be honest about Steiner’s race doctrines and admit he was wrong’

    Then again — will society force those muslims and christians to denounce the brutality of the bible and the koran before they’re allowed to start *their* free schools?

    There’s a whole lot of shit in the religious literature that these people better admit was wrong — but they won’t. Because they don’t think it is. They believe in the truth of the bible and the koran — maybe even more fanatically than anthroposophists believe in the truth of Steiner’s revelations. And wait until there are even more extreme cults running their free schools.

    Some of that muslim/christian crap probably seeps into the schools to a greater extent than Steiner’s race doctrines do.

    I’m playing the devil’s advocate now, but it truly is going to be a damn big problem to get rid of anthroposophical schools when religious schools are thriving in every corner thanks to public money.


    One might wonder why Frome went in with the application and not that other nearby school, the Meadow school or whatever it was called. But I think the movement will be busy starting new schools now — I think one reason is they think that with the free school system they’ll attract lots of people. (They won’t so they will drain their energy for nothing — Frome will take families from Meadow and there won’t be enough interest to fill both schools… they may both get into financial trouble despite –or because of! — the government’s financial blessing of Frome.) Another is that ‘new’ schools don’t have disappointed and angry parents who will be complaining.

  30. “One might wonder why Frome went in with the application and not that other nearby school, the Meadow school or whatever it was called.”

    I think the Meadow school put in an unsuccessful application in the previous round. Frome is just 10 miles up the road and has almost 10x the population of Bruton, where the Meadow school is based. So, yes, it’s a pretty good bet that local families will switch to the new school in Frome and that the Meadow school will close.

  31. Heh – that’s possible. The Meadow school for sure won’t be financially viable, but then another Steiner school, closer to home, has survived only thanks to a large anonymous donation.

  32. ha! But it’s different with a new religion. The others have had centuries to present their case/adapt. A new religion with a set of race doctrines is chancing its luck. Which is why they’re cautious. But – do we get Scientologists? Bretheren?

    I don’t think we need any religious schools – schools should be secular.

  33. ‘I think one reason is they think that with the free school system they’ll attract lots of people. (They won’t so they will drain their energy for nothing — Frome will take families from Meadow and there won’t be enough interest to fill both schools… they may both get into financial trouble despite –or because of! — the government’s financial blessing of Frome.) Another is that ‘new’ schools don’t have disappointed and angry parents who will be complaining.’

    this is on the nail.

  34. the more Steiner schools there are, the more unlikely it is there will be enthusiasts and large private donations. There are not enough rich steiner enthusiasts to cover the need.

    Another thing worth considering, re Frome, is that when money comes from the government, parents are less likely to contribute — financially, with their labour, and so forth. People assume there is money, they won’t be there to clean classrooms and arrange fairs. They won’t be so easily convinced to hand over financial contributions to a school that’s already got state funding. Well, that’s my hunch. And people will generally come to assume that all other steiner schools will be rescued, sooner or later, by state funding.

  35. ‘ha! But it’s different with a new religion. The others have had centuries to present their case/adapt.’

    But they haven’t adapted, or some of them haven’t. Some of them — more or less openly — espouse stone age values.*

    ‘A new religion with a set of race doctrines is chancing its luck. Which is why they’re cautious.’

    What about muslims who loathe jews? They will be running free schools too. Their values will colour the atmosphere of these schools.

    Not to speak of the prevalent sexism. Misogynism. Lots of crap. Well, that’s in christian schools too — like the bretheren. Women taught to stay home and be baby machines and subservient to men. Though they won’t say that to the school inspection or the school board of course.

    ‘But – do we get Scientologists? Bretheren?’

    Both. If you let one cult in, you have to allow the others.

    *Edit: maybe stone age is wrong. Maybe more like the intolerance of the crusades or something.

  36. ‘anonymous eh? It’s extraordinary how they find this money!’

    Anthroposophists have been able to get donations from rich people all the time. Some adherents have been very very wealthy. This is — or has been — the case in Sweden too. Ytter-Järna was made possible through huge private donation.

    PS. someone will soon write comment number 12345. That’s cool, huh?

  37. Canineosophy supersedes all previous belief systems. It’s scientific of course. But where are the canineosophy free schools, mr Gove!?

    We can’t really imagine such religions, but assume they are practiced in the evil cat clubs.

  38. >PS. someone will soon write comment number 12345.

    Do you have any way of finding out who wrote comment 666? heh.

  39. *FANFARE!!!* You wrote number 12345!

    666 would indeed be interesting to find out. Unfortunately, the early comments ‘disappeared’ when I deleted the blog in the autumn of 2009. Well, they didn’t disappear, but I couldn’t upload the stuff again (ie, merge new and old stuff), and had to put it on a separate blog. Which is probably where I’ll find comment 666. I’ll check it for fun ;-)

    Well, re the gnomes of Frome — here’s another article on their plight:

  40. Nope, gone.

    If I remember it correctly, I had a version of the blog from autumn 2009 on my computer, a back-up, made before I started to delete posts. I later uploaded that copy on another blog, which is still up, but I turned it to occult mode (to speak a language sune understands) since it never had any viewers whatsoever, and I figured this blog had material enough, and better material. But even with that blog, I had trashed some posts, and I guess comments too. The remains are in total disarray now (I just checked, made my brain spin in its skull cavity). There were some hundred comments, maybe 6-700, I think, when I had that thought-malfunction in 2009. The other occult blog contains a couple of hundred of them. The rest have fallen into a gnome burrow.

  41. Which means I’m probably wrong saying they didn’t disappear; comments must have disappeared. Together with the deleted posts. Oh Dog, makes me remember that autumn. Strange, I thought it was 2008. Which begs the question — what happened between 2008 and 2009. It must have been in 2008, because there’s a huge post gap in 2008.

  42. Oh. I found it, the search didn’t work (the search on wordpress blogs just sucks), but I found it through manual browsing. Comment 666 was written by Andreas Lichte. How fateful ;-) But it was long before the, eh, disastruous development.

    I thought about turning the ‘rescued’ blog public again, but it’s filled with unpleasant stuff, quite frankly.

    Edit: mr Dog wrote comment 6666: https://zooey.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/mr-dog-last-summer/#comment-6666

  43. >*FANFARE!!!* You wrote number 12345!

    Well, that seems appropriate for my logical linear brain. Remember I like the trains to run on time. At least I didn’t write post 666.

  44. I know, you’re one of these horrible materialist train nazis!

    Anthroposophists would never care about such silly details… Surely not.

  45. Re the Matt Pearson link, this is an important question:

    ‘And if the thrust of Free School funding is to raise standards and achievement as we are told so often, then visit this link (http://bit.ly/pVthwG) which compares the Steiner Academy in Hereford’s results with its nearest school. With no figures entered for any of the tests (most parents withdrew their children), this school is the lowest performing primary school in the entire country. What might the tax payer make of that?’


    Edit (not wanting to litter the thread with my comments…): The SWSF is happy. The organization announces:

    ‘The government has announced that the Frome Steiner Academy’s bid for Free School status has been successful. The proposal is for a new school to open in September 2012, starting with 26 places but eventually offering double stream entry through to 16 (i.e.: 644 places). It is one of 55 new, state-funded Free Schools that will open from September 2012 onwards.
    The success of the Frome bid is a tribute to the hard work and professionalism of a determined and dedicated team and good news for the children and parents of this Somerset town.’

  46. a likely story.

    There are already flickerings of dissent in the town. Soon it may be pitchforks.

    Imagine Steineristas descending on your town from all over the country – dragging their huge families behind them in carts… oh no.. I’m channelling Mother Courage again..

  47. Somehow I doubt it. They’ll wait for their local steiner to get funding, which they (many of them) now hope will happen.

    Interesting how swsf praises their professionalism…. That way of finding a principal sounds, well, odd.

  48. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-15258213

    ‘Guy Marson, from the Frome Steiner School project said: “I’m a huge fan of it [Steiner schools],’


    ‘Steiner education is based on the ethos of Austrian educationalist Rudolf Steiner.

    A Steiner education aims to provide equal attention to the “physical, emotional, intellectual, cultural and spiritual needs of each pupil” in a system “designed to work in harmony with the different phases of the child’s development”.’

    Why isn’t he called esotericist? Why are the aims not questioned? What do they mean, and are they achieved?

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