Important update - new legal action

admin October 6th, 2008

Previously it was believed that the Ministerial Assurance received in the summer was sufficient to protect Steiner Waldorf kindergartens from the new learning and development requirements set down in law in the EYFS framework which came into force on 1st September this year.

We now believe that the legal status of this Ministerial Assurance is of limited value in law, if any at all, and therefore may have no bearing on how Ofsted interpret the EYFS.

An EYFS exemptions process was revealed in July, but we were repeatedly told that this process was not intended for Steiner Waldorf schools.

Given that the EYFS is now in force and we are still uncertain as to how it will be applied to a Steiner Waldorf Kindergarten we have, with the help of a family from Alderbridge Steiner Waldorf school, begun to pursue a Judicial Review of the EYFS Exemptions regulations. There is an extremely short timescale for this to be effective - submission must be by 4th November 2008. A respected barrister who is SW educated is advising us, along with solicitors Leigh Day & Co. who will be handling the case. The details of the parents’ complaint is available here and makes interesting reading.

We remain concerned about the process for applying for exemptions from parts of the EYFS. We don’t believe that this will be a straight forward process, and it is vital that careful consideration is given to the merits of the exemptions process and to the quality of applications made. It is not yet clear where the exemptions would leave SW schools from a legal standpoint - it is not simply a case of applying to be exempt from all of EYFS Learning & development requirements - indeed this is impossible, as the educational programmes cannot be disapplied (only modified). It is also not at all clear whether or not schools may receive the exemption that they request.

We’ve arranged a conference with legal counsel to discuss (amongst other things) all the options for protecting Steiner Kindergartens. Janni Nicol and Sylvie Sklan have agreed to attend on behalf of The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship. It is very likely that we will need to ask parents to contribute to the legal costs of investigating this matter and pursuing any legal action.

More news will be posted once we have had the conference on Thursday.

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