New Stroud Steiner school will cater for 600 pupils
PLANS are taking shape for a Steiner free school in Stroud for more than 600 pupils.
So far more than 500 children have been informally signed up to join the school which could open in 2015 and there are plans to extend that number to 800 within 15 years.
The school is being set up by a group called the Stroud Steiner Free School Initiative Core Team under the Government's free schools programme which allows teachers, charities, parents and educational experts to open their own schools.
Those behind the scheme say they plan to 'harness all the benefits of the Steiner curriculum alongside the environmental, creative and academic considerations of today'.
The aim is to make the school as 'green and healthy as possible with an emphasis on movement - which means no sitting on chairs all day'.
Those involved also hit back this week at criticism.
A campaign called Stop Steiner in Stroud has been launched by Bowbridge resident Helen Saunders.
She is concerned that parents will be attracted to the school without a full understanding of the curriculum.
In a recent letter to the SNJ, Mrs Saunders wrote: "The new Steiner free school bid needs to be examined in detail by any kindergarten parents before deciding to support it and make sure you agree with anthroposophy because it is the guiding light of Steiner schools."
Anthroposophy is a system of beliefs based on the teachings of Rudolph Steiner which maintain that by correct training and personal discipline one can attain experience of the spiritual world.
However, a spokesman for the free school team said that although they are planning a Steiner curriculum, anthroposophy will not be taught.
The team say other claims levelled against them are 'simply untrue' and are especially concerned about criticism that the school will not offer nationally recognised qualifications.
In a statement they said: "It is a UK Government mandate that any state funded school accepting students up to the age of 16 must offer GCSEs and that is precisely what we will be doing.
"The only belief we all share is the desire to provide the best education possible for our children and prepare them for the world, as productive adults who can do anything they aspire to do."
Organisers are now trying to gain as much support as possible before submitting a formal application in January.