always build on innate ability. Students’ strong independent learning skills, motivation and enthusiasm for learning stand them in good stead for later life. Minimising screen time – At Steiner Waldorf

schools, computers are generally used by students at secondary age and not earlier. There is growing evidence that too much ‘screen time’ is detrimental to children because it causes a distraction from learning. Children who spend less time on screens are healthier, do better in school, fall asleep more easily and tend to get more exercise – all vital for a successful exam season. Talking to someone – All our Lower School

obviously, they define winners and losers, but they also define which subjects and learning styles will be officially approved. Unsurprisingly, we end up with conventions

that fail the majority of children, leading, in the name of ‘rigour’, to a growing population that has been schooled, without becoming educated, trained but not cultivated. So-called solutions increasingly look like those of Einstein's ‘fool’ – ‘one who performs exactly the same action repeatedly, in the expectation of a different result’.

The Steiner Waldorf Schools approach to examinations We take a different route at Steiner Waldorf schools. Some settings provide formal examinations whilst continuing to offer young people a wide cultural and practical curriculum, with emphasis upon the experiential and explorative as outlined in the Steiner Waldorf curriculum. This also involves cherry-picking key elements from the general curriculum, that can provide young people with a comprehensive practical, social-emotional and academic education. Experience shows that the majority of Steiner

pupils consistently produce examination results well above the national average and pupils progress to a wide range of universities and other tertiary education programmes. In addition, those who have been Steiner educated go on to work in a variety of industries, both creative and those such as engineering, science, academia, journalism, politics and architecture. Steiner education’s alternative approach to

dealing with examinations is set out to combat various pressures and stresses that naturally come with this form of testing. To illustrate this: We advise and provide for our students: Exercise – Nothing de-stresses the mind faster

than physical activity and our belief in outdoor learning provides children with plenty of this, even in the build up to their exams. Fresh air and creative thinking, we find, can only benefit a child in their preparation for examination. School trips – Within Steiner education, school

trips form a major part of the curriculum due to the added experiential benefit that they can have on children. For example, Class 9 (Year 10) pupils may go abroad on a language trip and in the last year of school, there will usually be a foreign trip

34 June 2018

to look at aspects of European culture. At Wynstones Steiner School in Gloucestershire, an annual hiking trip to Scotland takes place for Class 10 (Year 11) students about to sit their finals. We find that this has an immense advantage towards de-stressing children and increasing comradery ahead of an intense period of testing. Singing – Starting the morning with

participatory music is known to produce a positive and productive environment for our students by elevating their moods and encouraging them to study more efficiently. Steiner ethos is to provide an unhurried and creative learning environment where children can find the joy in learning and experience the richness of childhood rather than early specialisation or academic hot-housing. Eurythmy – We teach this form of movement

that attempts to make visible the tone and feeling of music and speech. This builds concentration, attentiveness and self-discipline, thus better preparing them for the revision period prior to examinations. Values – We seek to instil key humane values

to help young people to optimise their ability. Hard-work, determination and good teaching can

students are assigned the same Class Teacher throughout their schooling, and so have naturally formed a close working relationship with their educator in this time. At the Upper School stage, students will have a Class Guardian, and/or individual mentor. We encourage students to approach staff if they are having difficulties or experiencing signs of stress due to examinations or for any other reason. Expectations – In Steiner education, the unique

qualities of each child are observed, albeit not always measured. However, the development of every pupil is closely monitored, mainly through ongoing formative assessment and in-depth study. Educators and parents work closely together to build a picture of the child that helps everyone to support that child’s development. An emphasis on formative and on-going assessment reduces the dependence on, and the anxiety related to, testing. We take pride in all our alumni, but, inevitably

some stand out for the public recognition they receive – for example, the 2013 Nobel Prize winner, Dr Thomas Sudhoff, or the video-dance artist Katrina McPherson. One of our ex-pupils, a post-doctoral research

student at CERNE laboratory in Switzerland, Dr. Christian Byrnes, shared his thoughts on our approach to examination recently. He said: “Steiner education has taught me to

study for the sake of studying rather than to pass exams; the difference is crucial.”

Please note – the views expressed are those of the author.

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