Why does Moving Forward need a national profile?

 

The establishment of free schools was supposed to give parents real choice in the type of schooling their children received. As we have seen at SAE, the way in which the program actively encouraged schools to be set up in isolation from experienced providers of education has led to a sequence of events that have failed our children and threaten to deprive us of this choice.

 

Since the 1988 Education Act central government has taken an increasingly firm grip on the provision of schooling in England. Local accountability has largely been bypassed. Council controlled Local Education Authorities (LEAs) have been weakened to the point of irrelevance.

 

As parents of children at a failing free school, there is no obvious route by which we can express our will and shape the school our children attend. The traditional mechanisms of electing governors and having our local councillors involved in decision making are denied to us. Control rests with central government. Consequently, we need a voice that central government hears and takes notice of. There are others, such as Humanists UK, who are actively seeking to create a narrative that undermines our choice by associating us with beliefs and practices that are not ours. We need to both counter this and push forward our vision for a modern, aspirational Steiner Waldorf school that can meet the needs of all our children. This needs to reach places where it will have an impact on decision makers who have no direct understanding of our community.

 

Even in our first month of existence, gaining exposure for our views in national media appears to have resulted in our concerns as parents being taken more seriously. It has also countered misconceptions about Steiner Waldorf schooling in the national press. In this, we have a shared interest with other schools and we are now looking to create a national (and even international) debate about what Steiner Waldorf schools should look like in the 21st century. By contacting respected academics and educators with an interest in progressive schooling, we are looking to help shape solutions to the longer-term problems our, and other, schools face in a way that can strengthen our schools and convince central government that Steiner Waldorf schools have a future as part of a state-funded school system that offers parents genuine choice. Our voices as parents alone do not have the power to do this.

 

Moving Forward is focussed on ensuring our children can attend a good, local Steiner Waldorf school. Much of the decision making that will decide if this local need will be met will be made at a national level. For this reason, Moving Forward needs a national profile.