The heart of the Waldorf method is that education is an art – it must speak to the child’s experience. To educate the whole child, their heart and will must be reached, as well as their mind. Rudolf Steiner
As we currently welcome families to virtual visits to our school ahead of our reopening in September 2021, we enclose below a summary of our curriculum approach across the school.
Over coming weeks and months this will become accompanied by a full complement of policy documents and a range of illustrative learning guides and handbooks, all of which will reflect our commitment to excellence in provision across all areas, in offering a progressive and professional Steiner Waldorf education.
Our focus is on students’ development, and the Wynstones Curriculum is centred on to the development of students’ interests and connections to the world – at Wynstones they will be supported in discovering their own uniqueness, experiencing their own value, and cultivating their values.
This development is holistic, it ranges across academic, social, moral and creative capacities; across ‘head, hand and heart’ (a construction of the celebrated Swiss educationalist, Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi). We value excellence, inspiration, and independent thinking, and seek to shape rounded, free-thinking, open and resilient people who make a valuable contribution to their communities and the world.
Wynstones embraces a commitment to excellence in all aspects of endeavour; intellectual and academic; active and embodied; artistic, aesthetic and the affective. As part of this, we will:
• Provide an engaging learning experience and environment of discovery and inspiration that fosters each student’s growth and potential.
• Support a harmonious transition from home to school for our youngest children.
• Provide a broad and balanced education for all students that is coherently planned and sequenced.
• Provide a curriculum that that cumulatively develops the knowledge, skills and dispositions needed not only for the next stage of students’ education, both for future learning and for participation in and contribution to the world of work and civil society.
• Support students’ discovery of their own uniqueness, value, and values through an integrated framework of spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
• Support students’ rounded and aspirational development of ‘head, hand and heart:’
– Promoting a culture of excellence, inspiration and scholarship in academic subjects;
– Support students’ physical development and responsibility for their own health, enabling them to be active and to thrive in their own spatial orientation, physical dexterity and technical skills;
– Developing students’ wellbeing and social and aesthetic capacities, promoting the cultural capital that they need to succeed in relationships and life.
• Ensure equal access to learning for all students, with high expectations for each student and optimum levels of challenge and support.
• Develop active citizenship through PHSEE, Student Council and living models of restorative justice in the school’s behaviour policy.
• Develop students’ understanding of healthy relationships through a programme of Relationships and Sex Education.
• Support development in students’ independent (critical) thinking and global literacy so they are able to make a valuable contribution to their communities and the world, promoting British values and equity, diversity and inclusion.
• Develop students’ independent learning skills and resilience equipping them with choices and versatility in their next steps of education and work, through Futures and Horizons – a high quality careers programme from Class 5.
Teachers set high expectations for all students. They will use appropriate assessment to set ambitious targets and plan challenging work for all groups, including: more able students; students with low prior attainment; students from disadvantaged backgrounds; students with SEND; students with English as an additional language (EAL). Please see our SEND Policy and dedicated inclusion page for further information.
All teachers (class and subject) follow Waldorf pedagogy as an art, craft and science of practice which undertakes a professional reflexivity and freshly curates the developmental challenges at the core of the curriculum for each class. This means that within the constraints of ensuring students’ progress within the content of a cumulative curriculum, teachers have the freedom to and are expected to deliver additional content and learning experiences that meet the unique developmental needs of each class.
Our curriculum approach is holistic, integrated and developmental:
• holistic: ‘head, hand and heart’ are balanced through an equivalent focus on the development of academic, active and affective / aesthetic capacities;
• integrated: curriculum subjects are interwoven with each other vertically (sequentially cumulative in subjects) and horizontally (developmentally thematic per year groups);
• developmental: curriculum content and developmental challenges are organised and sequenced matched to meet and progress students’ physiological and psychological growth.
Class sizes are capped at 21 students from Class 1 to Class 10 in order to optimise attainment, progress and development for students through increased versatility of teaching strategies in organising learners and optimising the quantity and quality of feedback that students receive.
One of the cornerstones of Steiner Waldorf education over the past 100 years has been the Main Lesson, a daily 2 hour lesson delivered for a period of 3 or 4 weeks each across the year. Each Main Lesson focuses on a particular subject that is explored and then left to ‘sleep’ – to rest in a process of both depth and block learning. It encapsulates the learning strategy of ‘quest.’ Waldorf education is renowned for promoting a response to younger children’s questions about the world with a mantra of ‘Well I wonder….’ encouraging ongoing exploration rather than just sharing information. In later years, this approach becomes the heavy lifting of inquiry-based learning.
Our qualifications offer at KS4 Year 11 (Class 10) is built around the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) core subjects of English, Maths, Humanities (History or Geography), Science (triple award) and a Modern Foreign Language. Mandarin Chinese and Spanish are the school’s chosen Modern Foreign Languages (the two most spoken languages worldwide), present within Wynstones’ curriculum as a worldview as well as a means of communication. These are taught from Class 1 with songs and rhymes to Class 10 for GCSE (Chinese from 2021, Spanish from 2022).
Our curriculum provides consistent opportunities for individual project-based work that enables students to further discover their interests and strengths, extending their learning and work towards developing and achieving their goals through learning skills and dispositions including independence, persistence and resilience.
Our curriculum benchmarks and references (but does not follow) the National Curriculum, in order to ensure comparable attainment at standard transition points which, where relevant, affords a smooth transition from Wynstones to a National Curriculum school.
Our curriculum is purposefully unplugged in Early Years (ICT is used only to ensure inclusion and equality), with a gradual introduction of computing alongside its antecedent craft skills (e.g. knitting then coding before office ICT) so that students become conscious users of a range of technologies rather than unconscious consumers, with technology taught sequentially from simple machines to increasingly complex ICT and digital media.
Our healthy relationships, health and sex education curriculum conforms to statutory guidance, is benchmarked according to NSPCC standards (which are available to view here) and is fully consulted on with our parent body.
The school’s Futures and Horizons careers curriculum is contextualized within students’ developing experience of the world. It achieves the Gatsby Benchmarks and is carefully planned to ensure a range of encounters with employers and employees from Class 5, with meaningful work present earlier (e.g. knitting in Class 1 and Building & Farming in Class 3). From Class 7 onwards, students are provided with independent, impartial and individual careers guidance, and are introduced to a range of further and higher education options. Tailored work experience placements in C10 allows older students to have direct experience of the workplace.