School off hook over standards

By MORGAN TAIT


The Taikura Rudolf Steiner school community has been reassured by the Minister of Education, Anne Tolley, that they can rest easy over National Standards and the future of their school.

The Hastings school was one of hundreds throughout the country opposed to the controversial new directive, but in June cried foul when a letter from Ms Tolley urged them to comply or face legal action, and potentially lose government funding.

Protest was rife since the forced compliance, and included a large presence of parents at Prime Minister John Key's Napier meeting.

Last month, after a meeting with concerned Taikura parents, Tukituki MP Craig Foss wrote to Ms Tolley on their behalf, and received a reply on Thursday he said alleviated many of their concerns.

The letter said the special character of the school would not be jeopardised, and schools would not be required to change their programmes.

"The Ministry is fully aware of the special character of these schools and you can assure both [names blanked out] that younger students not meeting national standards will not make Steiner schools a target for closure.

"You are welcome to tell your constituents that the implementations of National Standards will not require Steiner schools to change their programmes."

Ms Tolley said reporting "within the Steiner context" is a way to combat the issue of young students falling below national standards due to classroom structure in early schooling.

Taikura Rudolf Steiner School Board of Trustees Chairperson Lauren Hudson said the school was pleased with the minister's response, but was curious to see how the directive would be applied nationwide. Steiner schools focus on children learning at their own pace and the notion of measuring children went against that philosophy.

"Given the minister's stand as outlined in her recent letter via Craig Foss, the Federation of Steiner Schools is currently negotiating with the Ministry to agree how National Standards will be applied practically in all Steiner Schools - not only Taikura," she said.

"Taikura Rudolf Steiner School is therefore unable to comment specifically about what these agreements will be or how they will work in practice. However, we are pleased that the minister is sending a strong signal that the Steiner schools' special characters will not be jeopardised."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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