Pupils are happy, but school must do better

BRISTOL Steiner School in Redland has been downgraded by Ofsted following an inspection.

The small independent school was judged as Requires Improvement overall, although it was said to be Good for pupils’ personal development and their behaviour and attitudes. In 2019 it was rated Good overall.

The school, which has 73 pupils aged three to 11, wants to extend its upper age limit to 14, but the two inspectors said its leaders did not currently have the capacity to do this.

The Ofsted team, who visited on June 13-15, acknowledged that headteacher Lorraine Swords, the proprietor Waldorf School (Bristol) Ltd and other leaders had in recent times ”needed to resolve a number of complicated issues relating to the school’s operational systems, staffing and curriculum.”

“Leaders are working with success to bring about steady school-wide improvement,” their report said. This included new policies, higher expectations of pupils’ behaviour and academic achievements, a revamped curriculum and a whole-school assessment system.

Ofsted noted that pupils felt happy and safe and were proud to attend the school, and that parents and carers were very positive. 

“There is a strong family feel at this small, inclusive school. Pupils enjoy drawing, weaving, woodwork, forest school and extra-curricular activities such as chess club. 

“In the main school, pupils usually learn a broad range of subjects. However, over time, some pupils have not learned everything they should have. Some gaps in pupils’ knowledge persist. In the kindergarten, many children enjoy the regular daily rhythm, with a blend of child-led and teacher-led activities. However, the experiences children have in kindergarten vary in quality.” 

The school aims to provide a curriculum that is in keeping with Steiner education principles. The inspectors said the children enjoy the specialist curriculum on offer. 

“A highlight for many pupils is eurythmy, which is an art of expression, involving stylized movement in response to music. They say it develops their coordination, physical and mental fitness and inner confidence.” 

The Ofsted report, published on August 16,  also said children were well taught about equalities and diversity, including the protected characteristics and there was a strong focus on teaching about seasonal and cultural festivals. 

But they said improvements were needed in the implementation of the curriculum in the main school, support for children with special educational needs, teachers’ subject knowledge and the quality of children’s experience in the school’s kindergarten.