The Vision of Norwich Steiner School
The Vision of Norwich Steiner School is to provide a Steiner-Waldorf curriculum for pupils from age 3 – 19 years of age with pupils being able to leave the school as balanced, well-rounded and mature young adults, able to pursue their own futures and destinies with confidence and self-belief.
As an all-through school we are privileged to see the children progress through the school, interacting together along the way. From the foundation-building freedom of kindergarten, up through the lower school and then into the upper school, to see them grow and change, develop their identities, interests, and ideas. The children in each part of the school are able to look ahead to where they will follow, know where they are going and see the possibilities the future may bring.
Summary of Educational Provision
The essence of kindergarten life is play. Through spontaneous imaginative social play and creative activities in our carefully planned environment children aged 3¼ to 6 years old are free to explore and grow into their bodies and into the world.
Pupils in the lower school follow a broad curriculum, where literacy and numeracy are introduced gradually and learning is enriched through music, movement, and an artistic approach. Children are able to learn at their own pace, free from the pressures of testing and examinations, so that they can grow with confidence and with their self- esteem intact.
Our vibrant and friendly upper school for pupils up to 18/19 years of age offers a truly liberating curriculum that respects, guides and supports the development of individuality. Free from the pressure of GCSE and A level examinations, pupils may opt instead to study for a fully accredited Level 3 school leaving qualification, based on the Steiner-Waldorf Curriculum, called the New Zealand Certificate of Steiner Education (NZCSE). This qualification was formerly known as the Steiner School Certificate (SSC).
Experience the school for yourself
At our last school inspection pupils’ spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development was found to be outstanding, and their behavior, excellent; they are friendly, open, lively and considerate of one another. Pupils say they love coming to the school, that they feel safe, valued as individuals and believe that their teachers care deeply about them and work hard to support them to succeed.
We invite you to visit the school out of hours and any child interested in coming to the school is offered a taster day and a two-week trial in the school, with no commitments and free of charge.
There is no rush in kindergarten.
There is no base line-testing, no five-year-old literacy or maths assessments, no measuring and comparing with others (apart from the usual ‘I’m taller’, ‘No, look, I am’, “Well, you had more snack than me.’).
There is no formal teaching or learning. We leave that for school, later.
The children grow, develop, ad learn all the same, all the better; through playing, through doing, through being themselves and being together. Through being allowed to just ‘be’. They become sociable, co-operative, imaginative, creative, confident, and caring. Their natural interest in words, reading, writing and numbers develops naturally. And they learn to enjoy learning.
We give children time and space to develop and learn naturally, each at their own pace, in an environment that is both restful and inspiring. Our morning is structured around familiar routines, within which the children feel safe and are free to flourish.
After settling in and catching up with friends we have circle time, sharing seasonal songs and stories, immersing ourselves in words, in the rhythm of language, and of life.
Practical and artistic activities provide opportunities to develop fine motor skills, or ‘nimble fingers’ and foster a creative approach to learning.
Indoor play (with natural materials) encourages sociability and negotiation as the children transform the space, constructing new environments and trying on different roles. Building dens, houses, house-boats, trains, planes, shops, making rivers, oceans, forests, becoming cats, dogs, horses, kings, mothers, fathers, pilots… and hungry.
At snack time we eat a healthy meal, and catch up on the latest news, jokes and (often tall) stories.
Outside the children range-free, running, jumping, stretching outwards and upwards, rolling down the hill, burrowing in the sandpit, playing house in the playhouse, strolling in the labyrinth… then winding down with a story before going home.
Children begin to join us from the age of 3 years and 3 months, and stay in our mixed-age group until they have turned 6, and are ready for school. Sessions run from 9.00am-1.00pm, Mondays to Fridays, with additional afternoon sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays which continue until 3.30pm.
A gentle continuation of the kindergarten day, the afternoon kindergarten sessions begin at 1pm with a healthy packed lunch. After eating and chatting with friends at the table it is time to rest awhile – snuggling down in the cosy-corner, looking at books and sharing stories, playing quietly or working on our craft projects.
Then we go to the garden for an hour to play, potter about in the labyrinth, dig in the sandpit, help with some gardening, or just bask in the sun (or run in the rain).
We always have a story just before the children go home at 3.30pm.
Growing Through Kindergarten – Recommended Attendance
Kindergarten works most harmoniously and is of greatest benefit to all of the children when there is a good mixture of ages. As they play together each day the children really get to know each other, and the group takes on a lovely, sociable, family feeling.
A mixed age group allows all of the children to shine- the older ones develop a caring, helpful attitude towards the younger ones, setting good examples and inspiring play, and the younger ones are able to join in with games, to watch and to imitate.
3¼-4-year-old children settle into the rhythm, routine and habits of kindergarten by becoming familiar with the staff, other children and environment, so they come for a minimum of three consecutive mornings a week to start with (although some are ready to attend on four days. We find that this builds a firm footing for their kindergarten education as good habits are reinforced and independence and self-confidence will then grow more quickly.
4–5-year-old children are particularly imaginative and socially versatile, so are expected to attend a minimum of four days each week to enable them to further develop their co-operative and creative play. This is important for language (and, later, literacy) development, and their increased attendance is of great benefit to the whole group as they bring a beautiful balance and harmony, linking the older and younger children in play, caring for the little ones, and looking up to and imitating the older ones.
From their fifth birthday onward, the children are completely immersed into kindergarten life, attending every morning, contributing to and fully benefiting from the whole kindergarten experience. Our five-year-olds are proud to start to help with the general running of the morning (setting the table or washing up) and as their sense of responsibility and ability grows they look forward to the new activities and responsibilities to come. Attending afternoon kindergarten for one or two afternoons a week helps to prepare them for the longer days in school later on.
Our 6-year-olds truly are the leaders of the kindergarten. Totally familiar with the environment, the rhythm and the routines, they are at home now, they are in their element. They have many new privileges, projects and responsibilities- they serve food, mend toys and help the younger children with their waterproofs. They organise and supervise play, enjoying passing on their knowledge and skills to the younger ones.
During the summer term they attend an additional afternoon session where they complete craft projects and prepare for the next stage in their journey- upstairs to Class One.
Further details about attendance requirements may be found in the school’s admission policy.
There is no testing in lower school: no measuring of children against each other, no comparing of achievements. We value pupils for who they are, and seek to nourish each child’s inherent abilities, supporting them through our enriching curriculum to reach their full creative, academic, and human potential. We believe that it is wrong for a child to feel that he or she has failed, based on criteria set by some faceless authority.
There are no interactive whiteboards, no computers, no iPads or other electronic devices in lower school classrooms: rather there are blackboards and chalk, paintings and drawings, musical instruments, flowers, plants and art materials. Classrooms are decorated in supportive, enhancing colours, and have high ceilings and views of the treetops.
The rhythms of the school day support the children in their learning, and we mark the yearly circles with festivals – shaping, baking, slaying and sharing dragon bread at Michaelmas, walking the labyrinth with lanterns at Martinmas, treading the Advent spiral, planting earth-candles at Candlemas, hunting for Easter eggs, dancing round the maypole on May Day, making paper doves for Whitsun, and jumping a full flaming fire at St. John’s, helping the children to experience their place in the world.
Teaching and Learning
Teaching and Learning Teaching is creative and artistic, visually and imaginatively appealing and catering for different styles of learning and different types of learner. Class teachers usually stay with their class all through lower school, so the teachers and children really get to know each other. This allows teachers to set appropriate and realistic expectations, based on their on-going observations of the class.
Learning is active and sensory, and the rhythmic, lively and vibrant lessons often feel like a conversation: an ongoing dialogue between the children and the teacher, as they explore a subject together. Ideas are exchanged, questioned, built upon; possibilities extended: “We could…’ ‘How do I…?’ “What if we…” ‘Let’s…’. patterns are noticed, connections are made.
Everyone is involved and engaged, inspired and encouraged, recognised as individuals and aware of each other, of interests and needs. The children enjoy each other’s company and there is an easy, fluid interaction between them and the teacher. Classes seem to have their own momentum – moving along on their journey, through the lesson, the day, the term, the seasons, the year, the curriculum, the school: together.
Literacy and numeracy are introduced gradually, through story and rhythmic movement, building on the interest generated and the seeds planted in kindergarten, and will continue to be taught with visual language and gestures, and through direct, physical experience throughout the school.
Subject Lesson themes are entwined with those of the main lesson blocks. For example, when Class 5 is studying Ancient Greece, the children might be modelling a Medusa, drawing a discus thrower, painting a pot, trimming a tunic in handwork, and training for the Steiner Olympics: throwing javelins, wrestling, jumping and running ‘marathons’…
The Lower School day
After experiencing the space, time and freedom to play, learn and develop at their own paces in kindergarten, 6-7 year old children are ready for the exciting new world of school, of letters and numbers when they move upstairs to lower school.
Class teachers greet the children individually with a handshake every morning, and allow some time to catch up with friends, or perhaps do some drawing, before class starts at 9.00.
The first part of the day is spent in ‘main lesson’, weaving together physical, rhythmic, musical, practical and artistic activities with oral and written work. Main lessons are taught in three-week subject blocks around a curriculum topic, such as literacy, numeracy, geography or history.
Morning break is at 11.00 and after a healthy snack the children go outside to play together for half an hour – in the playground or the field, surrounded by trees, flowers, and actual mud – den building, running, chasing, skipping, stilt-walking, hop-scotching, four-squaring, shooting hoops or storming the castle.
Then the children have subject lessons: French and German (taught initially through games, songs and poems), music, violin, drama, art, painting, handwork, modelling (with clay or beeswax), or form drawing, and later gardening, woodwork, games, religion and science.
After a packed lunch at 1.00 it’s outside for more fresh air, exercise and socialising, before afternoon lessons start at 2.00. We aim to balance our day with the more academic subjects in the mornings, and the more practical and physical lessons in the afternoons.
Pupils discover the joy of movement through a rich curriculum of children’s games and sports: an inclusive programme at the centre of our curriculum, which meets the developmental needs of children throughout the school, promoting physical agility, social awareness, self-esteem and cooperation. Activities include traditional games, as well as athletics, swimming, volleyball, basketball, tennis, climbing and sailing.
Children are inspired by and connected to their natural surroundings, so we spend as much time outside as we can. In their gardening classes the children are busy transforming the kindergarten field – planting borders, vegetable patches and fruit trees, digging and weeding, watering and feeding, and laying in the grass; watching the garden grow.
At the end of the school day the children and teachers shake hands again, to say goodbye, until the morning, when they will take up their conversation anew.
Norwich Steiner School opened its Upper School in September 2012. It is one of only four Steiner Schools in the UK currently able to offer the new Level 3 qualification the “New Zealand Certificate of Steiner Education” or the NZCSE (formerly called the Steiner School Certificate or SSC). The Upper School is for pupils from age 14 through to Class 12/13, when the oldest pupils are 18/19 years old and ready to take their next step in life.
Three cohorts of pupils have graduated from the school, one group in July 2017, the second group in July 2019 and most recently, the third group graduated in July 2021. The alternate years are because our classes are combined the whole way through and the whole class graduates together. The majority of pupils or all pupils successfully attain their Level 3 qualification, with between one- and two-thirds of pupils applying for and being offered places at universities (see below). Many of our students take a gap year to travel or work at the end of school and before applying for university.
We aim to help students work through adolescence in a healthy way, providing sufficient time to find resonance and direction for their next steps in life while providing a balance for the extremes of emotion and ideas and between inner and outer worlds. Students develop a love of learning, as well as practical and transferable skills that will help them along their way.
The recently developed NZCSE qualification is based on the Steiner Waldorf curriculum, leaving Norwich Steiner School entirely free from the pressures of the National Curriculum and mainstream qualifications. We have found this allows both pupils and teachers to enjoy learning and teaching in a creative and invigorating environment.
The creative breadth and depth of the Waldorf Curriculum, together with appropriate teaching practices, encourages the emergence of healthy young adults capable of independent and creative thinking, healthy social relationships and the ability to make choices and to succeed in all aspects of contemporary life.
Quick Facts about the New Zealand Certificate of Steiner Education (NZCSE)
Norwich Steiner School is at the forefront of developing the New Zealand Certificate of Steiner Education in the UK. Formerly known as the Steiner School Certificate, this is a Level 3 Qualification, on a par with A Levels or the International Baccalaureate. Below we refer to this qualification as the “Certificate”.
How is it different from GCSEs and A Levels?
The Certificate overlays our broad and rich Steiner-Waldorf upper school curriculum, and this enables our students to gain their qualification without having to study separately for GCSEs or A Levels.
The Certificate has three levels, which the students complete as they move through upper school, gathering points as they go. Assessment is continuous, using a variety of methods, and designed to provide evidence of the learning that has taken place. It is not at all like an A level where students work all year and then either pass or fail a series of exams.
Students have told us that their mental health benefits from this method as it avoids the stress of end-of-year exams. They always know how they are doing and can plan their work to take full advantage of the learning outcomes on offer. It is a very practical qualification in terms of how it is structured, and if students miss a learning outcome or drop points (for example, through illness) there are opportunities to pick them up later from another piece of work.
How long does it take to get the Certificate?
Pupils may register for the Certificate when they are in class 10/11 (age 15/16). It takes three years of study the gain the Qualification and each year equates to one of three levels of the qualification. There is more information about the Certificate on our school website, and directly from the school. Information is also available on the New Zealand website: https://www.sedt.co.nz/certificate_of_steiner_education/
What do the students study?
The broad upper school curriculum includes art, craft, music, drama, maths, science, social science, English, movement and a second language.
All students participate in subjects across the entire breadth of the curriculum until Level 3, in the final year, when in addition to studying a core curriculum of English and humanities, maths and science, arts and crafts, and the class 12 project, they choose 3 specialist subjects. In this way every student gains a unique qualification which reflects their own interests and strengths, as well as continuing to develop skills in other areas.
Can pupils join part-way through the Qualification?
Although the general expectation is that pupils will do all three years, with each year’s achievements being the foundation for the next, it is possible for pupils from other schools to join part way through, provided they have achieved comparable standards of work elsewhere.
Are the students able to get into university without taking A Levels?
Yes. The Certificate is recognised by universities in the UK and across Europe, and we have been met with positivity from UK universities.
All pupils from the 2017, 2019 and 2021 school leavers received multiple offers, including offers from universities which form part of the prestigious Russell Group.
Where do our graduating pupils go when they leave school?
As our school runs a combined class system, pupils graduate from the school every 2 years. From the July 2017 cohort (our first group to graduate) 9 of the 13 pupils applied for places on University courses either on leaving school or during the first year after leaving school.
Our second cohort left the school in July 2019, and of these, five are immediately taking up places at University and the other four pupils in the class are taking a gap year.
Four pupils from our third cohort in July 2021 applied and went to university straight from school; the other 14 have taken a gap year, although of these, 10 are in process of applying for university at the time this prospectus was updated (November 2021).
Universities that have offered our pupils places:
University of East Anglia, Bath Spa, Goldsmiths, Bath, University of Surrey, Westminster, York, Brighton, Kent, London Metropolitan, Durham, Chichester, Loughborough, Kent, Norwich University of the Arts, Birmingham, Cardiff Metropolitan, Anglia Ruskin, Bournemouth, Brunel, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Falmouth, Aberdeen, Sussex, York St Johns and Lincoln
Degree Courses attended by our students:
- Pure Maths
- Maths with computer science
- Computer Graphics
- Music & Art (Joint degree)
- Aerospace Engineering
- Politics & International relations
- Theatre & digital production
- Hospitality and events management
- Fashion marketing & management
- English Literature
- Environmental Science
Do students have to take the qualification?
We can support students who want to go on to higher education but do not wish to pursue the Certificate, in developing a portfolio of independent work in their chosen area of study; quite possibly to a standard more commonly seen in the first year of a relevant degree course than in the work of a pupil of sixth form age. For students wishing to follow a more vocational pathway, or perhaps learn a trade, more of an emphasis would be placed on developing good practical skills and accessing a range of relevant work placements.
Overseas Visiting Students
Norwich Steiner School welcomes applications from Steiner pupils from other countries who may wish to join our school for a period of time ranging from 6 weeks to one year. We are able to offer provision for classes 9 to 13 (age 14-19 years old) pupils.
Although the UK is no longer part of the European Union, students from the EU and elsewhere in the world may visit and experience the School for up to 6 months on a Standard Visitor’s Visa. However, if you live outside of the UK and would like your son or daughter to become a pupil in the school for a year or longer, please get in touch. With sufficient notice, it is possible for us to register to take long-stay pupils.
Norwich is a lovely historic City and the school is located within 10 minutes walk of the centre. There are lots of cobbled streets and quaint back alleyways, with modern shopping facilities sensitively integrated into the city so that there is quite a cosmopolitan feel to the City. The Norfolk Broads and the coast are just a stones throw from the city, and regular trains between Norwich and the Capital, make day trips to London to see some of the sights, an easy opportunity.
As the approach to education followed by Steiner Schools differs considerably from that which is offered in the mainstream sector, it is important before applying for a place for a child in this school, that parents understand something of the educational philosophy and curriculum we follow.
In addition to any research or reading parents may do, we advise parents to attend an Introductory morning whenever possible.
Due to Covid restrictions, we are unable to offer introductory mornings whereby families can tour the school during a normal school day. However, we are still doing tours for individual families after school finishes, so please contact the school to arrange at your convenience.
We invite any child interested in joining the school to attend for a taster day, followed by a two-week trial in the class they would be joining. This trial is completely free of charge and without commitment on either side.
Please ask for a copy of our Admissions Policy and when you are ready. If you have any queries or questions, please phone the school or send an email and we will be happy to help.
Class age chart
The following chart is intended to provide a guide for parents to see which class their child might be in and the equivalent year in mainstream schools.
As in many of the newer Steiner Schools, the class sizes are relatively small and a combined-class system is in operation. Classes vary in size with the pioneering classes at the front of the school naturally being smaller and the largest class size comprising 20 children.
|Class Name:||Steiner Class||Mainstream Equivalent||Age of Pupils|
|Orchard||Kindergarten||Pre-school & reception||3 ¼ – 6|
|Linden||2 & 3||3 & 4||7-9|
|Ash||4 & 5||5 & 6||9-11|
|Rowan||6 & 7||7 & 8||11-13|
|Maple – Upper School||8 & 9||9 & 10||13-15|
|Sequoia – Upper School||10 & 11||11 & 12||15-17|
|Willow – Upper School||12 & 13||13 & 14||17-19|
Steiner schools in the UK operate almost exclusively in the independent sector, with the exceptions of the Steiner Academy in Hereford. Until such time as state funding may be extended to all Steiner Schools, a large proportion of the running costs will need to come from parental fees and fund-raising activities.
In Norwich Steiner School, we offer 5 full days (9am-3.30pm) for all children from Class 1 upwards. There is, however, the option for parents to take younger children out on one or two afternoons a week should they so wish.
Fees for 2022-2023
Kindergarten £4,572 / year (for five sessions)
Lower School £7,665 / year
Upper School £8,165 / year
Afternoon Kindergarten £16.85 / session
Fees in the School and Kindergarten are set at a level to cover the basic day-to-day expenditure of these provisions. Please note that in the absence of state funding or a generous benefactor, our ability to offer concessionary rates to families on low incomes is strictly limited and dependent upon the majority of people being able to pay full fees.
However, we would not willingly turn away any child on the sole grounds of inability to pay and would endeavour to work with any family committed to the education to find a way forward that would allow the child to be accepted into the kindergarten or school.
Before requesting a concession on payment of full fees, we ask that you please consider whether there are relatives/godparents of the child, with a family interest in their future, and who may be willing to make a regular contribution to their education, thus easing pressure on the very limited resources of the charity. We ask parents to also please note that the school is unable to subsidise families where expensive or unrealistic lifestyle choices contribute to an inability to pay school fees.
Governance & management
Rudolf Steiner gave two main indications for the running of a school. In the first he said that teachers and those running the school should try to make decisions together rather than one person, such as a headmistress or master being in charge.
The second indication Steiner gave is that the teachers should be involved in the running of the school, to help them remain connected with real world practicalities and to keep their teaching relevant to the age in which they lived and taught, but also to ensure that child pedagogy was held central in the decision-making process.
More details and a copy of the School Constitution and Management Team terms of reference can be obtained from the school or downloaded from the school’s website.
Contacting the School
By email: [email protected]
By telephone: 01603 611175 attended 8.45am-4.00pm Monday-Friday, answerphone at other times.
By post to:
Norwich Steiner School,
For more information, including policies, procedures, past school newsletters and information about the history of the school, please see our school website
Please download the full Pdf document here: