National Curriculum Development Group in 2013
The work of the last years continues on for this group with the next National meeting programmed for August 8th and 9th.in Wellington. Building on the work of recent years in the area of curriculum development and pedagogical sharing.
Earlier in the term a Learning Steps hui was convened at Michael Park School in Auckland and was well attended by all the Integrated member schools. Supported financially by NZSTE funding, this was an important gathering where schools discussed their implementation of the National Learning Steps and some review tasks were undertaken.
Preparation for this year’s Federation National Assessment project has begun also with this year’s priorities scheduled for confirmation at the August forum. This project has grown in the last years to include moderation and comparison of Reading and Mathematics student achievement data in Classes 4,5,6, and 7. The resultant annual report has been used successfully by many schools as part of their assessment practice and been commented on favourably By ERO audit teams.
From the Secretary
Possible Expansion into State Schools
In the last term, two North Island state schools have expressed a strong interest in adopting Waldorf paedagogy. They both have strong connections with Federation Early Childhood members and Mark Thornton has visited both schools and attended meetings with all interested parties. This is an exciting development and we will hold a watching brief at this stage.
Both the Motueka and the Matariki (Palmerston North) Trusts submitted applications to become Partnership schools. The Government response to this first round of applications is due very shortly.
Steiner School Certificate
Three schools in this country are offering this qualification to students and several schools in Europe are wishing to take it up this year. Karen Brice-Geard and mark McGavock have visited Europe already in 2013 and are about to make a second trip. Countries with schools interested include the UK, Germany and Finland.
Jocelyn Mackinnon has agreed to take over the financial work in respect of the SSC. This has grown to be the major aspect of the Federation’s finances in terms of expenditure.
The Executive has completed the work set by the 2012 Council Meeting and full members are currently considering some additional changes proposed by one member. Responses are due by 31 July.
Clare Ridout from the Dunedin school has agreed to take over a Treasurer from mark Thornton. Mark will continue with the day to day bookkeeping and support to the Executive. Clare’s appointment will be taken to the AGM in August for formal approval.
Registration of Trade Marks and Protection of Intellectual Property
Work through Buddle Findlay, lawyers, in registering the names ‘Rudolf Steiner’ and ‘Waldorf’ and in protecting intellectual property rights in connection with the SSC is now complete.
NZSTE and Early Childhood Report Portfolio for the Federation.
NZSTE – The New Zealand Steiner Education group now meets twice a year to coordinate, support and develop professional development and teacher education. The third meeting has been replaced by a curriculum development meeting both for early child hood and primary education.
The primary and early childhood In Service courses, which are run in partnership with the Federation and Taruna, continue to support Steiner/Waldorf teachers in their work. (See attached report)
A meeting was held with two members of the coordinating group of the International Association Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Education, IASWECE, in April this year in Korea, to see how our Early Childhood students could receive an International Certificate for Early Childhood teacher education in New Zealand.
Consequently the early childhood In Service course is extending the two year programme to three years and including some directed studies in order to deepen the early childhood work and to meet International Steiner/Waldorf early childhood education requirements so that the students can receive an International Steiner/Waldorf Certificate on completion of the course.
NZSTE has an overview of the professional development needs in schools. Cluster groups in various curriculum areas have been a successful way of meeting these needs and of teachers in specific areas to meet together to share their work. This year cluster meetings for Eurythmy, Languages, Maths, Science and English have been budgeted.
Two conferences ( Middle/High School and Early Childhood) have also been organized for this year with pedagogical and financial support form NZSTE.
NZSTE also continues to support AUT and Taruna which both provide Steiner/Waldorf education programmes and this is greatly facilitated by representatives from both those institutions attending the meetings.
ECAC and EEF – the Federation is a member of both the Early Childhood Advisory Council for the Ministry of Education and the Early Education Federation.
We would like to thank Marjorie Theyer who has been attending both these meetings on our behalf for the past 20 odd years.
She has recently resigned from attending these meetings and I have agreed to attend on behalf of the Federation.
I will send a report around to my early childhood colleagues after each meeting and would welcome any feedback or suggestions on how to make the information more accessible.
(See latest report)
IASWECE – We have been a member of the International Association of Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Association for a year now. The next meeting will be in October this year in Brussels.
We are in the process of aligning our early childhood teacher education with their international requirements and I met with Susan Howard and Clara Aerts in April in Korea to see how this can be achieved as mentioned earlier in the NZSTE report. (Latest IASWECE report attached)
Early Childhood Advisor for the Federation – Marjorie Theyer is back on the road again and continues to support early childhood education around the country. Particularly the new kindergartens and initiatives which have sprung up in Keri Keri, Whitianga, Taupo, Whanganui, New Plymouth, Puhoi, Waihi and all the larger centres.
Marjorie also brings our early childhood in service courses and conferences to life when she travels round the country and consequently their attendance at both of these is excellent.
Kathy MacFarlane for the Executive.
2012 Annual Report New Zealand Steiner Teacher Certificate
( Early Childhood) In – Service Course.
2012 saw the completion of the second year of the third two year In-Service Early Childhood Course which is delivered by Taruna in partnership with the Federation of RSS of NZ.
The feedback from the course, given both verbally and in written form through Taruna’s established formal process was extremely positive. This group of students was again eager and very appreciative of what was offered over the course of the two years. There was a point made of the lack of Maori content in our course. However, we feel that our prime goal is to explain what we do and why in Waldorf Early childhood education. Feedback from the Federation Advisor, Marjorie Theyer, and requests from the students gave us the opportunity to adapt some of the work to meet the particular needs of this group of early childhood teachers.
This programme started in 2011 with 36 would-be participants, of which 3 people from the previous intake, who had not attended seminar 1. 3 people were unable to attend the first seminar. 5 people withdrew or have not finished completely due to changed circumstances. 6 people have still to finish the course by attending various seminars with the 2013/2014 intake. It was recognised that accepting new students later on in the course is not ideal both from a management point of view and because it is hard to become part of a group that has already formed. Consequently it was decided that no new students will be accepted after the second block of the first year of any new course.
Most students have met their requirements and their certificates are in the process of being signed off. Hopefully all students will have completed the course by the end of this year.
Kathy MacFarlane and Edith van der Meer, as course directors have established a good working relationship and are supported with the preparation for each seminar by Marjorie Theyer, the Federation Advisor for Early Childhood.
The programme is run at Taruna College as a co – initiative with NZSTE (New Zealand Steiner Teacher Education), the group mandated by the Federation of New Zealand Steiner Schools. This course has been designed for people working in Steiner Kindergartens, early Childhood centres and Play Groups who have very little or no Steiner training. At this course we welcomed the first In-home childcare practitioners.
In 2012 Edith van der Meer took on most of the administration work of the course, to take the pressure off the Taruna staff and the have a more direct communication with the students, which has proven to be less confusing for all.
Teaching and Learning:
The students on the course have formed a strong learning community and have supported each other between seminars through a Facebook site and through visiting each other as part of the course requirements.
We always seek to incorporate the feed-back from the students to meet the needs of each particular group. We try and create a cohesive programme, with a good flow within each seminar, although we are always dependent on the availability of the tutors, who come from Hawke’s Bay and further a field. The strength of this course has always been to have the support of a range of guest tutors, Anthroposophical Nurses, Doctors, Priests and experienced Kindergarteners and Teachers who have done much to enrich the effectiveness of the programme. Edith, Kathy and Marjorie have also contributed to the programme in their areas of expertise which are growing with each course!
Once again we owe a lot to the support of mentors in running this course. They give freely of their time and knowledge and make that the content is tested in the practice of the early childhood work of each individual student.
Assessment and Moderation:
Individual and group forum meetings with participants were scheduled during each seminar to look at logbooks and to discuss kindergarten and early childhood centre issues.
Mentoring has played a big part in this course and it is not always easy to find experienced kindergarten teachers especially in the smaller centres. As more students are becoming trained, it is likely that this support will increase over time. Once again a difficulty is for students to get release time from their centres to complete the observations required for the course.
The students have completed a full evaluation for the course provided by Taruna and the results are held by the manager of Taruna.
Participants have completed written evaluations after each seminar and the learning points have been collated and as much as possible integrated in the planning of each subsequent seminar.
At the end of the fourth seminar an anonymous evaluation was done by each participant and the course coordinators received the outcomes. As stated, a very high level of satisfaction with the programme was expressed. Suggestions for further improvement of this programme included a request for more forum time to respond to questions arising within each seminar as well as questions arising in their work in the kindergartens. This forum time has been incorporated into the current programme.
Marjorie Theyer, travelling around the country in her role of Federation Advisor, has commented on the improvement in practice in many centres.
Feedback from NZSTE representatives from the schools has also been very positive.
Reinstating support for mentoring the students in the budget has had a positive effect on this integral part of the course. We are planning to extent this to include travel costs for the programme directors, who need to step in and visit places where there is no other Steiner initiative and no suitable mentor near by. Also included in the budget for the new course will be the administration work done by Edith van der Meer.
As programme directors, we feel extremely pleased that we have completed our third two year course. We were again blessed by an enthusiastic group of course participants, who were open and appreciative of what was on offer over the course of the past two years.
We are grateful to all the tutors, who have given so much in content and to the mentors, who have accompanied the journey of the participants. This course now feels solidly established and an integral part of the few study possibilities that exist in New Zealand.
Kathy MacFarlane and Edith van der Meer
The Wellington City Rudolf Steiner kindergarten is a small kindergarten which continues to thrive and maintain healthy waiting lists despite surrounding early childhood centre’s losing numbers of children. We are investigating the feasibility of starting another kindergarten in the Wellington area to help alleviate the pressure of the waiting list and thereby allow more children to experience Steiner early childhood education. This year we have also been running an afternoon Playgroup which has been very successful and are planning early next year to support Mary Willow in establishing morning playgroups that will feed the Steiner kindergartens throughout the greater Wellington area. Our main challenge at the moment is to find premises for both these initiatives given financial constraints.
Whitianga and Kuaotunu
Currently we have two Steiner Playgroups and two Kindergartens, one in Kuaotunu and one in Whitianga.
As we rent the premise in Whitianga and pay $ 375 per week our aim is to find Land so that we can build a purpose- build Kindergarten in the future. The vision is to have 5 acre’s so that
we can start a school as well on the same land. We do not have the funds to buy land and build so we are hoping to lease land, but this is all in the open. To read that in Wanganui a State School might become a Steiner School is fantastic.
Steiner Education at AUT
It is now nine years since the first Steiner education papers were taught at AUT. Since that time, they have been taken by a total of 121 students. There have been four lecturers: Gaylene Denford-Wood who began the course, Paul White, John Cole and now myself. This is my third year teaching at the university.
The numbers of students opting to specialise in Steiner education in their final year continues to increase. Of the 121, over half has come through in the last three years. There are AUT graduates in Steiner schools and early childhood centres throughout the country, but the majority choose to work in state schools/centres, partly due to there not always being Steiner schools where the graduates live. A major advantage of them going into the state system is that they bring new ideas and different approaches into their schools, underpinned by an anthroposophical understanding of the human being. In a few years, when some of them will be heads of EC centres and principals of schools, who knows what this may lead to?
AUT has recently undertaken a study to determine the employment rates of its education graduates in the three months after they graduate. Nationwide, the percentage of primary graduates finding work immediately after graduation is around 20%. With primary students at AUT, the rate is much higher at 60%. For Steiner graduates, the rate is 97%. This figure shows how desirable a Steiner approach is to mainstream institutions and speaks highly of the quality of the students who choose to study Steiner.
As well as undergraduate work, there are currently five post-graduates studying Steiner education at AUT: three at master’s level and two doctorates. We are looking to increase the post-graduate courses we offer as well as professional development opportunities to practising Steiner teachers and introductory courses for mainstream teachers.
Due to me having other commitments in the university, we have asked John Burnett from Taruna to teach two primary education papers in the winter break. It also brings the opportunity for Taruna and AUT to work more closely together than they have currently done. We are grateful to both John and Taruna for making this possible.
Waikato Waldorf School
Here are some news about Waikato which are really worth for everyone knowing.
At the beginning of the year we became a composite school or Area school and we now have a Class 8 (year 9) with 8 children this year. At the moment we are building up the middle school area and we are not planning to go beyond Class 8 for a few more years. Otherwise number are growing, especially in Kindergarten and we have to look at different options to manage that growth in the future.
Seven Dwarfs is a Steiner based, community run Childcare Centre in Hastings, Hawke's Bay. The last year has been both challenging and inspirational. The two big challenges were potential closure due to low child numbers and rising costs, and changes in management. The inspiration came when we were faced with these challenges. The Trust (which governs the Centre) and the new manager pulled together, developing a strategic plan and following through with it to a point where we now have relatively good child numbers, and strong management, leadership and direction. We have really appreciated the help and support from other Steiner initiatives, and are feeling positive about the future of the centre.
Here is an update from the far North...
Oromahoe Kindergarten has been open for one year this midwinter / Matariki. We are delighted that the Ministry has just granted us our full licence. Our roll has expanded to the point where we are completely full two days of the week and comfortably full the other three. We have already started minor alterations in the next door room so we can expand our roll to the full capacity of our licence. We have continued to improve the gardens and play area and a year's growth has had a remarkable effect on the planting. The large eucalyptus stump has been transformed into a brilliant sculpture by gifted carver Pete Hardie. It is a stand out piece of art admired by all visitors and passers by. We are also continuing to strengthen our links with Oromahoe School just across the road.
2013 started well at the Dunedin Rudolf Steiner School. While we have one less kindergarten than in 2012, having closed the third kindergarten in Pine Hill, the number of children attending the main kindergarten has increased. The children have enjoyed the wonderful new loft space that was created by the teachers in one of the kindergarten rooms over the summer.
The College of Teachers has concentrated on artistic and pedagogical study, which has strengthened human relations and brought more focus to the anthroposophical underpinnings of our work. The school remains small, with 37 children in Class 1 to 7, around 35 children enrolled in kindergarten, and 5 playgroups running. We still experience children leaving kindergarten to join mainstream schools.
One focus for our community is our desperate need for at least one permanent teaching space to replace the yurts, whose building consent expires at the end of the year. The Trust's focus has been on this, with a community consultation at the start of the year, which reaffirmed the teachers wish to consolidate on our site at Maia. Fundraising is underway again, after a pause in 2012 when the closure of the kindergarten at Pine Hill meant energy was redirected to the difficult process of reducing our kindergarten teaching staff.
Highlights include a wonderful Spring Festival, a growing craft group, a great consultation meeting with the community, a social event in autumn to officially open our wattle and daub garden shed and our recent Matariki celebration. As always, visits from people from other Steiner Schools to our small community in the far south are always a blessing, as are the opportunities to catch up with colleagues elsewhere across the country!