State should pay for choice
MR Hannan is right in at least one respect (Free schools are a free ride, Letters, March 1). Parents are indeed delighted that the Government is willing to pay for Steiner education. Why wouldn't they be? Parents in nearly all European countries and the rest of the English-speaking world get Steiner education for free, provided by their state, just as Andy Hannan gets his choice paid for. Why should Exeter parents who want Steiner education be treated as second class because they are not living in Germany, Holland, Scandinavia or the USA, or because they make different choices to those of Mr. Hannan?
Why should choice be extended only to those who can afford to pay for private education? For many years local authorities have enjoyed a monopoly in their right to set up new state schools. They now appear to have lost this monopoly as successive governments look for the diversity of provision that may yet give our children what they deserve.
Exeter is fortunate to be acquiring a Steiner Academy.
It confirms the city's position as a place of innovation and forward thinking. It will not be based on an "occult" or hidden philosophy: check "anthroposophy" on Amazon and place your order.
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The only "belief system" that has a place in a school worthy of the name is the belief that children must be educated to make their own choices and find their own way in life, learning to question everything.
We must all make our own minds up about the Government's wider educational policies, but next time we read about what can be learned from the excellent school systems of countries such as Finland (with its many Steiner schools), we might wonder what that success is based on. The answer, in a word, is choice.
Principal designate, Steiner Academy Exeter