Ideally a Waldorf School would carry the child from Nursery into Kindergarten, through the Class teacher years to Class Eight, and on to Class Twelve, where the pupil at eighteen years of age would pursue his/her chosen path.
In Aberdeen Waldorf School, at present, we have classes that continue to Class Ten, after which our pupils, who wish to continue in higher education, can transfer to local secondary schools; go to another Waldorf School in Britain (e.g. Edinburgh); or study at a further education college. In our Senior School the curriculum is very varied and at present we run a curriculum that is a combination of both Waldorf pedagogy and Scottish Standard Grade Examination course work.
The abolition of Standard Grades after 2012/13 has created an opportunity to offer something different, tailored to the Waldorf curriculum, yet recognised by other institutions as pre-cursors to Higher and College courses. We will no longer need to force our Waldorf curriculum to fit with the Standard Grade syllabus, but be able to demonstrate the Waldorf curriculum is more than equal to that at any other school. The SQA are still issuing guidelines for the different levels of achievement.
How will we do it?
It is early days yet in developing the details but we have pursued the following ideas:
- We will retain all that is great about the Waldorf Main Lesson approach to cross-curricular learning.
- The morning lessons consists of a double main lesson block.
- Main lessons over the three years will be given in: Maths, Geography, History, English, Art, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. We plan to teach each main lesson in each year in three by three week blocks.
- Subject lessons will be given in Maths, English, French and German, Woodwork, Craft and Games.
- We will set continuous assessments and so by the end of class 10 will allow us to demonstrate the achievements of our pupils to the other institutions that they may move to after Class 10. These accreditations will be externally moderated.
- We will forge stronger links with a number of schools in Aberdeen to ensure that pupils have a clear choice of paths to follow beyond Class 10.
What new resources will we have?
- From August 2011 we have taken on a full time science teacher, Gudrun Pryzgoda, she will help develop the science curriculum.
- We will be reviewing what improvements and budget we need to make to our lab and other facilities to support the broader curriculum.
- We will invest in developing our staff and in networking with other schools to develop the syllabus.
- Class 8 have started to see the changes in August 2011, through a different timetable and a wider range of Main Lessons as the year develops.
Pupils of Class 9 and 10 at present follow the Waldorf curriculum in as much as they have a Main Lesson every day from 8.30 am to 10.30 am. Each Main Lesson runs for approximately four weeks and is taught by a specialist teacher.
The rest of the week comprises subject lessons, which are split into non-exam subjects: Woodwork, Games, Religion, and Basic Computer Skills; and Standard Grade Examination subjects: English, French, German, Maths and Biology. Standard Grade Art and Design can be studied after school as an additional, optional exam subject.
Pupils who leave Aberdeen Waldorf School at sixteen and transfer to local authority schools are able to enter SQA Higher Grade Examination courses in almost any of the subjects that they wish, even without an exam pass in the subject at Standard Grade. The Higher Grade Exam course can be taken in one year or spread over a two-year period. Usually pupils take between three to five subjects at Intermediate and/or Higher Grade. The advantage of a Waldorf curriculum is that it maintains a wide subject base and allows pupils to make decisions about subjects to be continued, when they are a little more mature.
We have a good relationship with the local secondary schools and have found that pupils transferring to these schools in the Fifth Year (S5) have done so successfully. Obviously, as with any transition, it takes time to make adjustments. Our pupils usually make a very good impression on their new teachers. On moving schools, many of our former pupils comment on how much they appreciate what they have gained from their time at the Waldorf School.