From the outset of the first Waldorf School in Stuttgart, a clear conceptualisation of governance and leadership was core to its vision and purpose. In Rudolf Steiner’s first articulation, school administration was to have a non-hierarchical social form, independent of government control and involving teachers centrally in decision-making. “The administration of education, from which all culture develops,” he argued “must be turned over to the educators” on the basis that decisions should flow from a deep engagement with the children’s educational needs.
Even in Steiner’s own time the ambition of the ‘republic of teachers’ was problematic and since this time, there has been ongoing evolution of governance and leadership. Steiner Schools have differently grappled with the original principles whilst adapting to changing regulatory, political and cultural contexts. Since 2009, CSS has worked with three administrative groups: Faculty, the School Leadership Team and the Board of Trustees.
Faculty (or College of Teachers) forms the educational heart of the school but no longer carries the weight of decision-making it has in other schools. It holds to Steiner’s original principle that in its meetings, “each teacher speaks of what he himself [sic] has learned in his class and from all the children in it, so that each one learns from the other”. For Faculty, practical business is kept to a minimum and its main responsibilities are:
- Deepening the understanding and commitment of the teachers to Waldorf education through pedagogical and child study as a way of inspiring the teaching and each other.
- Carrying the festival life of the school.
- Carrying a sense for the whole life of the school and being committed to learning and development for the school through workdays, review of meetings and a sensing of the school community’s health.
Faculty is divided into departments (Lower School and Kindergarten) which meet to address the practical matters appertaining to those specific areas of the school. Here local issues are dealt with through dialogue and shared decision-making. Departments are represented on the School Leadership Team to whom they are held accountable.
SCHOOL LEADERSHIP TEAM
Since 2009, CSS has placed core administrative responsibility for the school on an executive group, initially led by a senior teacher, then by the School Business Manager, briefly by a Head of School, and now by the Education Manager. The need for a core school leadership team was recognised to provide professional leadership and management of all educational, financial and administrative responsibilities, to ensure regulatory compliance, and clear accountability for those to the Board of Trustees. SLT provides the requisite structure to promote a secure foundation from which to achieve high standards in all areas of the school’s work, to contribute to the development of and to deliver the school’s vision, to hold lead responsibility for the safeguarding of all pupils, whilst maintaining the school’s unique nurturing and creative ethos. Alongside the Education Manager, the SLT currently comprises the School Business Manager (Bursar), a Senior Lower School teacher (with responsibilities for safeguarding and pupil welfare) and an Early Years lead. It is important to the school’s commitment to the Steiner principles that the SLT remains strongly representative of the Faculty and connected to the classroom experience.
The responsibilities of the SLT are all encompassing but can be summarised as:
- Working with the Board of Trustees and colleagues to develop and implement a shared vision and strategic plan which inspires and motivates pupils, staff and all other members of the school community.
- Assuring educational excellence through the hiring, mentoring, evaluation and dismissal of teachers and staff and developing the appropriate policies and processes for this to take place.
- Monitoring the Quality of Teaching through constant review of policy and its implementation within the Early Years and Lower School departments.
- Enabling a consistent and continuous school-wide focus on pupils’ needs and achievements, using data and benchmarks to monitor progress in every child’s learning, whilst guaranteeing a diverse, inclusive, flexible, Steiner Waldorf curriculum.
- Maintaining the building, estates and material resources of the school.
Overseeing the administrative life and the scheduling of school activities.
- Understanding and developing the school budget together with the Board finance committee.
Holding responsibility for safeguarding and child protection across the school.
SLT is represented by the Education Manager at all meetings of the Board of Trustees but may be supported or deputised by the appropriate individual where required.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
The trustees are accountable in law for all major decisions regarding the school and for its overall strategic direction. They have a duty to
- determine the vision and the strategic direction of the school
- ensure the school meets its statutory requirements
- ensure the financial stability of the school
- know the strengths and weaknesses of the school
- provide support and challenge to the leadership of the school
The board currently operates three committees: Finance; Resources; and Teaching and Learning. Each trustee has their appointed area of responsibility and may sit on one or more committee. Committees meet halftermly and the full board meets termly to review policies, receive committee reports and sign off on key administrative tasks.
Current members of the board:
Chair, Teaching and Learning (Chair), Parent Trustee
Joel lectures in Drama at the Faculty of Education, Cambridge University and is Director of Studies at Homerton College. He is also Founder and Chair of Trustees of Polygon Arts – a charity set up in 2004 to develop community and school arts programmes. He has previously worked for local government in both community engagement and museum development. He has three children who all attend the school.
Deputy Chair, Finance, Resources, Parent Trustee
Hollie is a local businesswoman, former school chef and mother of two sons in Classes 5 and 6 respectively.
Finance (Chair), Resources, External Trustee
Richard served as Chair of Governors and Chair of Finance for 17 years at what was initially his own children’s state primary school, Streatham Wells, which was the centre of their community. The school received an Ofsted rating of satisfactory for its first inspection, and outstanding features for its last. He has recently retired from Queen Mary, University of London where he was Professor of Law having previously been a lecturer, senior lecturer and then Reader at the LSE from 1981 to 2006.
The Trustees currently also constitute the Board of, and hence are elected by the School Association.
THE SCHOOL ASSOCIATION
The school was established in 1993 by the Cambridge Steiner School Project, a charitable company limited by guarantee, known as the School Association. Membership of the Association is open but any application must be countersigned by two existing members. Membership affirms subscription to the Articles of Association (download below) and carries a liability of £1 should the Association be wound up.
The trustees account to the School Association at its Annual General meeting (AGM) where they submit a report on the activities of the previous year and circulate the year’s audited accounts. Any trustees appointed during the year need to have their appointment confirmed at the AGM, and any trustee who seeks re-appointment at the end of their three-year term may be replaced by an alternative elected at the AGM. The School Association, at its AGM, or an Extraordinary General Meeting (called by two members) may (subject to the limitations of Company and Charity law) pass a resolution instructing the trustees on the conduct of future business. Through a special resolution (passed by 75% of the entire membership) the School Association may amend the Articles of Association of the School.