21st of May 2009

letter delivered by hand


To the Trustees of the Titirangi Rudolf Steiner School

We are writing to express our worry and disappointment about the behavioural issues in class 3/4 and the continued reluctance of the College of Teachers to create an environment where physical, and emotional hurting of one child by another is really prohibited by a clear set of procedures.

Having waited over a term for a review of the published procedures, they were finally published last week.  Unfortunately there is nothing transparent that parents and children can understand to be the actual consequence of intentional physical hurting, or any clear plan, easy for the whole community to understand and that parents and children can see working.

This is in a week in which one child has been removed from the class by his mother who has lost faith in the school to that extent, apparently after years of trying to get action on this issue.

Within the last week, another child has been pulled by the feet off the monkey bars in the school playground in such a way that she fell onto her back, hitting her head on a wooden post.

In spite of the avowed clear intention to make the school accountable for its response to such incidents, the pupil who did this was merely asked to apologise without smirking, in spite of a long career of such ‘incidents’ and ‘accidents’.

The Steiner School advertises itself as a safe environment for children and yet intentional hurting, including ridiculing appearance, name calling and physically violent acts such as punching, kicking, pushing, poking, are not uncommon.

The School is not fulfilling its own publicity, much less its obligations under various Acts including the Health and Safety Act. 

It is our belief that Titirangi Steiner School is not facing up to its responsibilities in the real world.

Instead, the Anthroposophical Impulse is invoked as the reason that the school cannot come into line with the rest of the world on developing (and possibly adapting) a policy of zero tolerance of intentional hurting.

In reality, however, the lofty ideals, the stated belief that enforced discipline is itself violent to children, and the belief in the inherent goodness of the child, are being used as an excuse to allow certain children to dominate completely the physical, mental, emotional and soul space of other vulnerable children who must ‘toughen up’, or leave.

We believe strongly that it is time to name the bullying that takes place within the Steiner School, which there is good reason to believe has been going on unchecked for perhaps decades, and to move collectively to stop it and insist on the freedom of all the children to the safe space which, by law, it is the school’s duty to provide.

We would like an urgent response to this letter please, with a clear indication of what steps will be immediately taken to rectify this extremely damaging situation.

Yours sincerely

Angel Garden and Steve Paris