Steiner charter

That two small kindergartens should be a front-page lead story is news in itself, but also symptomatic of the quandary early-years education is now facing.

The opposition shown by the Department for Education and Employment and other official bodies to our particular educational philosophy is not only short-sighted but also detrimental to the well-being of children at their most susceptible time.

We respect the right of children to experience the world as children and not to be trammelled with the undue pressure of an academic learning that is given, most successfully, later on. This is not a romantic notion but a justified and reasoned assessment of the developmental stages of early childhood when opportunities to foster wonder, curiosity, social tolerance and imagination are at their peak. If these are diminished or negated at this age, the effects can be felt throughout adult life.

Does it not occur to those who have dreamt up the present policy that the experiences of early childhood cannot be divorced from later problems of alienation, anti-social behaviour, the lack of self-confidence, intolerance, even boredom?

CHRISTOPHER CLOUDER Chairman Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship Kidbrooke Park Forest Row East Sussex

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