Steiner parents to take fight to court

22nd February 2008 at 00:00

A parents' group is threatening legal action to stop a school being forced to teach their children to read and write before the age of six.

Wynstones, an independent Steiner Waldorf school near Stroud in Gloucestershire, is poised to be a test case in a bitter battle over the so-called "nappy curriculum".

Parents wrote to the Department for Children, Schools and Families in December asking for permanent exemption from the framework.

They have now received a reply. The letter said that a consultation last year had found many respondents opposed to permanent opt-outs. Exemptions were, therefore, only being allowed on a short-term basis. But individual parents would be allowed to apply for exemptions if they could show the framework was in conflict with their beliefs.

John Dougherty, of the Wynstones group, said: "I do not think you can call this a response from the department. The idea of exemptions for individual children is daft. It sets up the idea of the kindergarten having to run two conflicting educational philosophies in the same classroom."

The framework includes learning goals stipulating that, by the age of five, children should be beginning to read, write, add and subtract.

The Wynstones parents argue that they chose Steiner education because it rejects three Rs teaching until the age of six.

The TES revealed three weeks ago how parents at Wynstones were unhappy about the early years foundation framework for children under six, which is due to come into force in September.

The group plan to challenge the framework under human rights law.

Phonics focus, page 19.

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