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More than ever, the well-being of school children in Scotland is paramount. The lockdown has brought months of anxiety, uncertainty, no structured learning and no face to face interaction with children outside the family home. At Edinburgh Steiner School, emphasis is placed on the well-being, learning and creative thinking of the child. It is a crucial time for parents and guardians to consider the benefits to an alternative to mainstream education.

Still the largest and fastest growing global educational movement, now in its centenary year, Steiner schools typically experience a high number of disaffected pupils needing a more integrated, holistic educational approach; one that recognises them as individuals with different thinking and learning styles. In a recent interview celebrating the School’s 81st year, former pupil and Scottish actor, Sam Heughan praised his time at Edinburgh Steiner School for the benefits of a trusting system that allows freedom and the exploration of individuality,  “I always just felt like it was going to be okay. The Steiner education gives you this understanding about the world; that you are not being channelled into one direction of education. Your life isn’t panned out.”

Another key area that is debated often in the welfare of children is the effect of transitioning between primary and secondary.  Last year an international study by Dundee University commissioned by the Scottish government provided “robust evidence” of a deterioration in educational performance when pupils start at secondary school. At ESS the transition is seamless.  Formal education begins at age 6 and it’s a fluid experience from Class 1 to Class 8. Class 8 is considered a transitional year where pupils undertake a year-long independent project before entering Upper School in preparation for their exams. This solo work is balanced by a full length theatrical performance.  Pupils also have the same teacher from Class 1-8. Whilst specialist teachers deliver certain subjects, from the start of formal education in Class 1 until the end of Class 8, the Class Teacher has overall responsibility and care for the class, which is extremely rare in other schools.

In a rapidly changing world, this provides a haven for continuity and stability and allows the teacher to develop a thorough understanding of the needs of each child. It also means a close and supportive relationship is developed between the Class Teacher and the parents/guardians. 

There is a growing need for creative solutions to meet an ever increasing array of social, political, economical and natural challenges; and yet fewer and fewer opportunities for young people to practice the necessary skillsets they will need. Steiner education aims to develop the thinking activity that has the capacity to find solutions rather than only knowing facts, so that pupils can begin to ask questions that have never been asked before and open new findings. 

Nick Brett, Chair of Management, comments, “At Steiner’s, teachers teach to the whole child, addressing all the multiple intelligences, including emotional literacy and kinaesthetic learning, while bringing into balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain. This develops analytical, logical and reasoning skills as education has always done, but also focuses on the development of imagination, creativity, memory, and flexible-thinking – skills highly prized in today’s society. You cannot teach a future society providing whatever life throws at it, but you can educate it to recognise the need to collaborate with neighbours, to maintain resilience, to be philanthropic, to cultivate resources that become crucial elements of life, for instance right now during COVID. Resources are formed out of an ethos and concern for well-being and creative thinking.’


Media Enquiries: 
For further information, images or to arrange an interview with Edinburgh Steiner College of Teachers, please contact:
Claire Cunningham at or 07807215174.

To watch the Edinburgh Steiner School and Sam Heughan interview please visit


Edinburgh Steiner School 

60-64 Spylaw Road
EH10 5BR

0131 337 3410

It has long been an ambition of Edinburgh Steiner School that access to a Steiner education should not depend solely on the ability to pay fees. Many pupils benefitted from the assisted places scheme. It is still a Partner Provider for the government's Early Years and Childcare Scheme, and is the only independent nursery attached to a school considering the 1,140 Hours scheme, that has been postponed until August 2021 due to the covid crisis. Its secondary school fees are lowermost compared to the 35 independent schools in Scotland. It also distributes 6% of the previous year's net fees in bursaries and hardship grants to help families meet up to 40% of the fees.

About Edinburgh Steiner School and Waldorf Education:

In September 1919 the first Waldorf school was established for the children of workers at the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Company by Rudolf Steiner at the behest of the owners Emil and Berta Most. Today it is the largest, and fastest growing, global educational movement, with over 1,100 Waldorf schools and 2,000 kindergartens around the world. The UK has 35 schools based on the internationally-recognised curriculum, known as Steiner schools. 

Founded in 1939, Edinburgh Steiner School is proud to be part of this international network of schools, providing a curriculum which is as innovative and relevant as it was 100 years ago. It offers an all-through, holistic, education from 2 – 18 years old, with a roll of up to 360 pupils. In contrast to other independent schools in the Capital, there is no entrance exam; and pupils start formal learning at age 6 – 7 years old. It is in the Top 15 Scottish Schools taking Highers. The cornerstone of a Steiner education is the Main Lesson Programme, offering 100 topics over a pupil’s school career. It became an educational flagship with the introduction of the Curriculum for Excellence, owing to its broad curriculum. 10 years on, it is now a centre for the delivery of Integrated Education, an innovative suite of portfolio-based qualifications offering an alternative educational passport to examinations. Nobel Laureate, Thomas Sudhof is Patron of Acknowledging Creative Thinking Skills (ACTS) project, from which the qualifications derived. 

The Steiner education offers an alternative to the mainstream curriculum and instead emphasises intrinsic learning and the development of responsible free-thinking individuals who can contribute to society with initiative and purpose. 

By making available a variety of subjects, from philosophy to astronomy, the vastness of what the world has to offer and the breadth of opportunities available are brought into context for the pupils to explore and pursue. Speaking at the Waldorf 100 celebrations in Silicon Valley in September, Nobel Laureate in Neuroscience, and Waldorf graduate, Dr Thomas Sudhof comment’s on why this type of education is more crucial than ever before:

“The emphasis in Waldorf education on implicit learning – on the arts, on the things that you do manually, in language – is a very good thing because that emphasises the strengths of the child during that stage of development. More that ever nowadays, where things are changing, where the way we interact with the world has become so much more indirect because of new technologies, where we need to cope with a completely different sensory environment, this type of education is more important than ever”. 

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