ALTERNATIVE DEMAND: Gold Coast students commute to Byron Shire Steiner Schools. Pictured, children at Shearwater Steiner School's annual Spring Fair.
ALTERNATIVE DEMAND: Gold Coast students commute to Byron Shire Steiner Schools. Pictured, children at Shearwater Steiner School's annual Spring Fair. Contributed

Parents put newborns on Steiner waiting lists

PUTTING your child on a local Steiner school waiting list at birth is no guarantee your child will be granted admission.

Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School enrolment officer, Yvette Thackray, said admission to the sought-after alternative school was based on a number of criteria.

The school takes into account a child’s ‘temperament and gender’ in order to ‘craft a balanced group’, before factoring in the child’s chronological position on the waiting list. However, she said the 370-student school could not meet demand.

“Due to town planning restrictions we cannot increase our classes,” she said.

“There is no guarantee that if you put your baby down on the waiting list at birth, they will gain a place,” she said.

“We have had parents try to put their unborn babies on the list,” she said.

Local over-demand is exacerbated by the fact that there is no Steiner school at the Gold Coast.

Primary and secondary students from the Gold Coast are commuting 80km to Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School and 75km to Shearwater Mullumbimby Steiner school.

Ms Thackray confirmed the Steiner school had Gold Coast families “commuting or re-locating for our school”.

The over-demand for Steiner places was not helped when the planned Orchard Waldorf School failed secure a lease at Southport in September. The school had at least 150 Gold Coast families who expressed interest.

There are nearly 1000 students in the Byron Shire alone enrolled in the Steiner school system.

“I would call our waiting list more of a lead list,” said Ms Thackray.

“In Term 2 we give prospective families a list of questions in order to make a short-list.

“Priority is given to children with siblings enrolled at the school as well as families who are actively seeking a Steiner education.” she said.

Steiner schools aim to offer a style of education focusing on the development of children morally and spiritually rather than just academically.

Ms Thackray said Cape Byron Steiner School’s small size and holistic approach to education was part of the appeal. “It is also a very beautiful environment,” she said.

“We also have a policy whereby the students have the one teacher throughout their schooling. This means that they have another significant person in their life.” she said.

There are 1200 Steiner schools, also known as Waldorf schools, in 60 countries worldwide.

At Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School, fees for kindergarten students are $5048 per year and go up to $7636 for Year 11 students.

At Shearwater Mullumbimby Steiner School, fees start at $4700 for kindergarten and peak at $7800 in Year 10.



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