The Iona School
School Curriculum Policy
Produced using the following texts
Avison K. 2004 “A Handbook for Waldorf Class Teachers” Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship.
Rawson M. & Avison K (eds) 2014 “The Tasks and Content of the Steiner Waldorf Curriculum” Steiner Waldorf Education/Floris Books.
The Iona School follows the educational and curriculum indications given by Rudolf Steiner which have also been adopted by approximately one thousand other schools worldwide. The College of Teachers works with these indications in order to meet the educational and social needs of pupils at their various stages of emotional, intellectual and physical development.
The College of Teachers has decided that “The Tasks and Content of the Steiner Waldorf Curriculum” Edited by Avison and Rawson (Steiner Waldorf Education) will be the standard reference text for lesson planning within the Iona School.
The Steiner Waldorf Curriculum is not prescriptive but is experienced as a source of inspiration which stimulates the interest, enthusiasm and creativity of the teachers who, in turn, aim to stimulate interest and enthusiasm in their pupils.
The Pedagogical Meeting is the forum in which teachers:
• study and discuss aspects of the curriculum
• share questions and insights with colleagues
• consider the needs of the children in our care in relation to curriculum indications
• share and evaluate lesson plans in the light of curriculum indications
• identify possible improvement and development of the educational provision at the Iona School – any recommendations will be considered by the College of Teachers
The curriculum reflects and supports the developing consciousness of the pupils at each stage of their life in school. It is concerned with the emerging unique individuality of each child and his/her connection with the world.
The Steiner Waldorf curriculum is an invaluable resource for teachers who are working to support children in the processes of awakening to knowledge of themselves, of feeling a connection to the world and to finding their bearings within it.
Each day is complete in itself; no conscious demands are made on the memory of the child from one day to the next.
Regular daily, weekly and seasonal activities provide the child with a secure context for life within which they can engage in undirected, self- initiated imaginative free play. This provides the basis for their creative learning during the class period and also throughout life.
See the Kindergarten’s Curriculum Statement.
Once children leave the kindergarten to start in the main school, they have a class teacher who will usually stay with them for their remaining time at the Iona School. The class teacher is responsible for the preparing and teaching the Main Lesson.
The Main Lesson is central to Steiner Waldorf Education. It is organised into subject blocks which are taught in depth for about four weeks each. A new topic is introduced in each block but other subjects are woven into the Main Lesson which is taught at the beginning of the day and lasts for two hours. Each Main Lesson has several components and may include practical artistic activities (modelling and painting), music, speech, singing, movement and oral and written work. It is an artistic and integrated whole in which the specific curriculum content for a particular age group is brought to the children.
From the beginning of the Iona School project we have worked with combined classes, each class comprising two academic year groups.
In order to fully integrate our combined classes for the main lesson work, the younger group leave the kindergarten sooner than is usual in Steiner Waldorf settings. Class One children go to their class teacher in the September after their sixth birthday, the beginning of the academic year. The younger group, instead of completing the whole year in the kindergarten, join them during the course of the Autumn Term. The children are altogether as a Transition/Class One by the end of the term.
To facilitate further the development of an integrated group, the Class One curriculum is not begun until the Spring Term. Teachers then continue to change the curriculum year at this time. Thus, throughout the school, the curriculum year coincides with the calendar year, not the academic year. This ensures that all children experience some aspects of the curriculum specifically aimed at meeting particular developmental thresholds at the appropriate time.
The Iona School is a primary school. After their time in kindergarten, pupils going through the school will be members of Classes T/1, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, 4/5. At the end of Class 4/5’s academic year the Class 5 (Year 6) pupils may leave Iona to take up their secondary education. In the next academic year, last year’s Class 4 pupils will become Class 5 (Year 6) and embark upon their final year at the Iona School. Throughout the history of the school there have been a significant number of parents who have opted for their children to remain at Iona for as long as possible. This means that the final class, although reduced in size, will be a Class 5/6 (years 6 and 7).
Classes 1 and 2 (Years 2 and 3)
For these children only two Main Lesson subjects alternate: i.e. literacy and numeracy. During a literacy Main Lesson number work is consciously set completely aside, allowing it to be “forgotten”.
The same applies for literacy during a number Main Lesson. When the subject returns it is found that it has taken hold in a new way during the “fallow period”.
In Class 3 (Year 4)
The children become more self-conscious and so begin to experience themselves as being separate from the world around them and so they are able to learn about it in a practical way. Main Lessons in measuring, weighing, farming and house building give strength and confidence at a time when children can feel vulnerable and uncertain.
At this time, the Old Testament Stories are the basis for literacy development.
In Class 4 (Year 5)
Now the children have taken a further step in their development and the curriculum broadens further. They learn about their locality in Home Surroundings (the basis for Geography and History) and of the relationship between the Human Being and the Animal Kingdom.
The stories of Norse Mythology provide the basis for literacy and help the pupils’ adjust to their dawning awareness of the failings of people around them (the Gods are not always good and sometimes act out of self-interest). Common Fractions are taught in numeracy.
In Class 5 (Year 6)
Further study of mythology – Ancient Indian, Persian, Babylonian, Egyptian and Greek – continues to foster literacy skills and also supports the pupils’ developing consciousness of the sequence of time. Study of the Plant Kingdom with its yearly cycle further enhances this. Decimals are taught at this stage. Geography broadens to cover the British Isles.
In Class 6 (Year 7)
The pupils’ concept of Time is becoming established and now the History of the Ancient Greeks and Romans is taught. The Roman mastery of the earth and establishment of Law and Order meets the children in a positive way. The stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table give a moral counterbalance, of inner idealism and justice.
The geometry of the Hexagon is introduced at this period when the bony system of the human being is becoming harder (the cells of the skeleton are hexagonal). A study is made of geology, of the formation of the earth’s rocks and of the processes of erosion, deposition etc. Percentages, Simple Interest, and Profit and Loss are taught at this stage. Geography expands to cover the Continent of Europe.
The remainder of the school day, for class children, is taken up with lessons in which the skills taught in the main lesson are practised and improved (Practice Lessons) and also with subject lessons in Art, Eurythmy, (from Class 3), German, Handwork, Music, Religion and Singing.
Art: Painting lessons involve the teaching of the techniques which enable the pupils to improve their handling of wet-on wet water colours. In the early stages, pupils practise colour exercises and later they paint using themes from main lessons.
Eurythmy: Eurythmy harnesses the genius of music and Story (poems, fables, Fairy tales) to teach the children about the ordering powers of sound. With growing differentiation they learn an alphabet of movement (shapes the arms perform and flow forms which guide them as a whole group in the room) to assist them in their process of individuation, while becoming ever more sensitive to the social organism of the whole class.
Games: In Classes 1 and 2 children practise clapping rhythms, simple chasing games and playground activities such as skipping and hop scotch. The emphasis is on social cohesion, coordination and balance.
In Classes 3 – 5 chasing games form the basis for exercise and social interaction when the games lesson is timetabled as a separate lesson. As part of their study of Ancient Greece Class 5 pupils take part in the annual Steiner Olympics. They learn how to throw javelin and discus, practise high and long jump and running.
German: is currently offered to all classes, taught initially through games, songs and poems; reading, writing and grammar are introduced from Class Four.
Handwork lessons: develop a whole range of skills beginning with knitting in Class 1. Crochet is taught in Class 2 and in later years pupils learn such skills such as felting and dyeing, sewing, embroidery and clothes making.
Music: begins with singing, listening games, recorder and simple percussion instruments. Notation proper begins in Class 4. Singing is an integral part of all lessons, including rounds and eventually part singing.
Religion: This lesson is timetabled for Class 1/2 upwards.
In some Steiner Waldorf Schools it is referred to as, “The Free Religion Lesson” because it is non doctrinal, non dogmatic and non sectarian. The content is appropriate for children of all faiths.
For the younger children (Class 1/2) Fairy or Folk tales are often use, showing the battle between the forces of good and evil, in which good triumphs. The children experience characters battling to overcome adversity, often struggling with their own weaknesses to achieve their goal.
For children over 9 years the content of the lesson is often biographical or autobiographical but sometimes appropriate fiction is used to explore the same themes in a more conscious way.
Singing: is an integral part of kindergarten life, every main lesson and German lesson. In addition to this, children from Class 2 onwards join together twice a week to practise seasonal/festival songs and to develop their singing technique.