Here are some answers to the questions most commonly posed by prospective Parents and Guardians:
Is there value placed on Literacy and Numeracy in the early years?
Literacy and Numeracy are highly valued. They are vital foundational capabilities that enable learning across a range of subjects. In the early years, our School takes the approach that a strong foundation provides the optimal long-term results. In Kindergarten, we focus on phonological awareness as the basis for Literacy. Phonological awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds in language. Initial instruction of phonics in kindergarten is consolidated in Class One. Our early Literacy instruction is embedded in a rich, imaginative oral language program. Our students recite nursery rhymes and poetry, perform plays and hear a range of breath-taking stories, lovingly narrated. They learn to deeply comprehend and appreciate language. Number sense, as the basis for Numeracy, is developed in Kindergarten on a daily basis, through instructional activities, games and hands-on practical tasks. In Class One we introduce formal mathematical operations.
The Steiner approach is developmentally appropriate and yields long-term rewards. Our students experience their learning in Literacy and Numeracy to be alive, imaginative, challenging and joyful- not dreary and stressful. They are not ‘burnt out’ and de-motivated in the early years, as often happens in high-pressure environments. Quite the opposite- they are curious, confident, inspired and very keen to learn!
How are the students assessed?
Assessment of student learning is a key responsibility of all teachers. The word ‘assessment’ comes from the Latin word ‘assidere’, meaning ‘to sit beside’. This is a helpful way to view student assessment- it is the act of teachers and students working together, in an ongoing, formative way, to gauge how student growth is progressing. This approach is individually tailored, responding to both challenges and strengths. We look at our students’ wholistic development, drawing on the benefits of rich, long-lasting relationships over the years with the teachers. We also measure student progress against the standards and outcomes of the NSW Australian . Curriculum.
Do the students sit NAPLAN?
All schools in Australia are currently required to offer the NAPLAN tests in Years 3,5,7 and 9. As well as offering the tests, we inform parents and guardians of their right to withdraw their child from the tests if they philosophically object to it. In the primary years, we do not see that the NAPLAN testing results offer much valuable additional information. This is due to the fact that our careful formative assessment measures gather accurate information on wholistic student learning in an ongoing, timely way. In addition, the NAPLAN tests do not align with our views on optimal assessment processes for young learners.
In the high school, we view the tests as a useful tool for students to practise important exam-related skills, such as time management. However, we also acknowledge that these tests may impact significantly on student wellbeing and in such cases, a formal withdrawal may be worth parents and guardians considering.
What are the teaching and learning standards?
All teachers at our school are fully qualified and registered to teach with The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA). In addition, our teachers are required to build on their qualifications with ongoing study of Steiner education.
Our learning standards are aligned with the standards and outcomes of the NSW Australian Curriculum. These apply to all NSW schools.
How are special needs supported?
If your child has special needs, these are discussed at length during the enrolment process. Our Enrolment Policy complies with all relevant disability legislation. Support needs that have been identified are used to develop Individual Learning Plans for students. This may result in students receiving extra help individually, or in small groups. It may result in them receiving extension opportunities if they are demonstrating high academic achievement. Adjustments that are made to student learning plans are developed consultatively with parents and guardians.
Our high school students enjoy the benefits of support at our ‘Any Time Learning Assistance Space’ (ATLAS), where they can have specific questions addressed.
Is this an Arts School?
The arts have a central role in our pedagogy. They are not marginalised as an ‘add-on’; they are incorporated meaningfully across all subject areas. It is our view that the arts creatively communicate to deep levels of our shared humanity, helping us to make meaning, to celebrate and appreciate life. Artistic experience is fulfilling. It is enjoyable, deeply satisfying and contributes to wellbeing. In the primary years, our students learn to paint, to draw, to knit, sew, weave and crochet, to play musical instruments, perform plays, write stories, to sing together. We methodically build on skills in a well-designed, purposeful program well into the high school. Most visitors to our School are highly impressed by the creativity, beauty, pride and attention to detail evident in the students’ work.
Is the School religious?
We are an inclusive School and welcome families of all denominations as well as atheists, agnostics and those who are still wondering! Our School is non-denominational and does not offer instruction in one particular religion. Instead, we draw upon diverse literary traditions associated with the world‘s leading religions and mythologies. We embed these in the rich narrative elements of the curriculum. This approach gives students a sense of cultural appreciation and provides perspectives that they will eventually integrate into their own individual ethical framework. Our philosophy nurtures a sense of the divine- at the core of each human being and at work in the universe. We communicate this deeper dimension in a way that is respectful, non-prescriptive and open-minded. Central to our philosophy is a practice of gratitude.
What is the School’s approach to discipline?
High expectations help students grow to fulfil their potential. Although Steiner schools are commonly associated with a ‘laissez-faire’ approach to behaviour, this is not correct and not in keeping with our philosophy. We hold that firm, fair boundaries give students the security and guidance needed to uphold the values upheld at the School. In some ways, our approach could be viewed as ‘strict’. An example- when we ask for silence, it means that there is absolute, respectful silence.
We avoid using rewards and punishments to redirect student behaviour. Instead, we draw upon the strength of the teacher- student relationships to move towards shared aims. At the ‘pointy end’, we apply our Student Discipline Policy firmly and fairly in order to support the positive, healthy and kind culture at our School.
How does the School respond to bullying?
There is zero tolerance to bullying behaviours. They are responded to swiftly and fairly.
Students know that kindness is the ‘golden rule’ at our School. It is our experience that any student behaviour that is mean, targeted or aggressive is quickly identified and ‘nipped in the bud’ due to the strength of the relationships in the School community. If any serious instances of bullying arise, our Student Discipline Policy is applied.
How are wellbeing and mental health issues supported?
It is the quality of our relationships that offers a bedrock of support to our students. When wellbeing issues arise, these are communicated, as appropriate, between students, parents and guardians and staff. Supportive plans are developed consultatively. We engage Wellbeing Officers who are available for students to book in and have a chat with. However, this is no replacement for professional psychological services which are sometimes needed. In such cases, the School consults with parents and guardians closely to support any student in a challenging or crisis situation. We view the creative, health-giving elements of our pedagogy and the cohesion of our community as helpful components in the management of wellbeing issues.
Is there a uniform?
Our high school students are required to wear full school uniform. This uniform provides for a variety of flexible options and can be purchased at our uniform shop. There is no uniform in the primary school, however a dress code applies.
How do the students use technology at school?
We have a ‘Bring Your Own Laptop’ program in the high school. Technology for learning is used judiciously and is not the central focus of our lessons. We highly value human interaction! We embrace very limited use of laptops, iPads etc. in the upper primary years. However, our approach is not ‘anti-technology’. We strongly hold the view that technology is a valuable servant and terrible master. The addictive nature of digital technologies is well-researched as a contributor to sedentary behaviours and mental health issues. For this reason, we limit technology in the primary years and educate for responsible usage in the upper years. Our high school students are skilled and capable users of digital technologies.
Are students allowed to use their phones at school?
Students do not access their mobile phones during school hours. Students’ phones are sealed in Yondr pouches at 9:00 am, then unsealed at 3:00 pm. This means that the students spend their break times interacting with, and conversing with their friends. We believe that it is vitally important for students to be physically active and social at school rather than using break times to engage with social media. Interestingly, student feedback is highly supportive of our approach. The students seem to know what’s good for them!
What is the school’s advice for media usage in the home?
For many good reasons, we strongly advocate screen-free leisure activities. This does not mean that you need to sign your child up for formal cello lessons (although this is a great thing to do). It can be as simple as encouraging your child to go outside, to spend time in the garden, to bake, knit, build cubbies, walk the dog, go skateboarding, go bike-riding, walk along the beach etc. Real whole-body activities (as opposed to digital, sedentary activities) help develop strong, outward focussed -not self- obsessed- young people. This approach is health-giving on physical, emotional and mental levels. We also encourage our parents and guardians to carefully consider the appropriateness of films and other digital content that their child is exposed to. We strongly advise that they take care to avoid their child viewing violent, sexually explicit and advertising-laden content as this can negatively impact on the wellbeing of developing young people.
Is the Central Coast Steiner School intending to expand to Years 11 and 12?
Yes! From 2025, Central Coast Steiner School will be offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) to our students for Years 11 and Year 12.
Our school has decided to offer the IBDP because it is closely aligned with the Steiner philosophy. The International Baccalaureate Diploma is highly valued by universities and employers in Australia and across the world. It provides a course of study for Years 11 and 12 that qualifies students for an ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank).
The IB Diploma explicitly fosters creativity, service and critical thinking. Global perspectives are integrated across subject areas. Students are supported to reach their full potential as knowledgeable, compassionate, and engaged global citizens who actively strive to make the world a better place. See: https://www.ibo.org/programmes/diploma-programme/
Will this School prepare my child for the ‘real world’?
Absolutely. Our students are confident, resilient individuals who learn to love learning. What better preparation is there for meeting the needs of the ‘real world’? Some parents may be concerned that the ‘real’ world can be harsh and students need to be prepared to meet it. The method we apply for strengthening young people to meet the challenges of life is to offer them a deeply nurturing environment, one that provides stable relationships within a healthy community. Our students learn to aim high, to think creatively, to value relationships and to diligently develop their capacities so that they can be of service to the world, capable of making a positive difference. This is ‘real world’ readiness.