Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Steiner Update

Following on from my recent outline (inspired by Andy Lewis) of the issues with Steinerism now that some Steiner schools are to be funded by the taxpayer, here are a few more notes on the subject.

Andy Lewis has done some more posts:

What Every Parent Should Know About Steiner-Waldorf Schools

Steiner Schools and Risk Factors for Child Abuse

Steiner Schools: An Alternative to Education.

The BBC Report on Frome Steiner Academy

How Steiner Schools Justify their Occult Pedagogy.

Anti-immunisation policies

A judge in Australia has ordered a parent to immunise her child rather than treat her with homeopathic alternatives (that don't work, obviously). The child attends a Steiner school down under:

[The mother] told the court that she adhered to a ''simple and healthy way of life'', that included eating organic food, using non-toxic cleaning products and sending the child to a Rudolph Steiner school where the toys were made from natural products such as wool, wax and silk.
Steiner organisations are not explicitly anti-vax, but use the bogus parental choice 'code' to flag up to parents who are anti-vax that they do not immunise. For example, here's the statement from the European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education:

We wish to state unequivocally that opposition to immunisation per se, or resistance to national strategies for childhood immunisation in general, forms no part of our specific educational objectives. We believe that a matter such as whether or not to inoculate a child against communicable disease should be a matter of parental choice. Consequently, we believe that families provide the proper context for such decisions to be made on the basis of medical, social and ethical considerations, and upon the perceived balance of risks. Insofar as schools have any role to play in these matters, we believe it is in making available a range of balanced information both from the appropriate national agencies and qualified health professionals with expertise in the field. Schools themselves are not, nor should they attempt to become, determiners of decisions regarding these matters.

Is it fair to conclude from such anodyne statements that Steiner Waldorf schools follow anti-vaccination policies? I think so, because obviously childhood vaccination is a process that can achieve its aims, to protect the population, better through schools. This appears to be something else that Steiner schools are not keen to advertise, exactly, but obviously it gets out. For example, I can't find a statement of their policy on immunisation on the Steiner Academy, Hereford website. There might be one, but it's well hidden if so. There's no mention in the latest prospectus. But we can see from this Freedom of Information request from Michelle Brook (I think) that the only school in the Hereford Primary Care Trust area which refuses to allow clinicians or school nurses to administer the HPV vaccine is the Steiner Academy:

So the Steiner Academy 'states that it is not their policy to offer children immunisation within the school".

The Government's own website says:
Immunisation is the most important way of protecting individuals and the community from vaccine preventable infectious diseases. it's odd that it sees fit to fund schools that do not support the immunisation programme. But, hey-ho, Governments are strange beasts, and Tory ones more so. The latest Vaccine Update from the Government says this, in response to certain faith schools not administering the vaccine:

With the switch over from Cervarix HPV vaccine to Gardasil less than a month away, there have been reports in the press that some faith schools are refusing to immunise their eligible girls against cervical cancer. Furthermore, most of the PCTs in which these schools fall, have not informed the girls’ GPs that the girls have not been immunised (see, for example, web link 1).
It’s important that girls are immunised against the two types of human papillomavirus that cause over 70% of the cases of cervical cancer before they become sexually active. Leaving it until they are over 16 is putting them at increased risk of infection. 
If any eligible girl wants and consents to the vaccination, they are entitled to it and if the school won’t administer it, the PCT is responsible for making alternative arrangements – such as contacting the girl’s GP surgery or setting up their own clinics. It’s preferable that girls have their vaccinations with their parents’ consent but this is not essential if the girls fully understand what they are consenting to. 
It is incumbent upon PCTs to keep GPs informed of the vaccination status of the eligible girls in their administrative area (see web link 2). Failure to do so could have very serious consequences for the girls concerned.

It's a matter of grave concern that we are not only allowing schools to avoid this policy, but are actually funding some of them. Unfortunately I foresee easily avoided heartache resulting from this misguided commitment to parental choice.


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