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Dublin: 9 °C Tuesday 18 December, 2018
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Ireland now has its first (official) Steiner National School

Now, the next step for Mol an Óige is to get out of the prefabs…

Image: classroom via Shutterstock

THE DEPARTMENT OF Education has given official recognition to a Steiner school for the first time.

Steiner education takes a holistic approach to teaching children, moving away from a reliance on textbooks and with a focus on critical thinking skills.

A number of Steiner schools are active in Ireland, some with temporary recognition while others are private, but Mol an Óige in Ennistymon, County Clare is the first to become a fully-fledged national school.

Sinead Barrett, acting principal, told TheJournal.ie that since the school was founded in 2008 inspectors have been closely monitoring its progress.

“The Department have acknowledged that we do things in a slightly different way, but that we’re still teaching the required curriculum,” she said.

Interest  growing

Barrett said there are now 136 pupils in the school, with interest from parents growing each year.

She described Steiner education as consisting of a ‘delayed approach to formal learning’.

“The children wouldn’t be sitting down to reading and writing until senior infants. All the learning in junior infants is through arts and crafts, and then as they move up through the school there is an equal emphasis on art as well as academic. There’s also a lot of active learning.”

She said that textbooks aren’t excluded from the classroom, but they wouldn’t ‘overly rely on them’.

They would note activities in their own books, and then in the senior years they would use textbooks more to prepare themselves for secondary school.

Barrett added that once at secondary level, students who took in Steiner education are considered “interested learners… thinking outside of the book.”

With formal recognition, Mol an Óige now intends to apply to have a school building constructed, having relied on prefabs for the past six years.

Read: How parents are trying to raise €2 million on the internet to build a school in Clare >

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Nicky Ryan

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