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ESS Starts The Academic Year With Record Roll

An increasing number of parents are seeking a school that takes a distinctly different standpoint on education, following the pandemic providing parents with a window into their child’s learning.


Edinburgh Steiner School begins a new academic year with a record number of pupils since the School was founded in 1939 with just eight children. Our all-through school is part of the largest international network of independent schools, in an array of cultures from Durban to Darwin, Silicon Valley to Shefa’amr, Embu to Edinburgh; positioned as the only Steiner Waldorf school in the Capital.


307 pupils were on the school register today. With one Class per age group, the cohort capped at 25 pupils, and a flourishing need for a dozen classrooms that can accommodate this maximum class size, our ambitious campus development project, Growing Spaces, aims to create inspirational curriculum spaces to provide the best learning and working environment for our pupils and staff, and meet the requirements of a growing roll that strives towards a threshold of 380 pupils.


Over £0.6m has been invested in expanding the Waldorf architecture over the past five years – converting two dilapidated 19th Century coach houses into 21st Century classrooms. This year, efforts continue to raise a further £200,000 to create a purpose-built space for our youngest pupils in the coming years.



Our two Seedlings playgroups, introduced at the beginning of the year, are now accepting applications for 2023/24. Open to pupils aged two and above and attended independently, the children are often quite familiar with the Waldorf environment, having frequented an Adult & Child group with a parent, grandparent or childminder.


After turning 3.5 years old, a child can move on to Kindergarten with up to sixteen children of mixed-ages in each group, lead by an experienced Waldorf Teacher and an Assistant. From this week, the four Kindergartens will also share a new floating Assistant.


As a longstanding Partner Provider of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC), demand for the holistic setting increased significantly as our hours of provision almost doubled this time last year, offering up to 1,140 hours of Waldorf education through ELC funding.


ESS is an official supporter of Give Them Time and our Early Years practitioners actively inform parents of their legal choice to start school later, providing a learning environment that is deliberately conducive to a mixed-age group of 3.5 – 6.5 year olds; which Waldorf philosophy considers highly beneficial for the child’s social, emotional, spiritual and academic intelligences. All of 4-year-old Kindergarteners due to start school this month applied successfully to Defer Entry To P1, giving them extra time in the Early Years setting, where learning is integrated into what they are doing, as opposed to subject based.  (3-min Early Years film)


The SNP will discuss raising the school starting age to six at their upcoming party conference in October. Offering an important alternative to the mainstream independent education sector, ESS is a flagship educational approach that exemplifies a later start to schooling, without the need for SNSA testing, works.

Really, if our goal is for children to become educated and to become creative learners and doers, then it is all the more important that they take the time, that they build and grow their bodies, before they start sitting at a desk, looking at worksheets and writing, without playing as much as they need to. It takes them away from the work that they cannot go back and do later.

They have to do this in these Early Years: building their brain, building their organs, building their bodies; integrating all their senses, so that when they come and actually are ready for desk work, they are not still struggling with distractions and difficulties and inability to be still and listen and focus; which is really a setback actually… in the bigger picture.

(Waldorf Teacher, Lisa Gordon, in short documentary by award-winning education filmmaker Now We Are Six).



Uniquely, ESS has long run a curriculum that has embraced children starting formal education at 6 or 7, in line with 1,200 Steiner Waldorf schools in some 80 countries; and all bar 12% of nations worldwide. Before Class 1, they learn in an environment that is simple and unhurried without the notions of ‘achievement’, ‘success’, or ‘failure’. (4-min film Time To Learn: Class 1


LOWER SCHOOL –  has a Class Teacher that will remain with his cohort of pupils ideally for the full eight years. Pupils have the opportunity to form bonds with classmates that extend their whole school career (and beyond). Here, Specialist Teachers deliver two modern languages, alongside several instruments (their voice being one), and theatrical productions that properly exercise a child’s capacity for sizable memorization, from the age of six. Their learning environment is deliberately low-tech. (Why?).



At a time where most young people become specialised as a result of their exam choices, pupils at Edinburgh Steiner School continue to study a broad spectrum of arts, sciences, crafts and humanities in addition to their national exam subjects through the Main Lesson programme, found only at Waldorf schools.  As a result, irrespective of whether pupils veer towards the arts or the sciences in their exam choices, they continue to receive a valuable grounding across all subjects.


In spite of the first hours of each morning dedicated to this Programme throughout the exam years; as well as academic entrance exams having no place in our application process (in contrast to Edinburgh’s other independent schools), ESS pupils achieve examination results that rank our School in the top fifteen in Scotland doing Highers.


Applications are accepted throughout the year for pupils aged 2 – 18 years old, allowing pupils to start their Steiner Waldorf journey at any point in the academic session, welcoming pupils of all academic abilities, valuing them for what they bring to the school community. Open Tours will resume after a two-year Covid-pause on Friday, 4th October. (Admissions Process)