Beechtree is a small alternative independent school currently based in Chapeltown Leeds offering Steiner education for children aged 3-9. We plan to extend this to age 11 to cover the primary years and also plan to move to larger premises.
The Essence of Beechtree:
We make time at Beechtree….
For the children to play
To connect with the seasons
And to be in nature
To sing and tell stories
And to care deeply for each child here
This was written by our Beechtree Staff Team over the years and is at the centre of everything we do.
Beechtree started just over twenty years ago, as a tiny parent and child group in someone’s front room, became a well-established kindergarten for children aged 3-6 years old, and in September 2017 expanded to become a school. In November 2019, we were delighted to receive a Good rating from Ofsted, the first Steiner school to be assessed under the new educational framework. We consider ourselves to be part of a growing generation of new Steiner schools providing a robust child-centred gentle education that is perfect for the challenges of the 21st Century.
Steiner Education was initially based on the ideas of Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian Philosopher in relation to child development. These ideas have been developed through practice internationally over the last hundred years and we continue to develop them in our own way at Beechtree, making sure that the curriculum we have meets the needs of the children of Beechtree. Our overarching aim is to cultivate motivated, responsible, competent young people who have a life-long love of learning and a strong sense of the contribution that they can make to society.
Expanding into a school has been an interesting and challenging process at times and we have learned that strong foundations are essential to sustain any growth and that there is no rush to do too much too quickly – which is of course mirrors our practice with the children.
What has been fundamental to our growth is having a strong staff team that works well together. We have a committed team of teaching professionals, some of whom have come from a mainstream background seeking out an alternative way of working, united by a love of the approach that we offer at Beechtree. The staff share the school space in creative and innovative ways, which ensures there is an atmosphere of co-operation blanketing the children and mirrors the creative and innovative curriculum and methods.
The teachers themselves are important tools, in the caring relationship they have with the children in their care, in how they demonstrate what to do and how to be, and in the reflective work and planning they do both with colleagues and alone.
We have small class sizes, with our early years groups consisting of children aged 3-6 years old and our class years currently in a group aged 7-9 which alongside our emphasis on learning and playing outside works well in a global pandemic.
Embedding a secure daily, weekly, seasonal and yearly rhythm is a bedrock of our work, as is the direct and experiential learning that takes place in all years; the security of a regular familiar rhythm of the day and week supports our behaviour management as well as strengthening the children’s internal security. Formal learning doesn’t take place in the early years but the open-ended play materials, time and space to play, stories, crafts and songs that fill the day are carefully designed to imbue the children with pre-literacy skills so that they have a strong foundation to take forwards to the woven class years curriculum.
Each Steiner school is unique, growing and adapting to reflect the individual needs of its own community. Our Leeds setting is well established and growing. Will you join us?