Canterbury Steiner School is one of over 1200 Steiner Waldorf schools found worldwide. They are all part of a movement based on Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian scientist and philosopher who, on the strength of his theory of human development, was asked in 1919 to found a school in Stuttgart. This was the first of many Steiner schools. Their value lies in their success at helping children develop into all-round human beings with a sense of inner self worth. This is achieved together with a deep understanding and appreciation of others, regardless of nationality, race, gender or religion.
Canterbury Steiner School owes its existence to a small group of parents who were determined that their children should receive a Steiner education. Situated in the beautiful Downs Valley, four miles south-west of Canterbury, and surrounded by the biodynamic farm belonging to the Brockman family. The Main House was purchased when it came on the market during 1976. This enabled the school to open in September of that year with fourteen children and two full-time teachers: Daphne Fraser in the Kindergarten and Moana Bowron as Class Teacher of a group of 6 – 9 year olds. Moana Bowron came to Perry Court with a vast experience of Steiner Education, after having completed three eight-year cycles as a Class Teacher at Michael Hall Rudolf Steiner School in Forest Row, Sussex. With tremendous energy, drive and foresight she built up the school during its first seven years.
A few weeks after the opening Christine Crawley joined the staff to take on Class Four. A year later numbers had risen to 45, the L – Block had been converted from open garages to two classrooms, and Christina Creek had joined the school as the new Class One teacher. Other teachers in the early days were Jo and Monica Crutchfield and Adrienne Milne.
In those early pioneering days parents and teachers worked together to create the physical and social environment of the school. The grounds were gradually tamed and landscaped by willing volunteers on Saturday mornings, the present Woodwork Building was converted into a classroom and the Midsummer Festivals, Halloween Barbecues, Advent Bazaars, Christmas Plays and Parents’ Festivals began to take place on a regular basis, with enormous input from parents and teachers.
In October 1979 the new Oast House was opened, and numbers soon passed the 100 mark. The following year the first temporary classroom was built thanks to a donation from the Kräherwald Waldorf School in Stuttgart, Germany. It became the home for the “top class”, by now Class Eight, which was the first class to graduate from Perry Court in July 1983, after completing Class Ten and ‘O’ levels.
In 1981 the Dane John Block was built, dramatically expanding the school’s capacity. The children soon arrived to fill it, necessitating an additional six new teachers for September 1982, as numbers approached the 250 mark. July 1983 saw the end of the first phase of the school’s development. Moana Bowron left along with the first group of 16 year olds.
Instead of retiring – her 70th birthday coincided with the end of her Class Eight at Perry Court – Moana Bowron went on to work in schools in California and London, and until her death in 2004 remained a great inspiration in teacher training for Steiner Waldorf Education.
In 1988, following a successful fund-raising campaign by the first Borrowing Community, the Eurythmy Building was opened. It was the first purpose-built building at Perry Court, comprising two Upper School Classrooms and a Eurythmy Room. A new Class 12 started in September 1994. A separate building for the Kindergarten was opened in April 1995. The Hall/Theatre was opened in December 1998 and further plans for the school include the replacement of the temporary buildings.
In 2002 at the A.G.M. a resolution was passed to change the name to Canterbury Steiner School. The name change came as the result of the P.R. Group’s research and with the launch of the school’s website we were able to use Canterbury Steiner School as our site address.