Frequently asked questions
What is Steiner education?
- Works for children irrespective of academic ability, class, ethnicity or religion;
- Takes account of the needs of the whole child – academic, physical, emotional and spiritual;
- Is based on an understanding of the relevance of the different phases of child development;
- Develops a love of learning and an enthusiasm for school;
- Sees artistic activity and the development of the imagination as integral to learning;
- Is tried and tested and is part of state funded, mainstream provision in most European countries;
- Is respected worldwide for its ability to produce very able young people who have a strong sense of self and diverse capacities that enable them to become socially and economically responsible citizens.
Who was Rudolf Steiner?
Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925) was an innovative academic born in Austria whose ideas founded the basis of Anthroposophy. He applied his ideas to education as well as agriculture, medicine, architecture and social reform. The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship® acknowledges Rudolf Steiner as the founding inspiration of modern day Steiner schools, but does not promote Anthroposophy or endorse every aspect of it.
What are Community National Schools?
Community National Schools (CNS) are child-centred, multidenominational, publicly-accountable schools which strive to provide high quality education for every child. They give equal opportunities to all children in the communities they serve. They were established in 2008 and are managed by the Education and Training Boards (ETBs). Read more
Are the teachers in the school Waldorf/Steiner trained?
Our teachers are typically national trained teachers (rather than Waldorf/Steiner trained).
Do you follow the National Curriculum or Steiner Curriculum?
As a community national school we deliver the national curriculum.
How is the school run?
The board of management manages the school on behalf of the patron (GRETB) and is accountable to the patron and the Minister. The Board must uphold the characteristic spirit (ethos) of the school and is accountable to the patron for so doing. The principal is responsible for the day-to-day management of the school, including providing guidance and direction to the teachers and other staff of the school and is accountable for that management.
Who is your Parton Body?
Our school was established in September 2015 under patronage of Lifeways Ireland. On August 29th 2019, Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board (GRETB) became our new Patron Body. The new arrangement helped provide a framework of support for the school while maintaining the Steiner pedagogy in the school. Lifeways Ireland continues to advise the school in relation to Steiner pedagogy.
Do you cater for all Primary School Classes?
Our school was established in September 2015 in response to a demographic need for additional primary school places in the Knocknacarra area. We will be adding a class each year so we will cater for children up to and including 5th class from September 2021 until we reach 6th class in September 2022.
What Secondary Schools do your pupils typically attend?
We can't say for sure what options families choose when they leave Primary school as we won’t have our fist 6th class graduates until June 2023. We anticipate most children will go into mainstream secondary schools within their locality as the nearest Steiner secondary school option, the ALFA project, is in Co. Clare.
Is there a Steiner Secondary School in Galway?
Currently the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) is looking into the possibility of a Secondary School. We always say to parents enrolling now that you are enrolling on the basis that your child will be ready for mainstream secondary school education (as required by the Department of Education) as it will be quite a task to get a secondary school open. As the PTA is working on this now, watch this space…
Do you have Permanent Accommodation?
Currently our school is on the Cappagh Road in Knocknacarra, Galway. We are situated next to Barna Woods on the Cappagh Park entrance. It is temporary accommodation and it consists of six pre-fabs. Efforts are ongoing to liaise with the Department regarding our permanent accommodation within the same locality.
Do parents have to pay fees?
As a National School we do not have fees, but we have requirements for art materials, main lesson books, etc. depending on class. For example, in 2020/21 infants requirements were €100, 1st/2nd class requirements were €150. There are also additional costs for theatre trips, school tour, swimming etc.
How much time do the children typically spend outdoors?
Children in Junior & Senior infants start every day outdoors, approx. 1.5 hours in the forest or outdoor garden. From 1st to 6th class, less time is spent outdoors, but each class participates in a 6-8 week block of weekly Forest School Sessions (approx. 2.5 hours per session).
What is the typical class size?
The average class size in a National School is 28 pupils. As our school establishes itself, some of our classes are slightly above this average while others are less than this average. Our classes are typically multi-class, i.e. a number of classes in the same classroom.
How do you cater for children with Special Needs?
The school is a mainstream school without special classes. A child will not be refused enrolment in Cuan na Gaillimhe CNS because of a disability or 'special need'. It is very important that parents inform the school of any necessary resources and supports required for children with special educational needs so we can ensure the correct supports are in place.
Are parents involved in the school?
We have a vibrant school community with families from a wide variety of backgrounds. Community spirit is central to school life and the festivals celebrated in school bring everyone together. There are many ways in which families support their child’s journey through the school. These include:
- becoming a parent Class Representative
- assisting with fundraising
- joining the committee of the Parent Teacher Association
- becoming a member of one of the community groups such as the garden group or craft group
- For more info on our parental involvement, visit the
Parent's Pages of our webiste.
When do pupils begin formal learning?
Pupils start formal learning, i.e.
numeracy in first class at the age of six, the norm in many European countries and an approach supported by a significant body of research. Academic skills can be introduced with relative ease if children, who overall develop as expected, have first had the opportunity to develop
coordination and their
relationship to themselves, others and the world around them during the pre-school years and in Junior & Senior Infants (Kindergarten).
What is a Main Lesson?
1st to 6th class each day opens with a
Main Lesson which lasts approximately 2 hours and will focus for
up to four weeks on one
core subject drawn from the broad curriculum. The Class Teacher endeavours to integrate a range of artistic activities, techniques, delivery methods, learning styles and resources to encourage the child’s
enthusiastic immersion in the subject.
Do the children receive homework in your school?
We understand that children's
capacities to learn in the early years are concentrated in the
morning time. The
afternoons are for
activity and play, the
evenings and nights for a period of
calm and absorption. The children in
Junior Infants & Senior Infants do not receive any formal homework in our school. Parents are asked to support school routines to create good habits e.g. when the child returns home, they put away their own belongings, hang up their coat etc.
Classes 1 & 2, once they have mastered the basics of the phonic system, may receive a
short reading homework several evenings a week. In addition, parents will see that children often spontaneously take up at home what they have been learning at school. They engage in
self-directed reading, writing and number work, often of the most delightful and imaginative character. This is to be welcomed and encouraged, but not forced.
Written homework formally begins in
Class 3. At this age children have already acquired some considerable expertise in reading, writing, drawing and numbers. They also have the
ability to begin to take personal responsibility for their work. The children greet the arrival of homework with
great excitement, and they are proud to show at home what they can do by themselves. We want to keep that kernel of enthusiasm in the years that follow.
purpose of homework is:
- to reinforce what has been learned in the classroom
- to develop strong organisational skills
- to nurture children’s ability to work independently
Do you use assessment in your school?
In line with the
Irish School Curriculum, the Steiner approach sees assessment as a means of
gaining knowledge of,
insight into and
understanding for the child. The more accurate and comprehensive the observations, the richer the understanding. Increased understanding can lead to positive development in the child. In ideal circumstances, the outcome of assessment of a child is that meaningful help is offered, and new developmental opportunities are created.
Assessment can lead to transformation in teaching and learning. As a National school we include
standardised testing as part of our assessment tools.
What part do festivals play?
Festivals, both seasonal and those adopted from the culture that is local to the school, play an important part in the life of the child. These festivals serve to awaken the child’s natural reverence, recognition of the mood that is appropriate for such occasions and a respect for the spiritual essence that exists in us all. Festivals also provide an opportunity for participation and celebration by the whole school community.
Do you deliver the curriculum in English or in Irish?
In a Gaelscoil, Irish (Gaeilge) is the first language of instruction.
We are not a Gaelscoil so
English is the first language of instruction in our school. Irish (Gaeilge) is taught in all national schools in Ireland as a separate subject and informally throughout the day.
What place does sport have in the curriculum?
Games and sports are an integral part of social and cultural life in our schools. They promote physical agility, grace, social awareness, self-esteem and cooperation. Competition has its place as the children get older and at that point we may prepare and enter teams in a range of sports competitions.
Is Eurythmy delivered in your school?
Eurythmy is a form of movement that attempts to make visible the tone and feeling of music and speech. It helps to develop
awareness and a
sensitivity to others. While many of our lessons do incorporate movement we don’t deliver Eurythmy in our school. The Department of Education does not provide funding for Eurythmy and we are not aware of any qualified teachers of Eurythmy in Galway.
What do our schools recommend about television viewing and IT?
A familiarity with all the technologies that surround us and influence our lives is an essential part of a complete education. There is growing evidence, however, that
too much ‘screen time’ is detrimental to children and Steiner schools do not shy away from engaging in critical debate about the appropriate use of computers, TV and other screens.
How do children adjust when they transfer to our school?
The standards in our school are high and we require children to take a high degree of responsibility for their own learning. It can take time to adjust to this, although most settle very quickly.
How is the children's behaviour managed?
Our school has clear expectations and clear boundaries. Children learn best when they feel secure and when they know what to expect. A warm, well structured environment gives them essential support in finding out about the world and themselves in an age-appropriate fashion. Our school has a
code of conduct and
anti-bullying policies in place, both of which are available on the
policies section of this website.
Does your school teach religion?
In our school we deliver the Parton’s curriculum-Goodness Me, Goodness You! (GMGY) which is a multi-belief and values curriculum that has been developed for Community National Schools in collaboration with children, parents and teachers of the schools, the local Education and Training Boards, the Education and Training Board of Ireland, the Department of Education and Skills and assisted by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.
The GMGY curriculum makes an important contribution in enabling each child to live their life to the full while exploring their identity and their place in the world. The curriculum enables children to be active citizens in their local and global community, to think critically and imaginatively about the world around them, to share their beliefs and values, and to encounter the beliefs and values of others in a learning environment of enquiry and respect. Through this sharing of experience, the child is enabled to live their life in an atmosphere of respect for and appreciation of diversity.
To find out more
Does the class teacher follow their class?
In some Steiner schools the class teacher will follow his/her class from 1st class to 6th class. Other schools may assign a teacher to e.g. 1st/2nd class and the teacher stays with the class and becomes familiar in that particular curricular area.
In our school to date we have adopted the former model believing the knowledge the teacher
gains of the pupil outweighs the knowledge and expertise
gained in the particular curricular stage.
What if a child does not get on with their class teacher? (given that the teacher may be with the child for a number of years.)
The teacher’s professional responsibility is heightened when children are in their charge and care for a number of years. Challenges cannot be ‘passed down the line’ but have to be addressed. The teacher and children come to know and understand each other in a deep way, respecting both strengths and weaknesses. The children feel themselves to be known, the teacher feels more accountable and the working together between teacher and parents becomes more meaningful.
What is anthroposophy?
Anthroposophy is a developing body of research and not a belief system, indeed Steiner was at pains to make sure that people scrutinized his ideas and put them to the test; he did not want them simply to be adopted or ‘believed’, but he did invite people to engage with them. In his lectures on education he gave many indications for suitable subject matter and approaches to teaching for different ages but always stressed that teachers must be free to interpret these indications in their own way.
The philosophical and methodological approaches that underlie anthroposophy are regarded as tools for personal and professional development; they are not taught within the school, either as a subject or a belief.
Do Steiner's views on race influence the education?
Although Steiner’s ideas are based on a profound respect for the equality, individuality and shared humanity of all people, regardless of race or ethnic origin, his works do contain a number of statements on race that are inappropriate in a modern context. They do not inform the education
in any way: they influence
neither content nor methodology.
Our school is opposed to all forms of discrimination and upholds The Equal Status Acts 2000-2018 ('the Acts') which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of gender, marital status, family status, age disability, sexual orientation, race, religion, or membership of the Traveller community.