Good performance without being held back

By Vincent Schiewe, March 2013

Pupils are not held back to repeat a year in Waldorf schools. Learning together from class one to class twelve is a principle of Waldorf education – with good results. A model which is now also gaining support in state schools.

Holding a pupil back has never been an option in Waldorf schools. 

The Free Waldorf Schools in Baden-Württemberg have welcomed the current debate in education policy about making pupils repeat a year. The regional government, consisting of Greens and Social Democrats, intends to make it unnecessary in future to hold a pupil back by expanding the provision of individual support. “If a pupil is experiencing problems, making him or her repeat a year is not going to help a great deal. But supporting him or her in their day-to-day schooling would, however, do so,” said Education Minister Andreas Stoch. A practice which has been the supreme principle in Waldorf schools from the beginning.

That better outcomes are achieved if pupils are not held back a year is shown by the figures for school leavers in Baden-Württemberg. According to the current data, 47.6 percent of pupils at independent Waldorf schools obtain a higher education entrance qualification. That is over 20 percent more than at state schools. In addition, 18.2 percent of school leavers achieve an entrance qualification for a university of applied sciences. These figures illustrate the success of the learning methods at the independent Waldorf schools which have to make do completely without the potential threat of having to repeat a year. The winners of the PISA study, Finland and Japan, can also serve as an example. These countries abolished holding pupils back years ago.

“Learning together for longer” – this success story of Waldorf education is now also establishing itself in state schools. Such a change in political thinking for the benefit of children cannot but be welcomed.

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