Waldorf education in Spain

By Alberto Caballero, July 2016

At an educational level Spain is going through a special situation. Over the last four years Spain had a government which imposed a new educational law without the agreement with any other political group. All other groups expressed their commitment to withdraw it as soon as they were in power. The results of the national elections of December 20th 2015 are totally open to alliances between different political forces.

Escuela Waldorf Alicante

The most striking point of the law is the part concerning standardized testing. Until now students had to go through national testing, but their results wouldn’t have a great impact in their educational life. Now students are required to take national tests in 6th grade, 10th grade and at the end of their baccalaureate. In the first case (end of primary education) negative results will not mean having to repeat a grade. At the end of secondary education, however, you will not be allowed to go on into a baccalaureate if you have negative results. You will have access to vocational training, instead. And at the end of baccalaureate you will have to pass the national standardized test if you want to gain access to university, although universities have the right to set their own entrance exam after the national one.

Waldorf Schools

Until now Waldorf schools in Spain have had two options regarding national requirements:

  1. Being partially funded by the state, thus compromising some aspects of the pedagogy (some Waldorf subjects, for example).
  2. Remain as private schools and increase the timetable where needed in order to complete the Waldorf Curriculum.

As of now, the change in subjects and the Schedule appointed to each subject does not impede to fulfill the Waldorf curriculum, although changes to the national curriculum have to be done and then justified to the inspection.

How to adapt pedagogy to national requirements

Apart from the requirements previously expressed, there is always the question of facilities required by law. In the last two years, and due to the problems encountered by one of the initiatives, which was about to start secondary school, some Waldorf schools have got in touch with the Dharma foundation. This foundation holds an agreement with the International Institute of the Pacific (ITT), a Panama body which grants school leaving certificates and does not require the premises that the Spanish law demands.

This fact has been a matter of discussion for our National Federation because we own the Waldorf trademark for educational purposes. The Dharma Foundation tried to write into the agreement with the afore-mentioned school the possibility for the foundation to use the name Waldorf. This led to an exclusion of the school from the national federation until Dharma agreed to not use the name Waldorf and the school was properly managed by the teachers without the influence of the Dharma foundation. Now other initiatives are embracing this solution in order to open a school legally. However, all these initiatives will have to comply with our National Federation policies in order to continue using the name Waldorf.

Waldorf schools today

Waldorf Education was first established in Spain in 1979 and its growth has increased in the last few years parallel to a new interest in pedagogical methods in the country. Now there are:

  • 24 kindergardens
  • 10 primary education schools
  • 4 secondary education schools (three of them have opened in the last 3 years)
  • 1 upper school

Besides these institutions, there are more than 70 Waldorf initiatives including daycare parents. In this aspect, it is important to add that daycare parents were legalized in Spain only last year.

In the last 15 years the Waldorf teacher training centres in Spain have grown from 1 to 8. Some of these entities are recognized as formal teacher training by the Spanish government.

The Spanish Federation

The Spanish Federation (Asociación de Centros Educativos Waldorf de España) was created 11 years ago and it includes all Waldorf initiatives in Spain provided they meet the requirements. It also includes in its list the “friend initiatives”, which are those that still do not hold all permissions to open as an accredited school.

The Spanish Federation board consists of representatives coming from some of the established schools in Spain, also two representatives from regional groups that meet on a regular basis in order to develop their inner and pedagogical work and support. There is one group in Catalonia and another group in the Canary Islands. The board is made up of 12 people who meet four times a year. No one is employed by the federation.

The Federation carries out the following tasks:

  • Issuing a Waldorf magazine twice a year
  • Giving legal and pedagogical support to teachers and educational initiatives.
  • Caring for the quality of the schools and the correct use of the name Waldorf.
  • Providing legal and anthroposophical counseling to those initiatives or groups which are about to start.
  • Holding three meetings a year.
  • Organizing a conference and teacher meeting once a year in Spain or Portugal.

Source: ECSWE

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