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School Curriculum

Learning is the key to human development, but it is not a simple, homogeneous process. What to learn, when to learn, and how to learn are arrived at through a conscious and careful study of children as well as a comprehensive understanding of the human being through all stages of human development. The teachers of London Steiner School (LSS) strive to help each child to eventually become a clear-thinking, sensitive and well-balanced adult.

The curriculum reflects the developmental theory and philosophy on which it is based, namely an emphasis on the whole development of the child – spiritual, physical, moral and academic. At each stage of development, the curriculum is designed to engage the abilities of the growing child. In the kindergarten, this is done through free creative play; in the lower school through the imaginative and artistic presentation of material by the class teacher. This continues in the middle school but develops gradually into challenging the students’ awakening capacity for independent thought. In this way, the Steiner Waldorf curriculum will respond to the developmental needs of the pupils at each level. The LSS curriculum is relevant, broadly-based, integrated, interdisciplinary and comprehensive.

The building blocks of the Lower School curriculum are the Main Lessons, which commence in Class 1 and continue right through to Middle School Class 8. The day begins with the Main Lesson period – an extended lesson which lasts 2 hours. The content of the lesson will be drawn from one of the main cultural subjects (English, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography etc) and these subjects are taught in thematic block periods of 3 or 4 weeks in a horizontal sequence across the year. There is also a vertical sequence from year to year within a subject area so there is an ascending spiral of knowledge.

The long Main Lesson period allows the Class Teacher to develop a wide range of integrated activities around the central theme and this enables a variety of learning strategies – movement, speech, music, singing, rhythmic and practical activities as well as formal academic work. Main Lessons also incorporate a three-fold approach – physical, artistic and intellectual – consciously working with the whole child. In addition, there is also a 3-day rhythm which enhances the learning process -by building continuity, incorporating an element of review and recall. This allows for a depth of understanding which incorporates feelings and will as well as intellectual comprehension.

After Main Lesson all classes have subject lessons in Foreign Languages, Music, Eurythmy, Physical Education, Gardening and Craft. Throughout the daily rhythm, a balance is sought between the academic, artistic and practical.

Main Lesson

Class One Blocks: English, Maths, and Home environment:

In Class One the children learn about letters and numbers. Letters are first introduced through stories, fairy tales and form drawing: numbers are introduced through counting and the use of movement (rhythm). The child is gradually shown the four processes of addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.

The foundations of learning are laid by a focus on the natural world, by going for nature walks and observing natural processes: other more abstract subjects, like history and geography, are approached by working with the immediate living environment of the Class children.

Class Two: English, Maths, the Child’s environment

Continuing from Class One the children begin to learn in more depth the landscape of letters and sentences. They are encouraged to write their own stories, to listen, learn, and recite poetry together. In Maths they use movements and rhythm, to learn the times-tables. The teacher will tell the children fables that reflect how we live within the world, and stories that talk about great peoples’ lives.

Class Three Blocks: English, Maths, Building, Farming, Old Testament stories and Mythology

English and Maths become progressively more elaborate, studying time and measurement. Building and farming are major subjects for the main lesson in this year. Children will learn by working on their own building project. They will study and experience farming first hand through visits; gardening is also an important subject, following the seasons of the year through practical application. They will read and study the stories found in the Old Testament.

Class Four Blocks: English, Maths, Local Geography, Ancient Mythology, Man and Animal

In English Main lessons, pupils learn about verbs (the past, present, future) and in Maths more complex processes like long division and working with fractions. The children will work on their own “Man and Animal’ project. Local Geography is introduced through the careful study of the local environment, working out from the Schools’ immediate location into the geography and history of London.

Class Five Blocks: British Geography, Botany, Mythology and Ancient History, English and Maths.

The teaching moves from myth to history – from mythological time to earthly time and to learning the inter-relatedness of life through plant, animal and the earth. They will review and further develop their skills in fractions and decimals. The class will participate in an annual pentathlon event where they will play the ancient games of running, jumping, discus throwing, javelin and wrestling.

Class Six Blocks: European Geography, Roman and Early Medieval History, Physics, Mineralogy, Astronomy, Geometry, Maths and English

The phenomena of acoustics, heat, magnetism and optics are explored through concrete application and experimentation. The culture of Ancient Rome is studied, with its emphasis on practical technology and law, and later on the study of the Middle Ages provides an insight into the development of the human inner world, which the pupils themselves are becoming more aware of every day. 

Class Seven Blocks: World Geography, Physics, Chemistry, ‘Man and his environment’, Astronomy, Geometry, The Discoverers, History, Maths and English

The children will study the geography of the world, the lives of fabled discoverers, poetry, what is healthy for human life and the life of the planet. They will be introduced to the mysteries of chemistry and physics, to experience the richness of the Renaissance and to learn about the Reformation. Biographies of famous people enable the pupils to gain insights about their own struggles and explorations by hearing and working on the lives of others who can provide inspiration and example to many. 

Class Eight Blocks: World Geography, History, Physics, Chemistry, Physiology, English, Maths and Geometry

All Year Classes have a range of other classes that include additional main lesson blocks (e.g. Extra Reading) and specialist subjects: Modern Languages, Music, Art, Craft (Handwork), Eurythmy and Gardening. These classes build the child’s experience and learning, by complimenting the teaching in Main Lessons.

Lower School

Class One

  • Form Drawing
  • Oracy – listening, speaking, recitation.
  • Literacy: Introduction to the alphabet and sounds of the letters via story, drawing, painting. Simple phonics, wordplay, writing simple, yet beautiful sentences, reading own writing, writing stories using mainly phonetic spelling for unknown words.
  • Mathematics: The quality of numbers, Counting to 100, Roman and Arabic numerals, The four processes (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division). Number games, bean bag exercises, movement etc.
  • Nature Study – via nature walks, nature table, exploration and observation and imaginative stories
  • Music: Singing and introduction to the Recorder
  • Handwork: making knitting needles and Knitting practical yet beautiful objects.
  • Eurythmy/Movement: coordination, balance and music appreciation.
  • Foreign Languages: French and German – songs, rhymes, drama.
  • Art: Painting, Beeswax Modelling, Crayon Drawing. Building a practical relationship to colour and form.

Class Two

  • Fables from around the world.
  • Study of saints, sages and holy men.
  • Grammar, sentences and punctuation.
  • Writing: introduction to cursive handwriting; writing simple stories
  • Reading: Introduction to reading schemes. Reading of simple texts, own writing and teacher writing.
  • Mathematics: Continuing work with the four processes and introducing  more complicated sums in vertical form, using place value and columns. Movement and number games. Multiplication tables.
  • Foreign Languages: French and German – songs, rhymes, drama.
  • Form Drawing – more complex forms as a support for personal development, writing, drawing and hand/eye coordination.
  • Nature Study: through Aesop’s fables and other stories, Native-American stories, or similar, nature works, gardening, observation and exploration, simple green woodwork. Building a relationship to ‘mother Earth’.
  • Music: Singing and Recorder
  • Handwork: Knitting,  consolidating skills and making more complicated patterns  ball.
  • Eurythmy
  • Art: Painting, drawing and Modelling

Class Three

  • Oracy: Storytelling, listening, speaking, communication, drama.
  • English: The study of grammar, verbs, nouns, sentences, punctuation.
  • Handwriting: Continuing practice of cursive and use of ink.
  • Mathematics of Practical Life: Time, Temperature, Weight & Volume, linear measurement (integrated into House building), Trade Goods & The Development of Currency
  • Form Drawing
  • Social, Ecological and Environmental Studies: Farming and Gardening; House building – practical activities outside, simple woodwork skills as part of this.
  • Cultural Studies: stories of the Old Testament, Jewish festivals or similar.
  • Drama
  • Music: Singing: singing in rounds, Recorder, string ensemble where pupils choose their own instrument
  • Handwork: Spinning, Weaving
  • Eurythmy
  • Foreign Languages: French and German
  • Painting
  • PE

Class Four

  • English: Oracy; recall, recitation – choral and individual, alliterative verse & Drama/class play; working grammar and punctuation continues;  Handwriting; More complex composition writing through personal narratives: Tall Tales.
  • Zoology: a comparative study of human being and animals/ personal project
  • Geography and Local History of Wandsworth and Streatham, London
  • Cultural Studies: Norse mythology & Viking history
  • Mathematics: Introduction to Fractions
  • Form Drawing: Complex interweaving patterns such as Celtic knots. Free-hand geometry.
  • Singing: singing two-part songs
  • Handwork: Cross Stitch
  • Eurythmy
  • Foreign Languages: French and German
  • Art: Painting, drawing, modelling
  • PE 

Class Five

  • Ancient History (Cultural/historical themes): India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece
  • Geography of British Isles
  • Botany
  • Geometry: Plane figures, constructions, Pythagoras
  • Mathematics: Fractions and Decimals
  • Music: Singing and Orchestra
  • Handwork: Complex Knitting
  • Woodwork: whittling
  • Eurythmy
  • English: reading, writing, and grammar to NC levels and above
  • Foreign Languages
  • Art: Painting, drawing, modelling
  • PE – Athletics and Olympic games 

Middle School

The LSS Middle School has arisen as a result of considering the differing needs of the children at London Steiner school. Until we maybe have an Upper School our pupils will graduate from LSS at approximately age 15. Some pupils will move to mainstream secondary schools, a few to conventional independent schools and some to Steiner Waldorf schools with an Upper School. The Middle school builds on the work of the Kindergarten and Lower School and prepares the children for a smooth transition to whatever avenues of education lie ahead of them after LSS.

Class  Six

  • History: the transition from ancient to modern: the decline of Greece, the rise and fall of Rome, and the effects of these cultures on European civilization up through the Middle Ages.
  • Geography: Europe
  • Geology
  • Astronomy
  • Physics: Acoustics, Optics, Heat
  • Geometry – theorems, proofs
  • Mathematics: Percentage and Ratio
  • Music: Singing and Orchestra
  • Handwork
  • Woodwork 
  • Eurythmy
  • English
  • Foreign Languages
  • Art: Painting, perspective drawing, modelling
  • PE & Games.

Class Seven

  • History: Renaissance and Reformation
  • World Geography
  • Science: Physics, Mechanics,  Inorganic Chemistry,  Physiology
  • Geometry
  • Mathematics: Algebra, Negative Numbers, Square and Cube Roots
  • Music: Singing and Orchestra
  • Handwork
  • Woodwork 
  • Eurythmy: Ballads, Drama, Tragedy
  • English: including creative writing with engaging the feelings of wish, wonder and surprise. Grammar, comprehension, text analysis, consolidation of literacy skills.
  • Literature – comparing writing styles, poetry and comprehension.
  • Foreign Languages
  • Art: Painting, drawing, modelling
  • PE and games

Class Eight

  • History: the Industrial Revolution to the present day
  • Geography as related to World Economics
  • Physics: Acoustics, Thermodynamics, Mechanics,  Electricity and Magnetism, Hydraulics, Aerodynamics.
  • Meteorology
  • Ecology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physiology
  • Geometry: measurement of surfaces and volume, platonic solids.
  • Mathematics: practical applications of arithmetic, algebra, and geometry, Graphing
  • Music: Singing and Orchestra, Elizabethan Music, General Music, Symphonic Form
  • Handwork: Machine Sewing & designing and making clothes; Artistic Hand-Sewing Projects
  • Eurythmy: poems with contrasting moods
  • English: the short story, letters, and Shakespearean or other classic drama analysed, adapted and performed; Grammar, Comprehension, Consolidation.
  • Foreign Languages
  • Art: Painting highlights and shadows in portraits and landscapes
  • PE and Games


The  early childhood approach takes as given the interdependence of physical, emotional, social, spiritual and cognitive development. It takes account of the whole child, including his/her soul qualities, and believes that children’s learning flourishes in a calm, peaceful, predictable, familiar and unhurried environment that recognises the child’s sensory sensitivities. Young children need to experience the relevance of their world before they separate themselves from it and begin to analyse it in a detached way.

Learning gains meaning by its relevance to life and should not be separated from the business of daily living. The learning experience of children under the age of seven, therefore, is integrated and not subject-based. Mathematics and use of mathematical language, for example, might take place at the cooking table, where food is prepared (thinly sliced carrots make wonderful natural circles and have the added virtue of being able to be eaten later in soup!) and concepts such as addition and subtraction (or more or less), weight, measure, quantity and shape are grasped in a practical manner as part of daily life. Children are able to tell a story by ‘reading’ the pictures in a book, which develops verbal skills, frees the narrative from the printed text and encourages children to use their own words. Many children also act out or perform puppet shows and develop dramatic skills by working with narrative and dialogue in an artistic way. The conversations around the meal table give the children the opportunity to become familiar with listening and speaking, rhyming and riddles. Painting and drawing help with balance and symmetry and craft activities also develop fine motor skills. The integration of these activities cultivates a love of language, develops speech and allows children time to become really familiar with the spoken word – the foundation of literacy.

Kindergarten Final Year

“Formal learning of the three Rs does not feature in the Steiner/Waldorf early childhood curriculum, in the belief that a child will learn these skills more effectively if she/he has had plenty of time and opportunity to develop socially, emotionally and physically, first in a creative, secure, enabling and harmonious environment rich in hands-on activity and play and where language and communication are enabled through a rich oral tradition.”  Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship

In London Steiner School early years settings, our older children take part in extra-curricular teacher-led activities known as daily work, where the children work on a focused project that has an appropriate time frame.

  • Practical & Social: Creative play, daily teacher-led activities, eg: drawing, baking, craft, beeswax modelling, gardening, woodwork and outside play.
  • Artistic: Painting, drawing, doll making, weaving, various sewing projects.
  • Oracy & Pre-literacy skills: Rhymes, poems and verses, movement, painting (pen hold), line drawing., special books.
  • Numeracy: Sorting, counting, weighing, playing shops, folding clothes, setting table for snack or festivals, counting and organising chairs for story time.
  • Technology: Making apple juice using a manual juicer, grinding grain in a hand grinder
  • Nature Study: Walks, gardening, seasonal festivals, trips out.

Learning gains meaning when it bears relevance to real life experiences, the learning experience for children under the age of seven in our early years settings is therefore integrated and not subject based.

Bibliography for curriculum

The Tasks and Content of the  Steiner Waldorf Curriculum. Edited by Rawson, Richter and Avison. Floris Books; 2nd Revised edition edition (12 Jun. 2014)

Brooking-Payne (1996):Games Children Play. Hawthorn Press, Stroud, UK.