Steiner Schools were devised to fit the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. The system he devised is sometimes referred to as Waldorf Education (as it was first instituted in the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette factory in 1919). It relies on the principles they call 'Anthroposophy'. The education makes use of long disproven ideas of child development that classifies children according to the classical theory of the "four humours": sanguine, melancholic, choleric, and phlegmatic. Steiner Schools hold some credibility only because they focus on individuality and free thinking, which makes them popular with anti-establishment parents.
Anthroposophy has some dangerous ideas about disease and sees it as part of the natural life course. This may account for reported vaccination rates as low as 8% in some schools. Anthroposophic medicine is an alternative medicine practice and will be a covered in more detail in a future fact. This same laissez-faire attitude is reportedly applied to bullying in the schools, seen as part of the development of the children. There is no religious indoctrination but there are festivals and rituals that are observed which are Pagan-like in their reverence for nature.
This appeal to nature in the school continues into the classroom where computers, plastics and television are discouraged. The curriculum focuses on arts and music rather than science and maths. Children are discouraged from learning to read until age 7 and the use of computers until age 14. There are state-funded Steiner Schools in the UK that were opened under the free schools policy. Most Steiner Schools are private. The one in Edinburgh costs up to £9000 a year in fees. The British Humanist Association has criticised their teachings around medicine, especially their endorsement of homeopathy as part of their curriculum.