Background

The History of Galway Steiner National School goes back to 2013, when the Minister for Education earmarked a two stream school for Knocknacarra  (to accommodate a long term projected need of up to 16 classrooms beginning with a 2 stream junior infant intake) based on census data indicating a shortage of school places. After inviting interested patrons to apply, the Department of Education and Skills (DES) announced that one stream of an Educate Together National School would open in 2014 and one stream of a Steiner National School would open in 2015.

Asked about his commitment to the development of Steiner education within the Irish education system, the Minister replied:

“My Department will continue to consider the recognition of new schools including those with a Steiner ethos in accordance with demographic growth in an area, parental demand, the potential for extending diversity of provision and available resources. All schools regardless of their ethos are expected to comply with the Education Act 1998 and the rules and regulations of my Department, particularly in relation to patronage, board of management, implementation of the curriculum, admissions policy and procedures for the appointment of teaching staff” (RQ, June 2012, Dáil Èireann) and (DES, 2013).

The demand for a Steiner school and the rapid growth in interest for the school confirmed the demand. In May 2015, Galway Steiner National School appointed its principal teacher and was provided with temporary accommodation in Knocknacarra.

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An Introduction to Steiner Education by Francis Edmunds

Edmunds’ introduction to Steiner education is weighty enough but every bit worth the read. It’s informative and doesn’t leave many questions you might have about Steiner education unanswered.

The early chapters are structured chronologically and bring you through the developmental years of a child’s life, from preschool up to secondary school and examinations. He doesn’t shy away from pitting Steiner education against other more conventional education systems and uses plenty of anecdotal evidence to illustrate various idiosyncrasies of the Steiner approach.

In his consideration of what he calls the over intellectualisation of children today, Edmunds says that “spontaneous child fantasy forces have begun to dry up”. The result is that “humans are unable to beset problems they are faced with”, as we have not been given the appropriate chance to let our imaginations develop freely enough to be creative. He warns against bringing a child too soon into her wakefullness or nerve senses, describing ways the child can be guided less abruptly through to their next stage of development by painting, modeling, cooking, sewing, building, nursery rhymes, action songs, eurythmy, simple fairy tales and little plays.

Regarding the developmental stage of age 7 to 14, Edmunds talks about the Steiner idea that this period of childhood is a unique gift to man. He refers to ‘feeling and heart’ learning, where teachers use ‘picture’ as opposed to bare fact. He discusses the social instinct in us and how Steiner education tries to overcome egotism and foster a sense of being sociable. The teacher doesn’t need to focus on either marks or rewards but help and guidance. This facilitates a ‘spirit of emulation’ instead of competition. A focus on success is replaced by a focus on sound results.
In a dedicated chapter, Edmunds answers questions on discipline, eurhythmy, religion, changing schools, coping in a modern society after Steiner schooling, games in Steiner schools and so on.

Overall the book presents Steiner education as a sensible and practical way to approach the education of children.

A wonderful opening of the Galway Steiner National School

On Tuesday September 1st, 2015 Galway Steiner National School proudly opened its doors to our first class of junior infant children. We are so happy to finally have a Steiner National School in Galway. It’s going to be a great year ahead.

On their first day, the children arrived to take in the new surroundings, and rest upon the carefully selected wooden tables and chairs, and crafted playthings, lovingly worked by hand over the previous months. The children settled in to enjoy free play, storytelling, beeswax shaping, games and drawing, amongst other activities. Time was spent getting to know their new fellow classmates and their teachers, Shane O’Connell and Rachel Conneely. After all the recent work and preparation in advance of term, this autumn is exciting time to see the children arrive to play and begin their journey through their early school years.

We wish to express our heartfelt thanks to all those who have so kindly given of their time, energy and enthusiasm over the years to make this dreamed of school a reality. We thank each and every one of you!

A short report on the Galway Steiner National School Public Meeting, June 5th 2015

This evening, a well attended group of parents and members of the community met with Shane O’Connell, the new principal teacher of the Galway Steiner National School. The room was packed to capacity, and following a brief history to the school, outlined by Lindsay Myers, Shane O’Connell took the floor and outlined his own background and vision for the school. His talk was followed by a questions and answers session, where parents expressed their enthusiasm of the benefits of Steiner pedagogy generally, and several details of the school were discussed in more depth.

We look forward to keeping everyone updated on the next busy two months, and be sure to get in touch if you wish to help out in any way.

Meanwhile, for those who couldn’t attend, Shane spoke on Keith Finnegan’s Galway Bay FM Radio show earlier today. The seven minute interview is well worth a listen.

Principal teacher announced for Galway Steiner National School

Shane O'Connell

Galway Steiner National School, which opens in September, 2015, under the patronage of Lifeways Ireland, has appointed Shane O’Connell as its principal teacher.

A public meeting will be held at the Clybaun Hotel on Friday June 5th, at 8pm, where parents who have enrolled their children, teachers, and all those interested in finding out more about the new school, can meet with Mr O’Connell.

Shane O’Connell is a passionate educationalist who believes that learning should happen in an integrated way, with the parents, child and teacher all working together as part of a learning community. He has a wealth of experience in teaching, special education, and school leadership, and he has worked for six years in primary schools in Cork, as well as in Africa, and more recently at the International School of Havana, Cuba.

Ever since he began his teaching career in 2002, Shane has had a long-standing interest in Steiner pedagogy, and he is delighted to be returning home to lead Galway’s first ever Steiner National School.  Shane said: “This is a unique opportunity and I am privileged to be part of this wonderful project.  An amazing effort has gone into getting the school this far along. I look forward to working together with parents, staff and children to create a truly holistic Steiner experience for the children of Galway.

Galway Steiner National School will deliver the Irish Primary Curriculum in accordance with the core of principles of Waldorf Steiner education.