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Advanced Highers To Be Introduced To Exams Diet

The Advanced Highers diet is to be extended inhouse beyond Art (above) in the next two years. Rather than merely be viewed as several notches more academic than Highers, their self-directive, playful characteristics, that are similar to a first year at university, draw on the best elements of the Steiner Waldorf curriculum that the exam subjects compliment.


An Evening on the Upper School was held in the School Hall last Tuesday. Interim Head of School, Nick Brett, confirmed ESS Board of Trustees have committed to introducing Advanced Highers into the Upper School offering in the next two years. Opening the evening, he noted:

“Our intention is to establish secure routes out of the School and into further education. At the moment we offer a wide choice of Highers and Art Advanced Higher. Advanced Maths is achievable for those who want the challenge.

Our aim is for pupils to be able to access Advanced Highers on the timetable. Our proposals to achieve this have begun and are supported by the trustees.

Over the next year we aim to bridge the gap between now and then as part of the School’s offer. The form of which is being discussed and proposed at the moment. It is something that the School will make moves to achieve as we need a broad spectrum of pathways which all pupils can achievable whilst also
maintaining the Steiner Waldorf curriculum.”

The Working Group of College of Teachers members will continue their thorough exploration into how these qualifications will be integrated into the Steiner Waldorf curriculum that stands our School as a valued alternative to mainstream independents in the Capital.

Alistair Pugh, a long-standing Upper School teacher with over twenty years at the chalkface, many of those as the SQA Coordinator, spoke about the inherent value of the Main Lesson Programme that is designed in a spiral to meet the needs of the pupils – a feature that deliberately deviates from the linear approach found elsewhere. In this way, the Main Lessons enjoyed by each year group come to be defined and coordinated by an overall ‘theme’, namely ‘Contrasts’ in Class 9 (touched on below in the Balck & White drawing piece).

Subjects such as Climatology and Embryology (above) satisfy the pupils need to know ‘how?’ in Class 10, gathering data and proving theories, as well as focusing on the start of life, captured under the theme ‘Limits’.

‘Journey’ in Class 11, epitomised by the Parsival Main Lesson, which deals with authority, community, responsibility, careers, meets the 16- and 17-year-olds.

‘Synthesis’ in the final year deliberately reflects on the curriculum whilst circumventing a sense of conclusion, for school-based learning is far from the end of the learning road. “If pupils come out of a Main Lesson with more questions than answers, it’s a job well done”, Mr Pugh himself reflected, noting that it is the learning how to get informed that is crucial.

Advanced Higher Art Teacher, Penny Reid, shared the examiner’s surprise and awe at how creative and adaptable Edinburgh Steiner pupils are with their art portfolios and the ways in which they approach when exploring a topic. One pupil, by example, decided to work in a fish shop for a day to get closer to her subject matter ‘mermaids’.

Class 8 Project (2023)

Hester Machin spoke about the alternative passport to summative exams – the suite of Integrated Education qualififications offered by Kato Education (formerly Crossfields Institute). Pupils in Class 8 gain experience at becoming experts in a field themselves through the Independent Project, which is equivalent to a GCSE or National 5. In the Upper School pupils then begin to work on developing the Creative Thinking Skills. The four learning outcomes that are required to be demonstrated are 1. connections, 2. different perspectives, 3. communication, 4. Reflections. A third module, Personal & Social Learning, has been added this year (teachers observing how the pupil is learning). There is an IE Diploma that is part of the suite, currently being offered in a sister Steiner Waldorf school, that is making headway as a valid path to university entrance.


Kirsty Macdonald-Russell gave an insight into the services the School offers in regards to examinations, applications to universities – both immediate and after a gap year – as well as the inherent value in both opening the pupil’s mind to a Plan B and focusing more on whether the pupil stays in the degree course choosen, by being a good initial fit for the pupil. A personal statement undergoes some seven drafts before it is submitted, which the School provide the resources to support. The rich Steiner Waldorf curriculum beyond exams is also interwoven into the application, which is highly prized by universities, who look beyond exam points.


Science Teacher, Michael Hooper, delivered a humorous account of how he can tackle the curiosities of the pupils in front of him in the Main Lessons, whilst always having an eye on what is up ahead in the exam curriculum. By the time he recieves the pupils for National 5 Biology or Physics, and later Highers, he knows the pupils’ capabilities in far more depth than if he was meeting them for the first time as an exam choice. Touching on exams specifically, Mr Hooper noted that he sees the most academic pupils continue to get into the places they want to.


Class 11 pupils, Bella and Luca, were unanimous in expressing that what they valued the most was their releationship with their teachers, which encouraged them to strive higher.

The evening had a very positive turn out, in spite of the dreich night outside, filled with a room of engaged parents (and a peppering of pupils).

Read the full Tuesday Notice here: Edinburgh Steiner School’s weekly ezine

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Class 9 Play On Thursday

No School Next Thursday & Friday

Child Protection Parents Evening – Education, Empowerment and Strategies for Online Safety

Christmas Market Bulletin

Raffle Tickets Brought Home Tomorrow

Help Needed To Prepare The Garden For The Christmas Market

Tickets Selling Fast For Children’s Activities

Tree Felling On Campus

Advanced Highers To Be Introduced To Exams Diet

Host Families Needed For Coburg Class 8

Christmas Market Bulletin

Class 12 Wecome Seven Key Speakers On Religion

College Hold Awareness For The Conflict

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