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Flagship School That Starts Late… And Finishes Ahead

We hold our first Open Tour of 2024 on Friday. Accepting admissions year-round, the ‘in action’ mornings offer a window into the Steiner Waldorf approach to education, visiting lessons spanning the Lower School to the Upper School as they unfold.


Accepting pupils throughout the academic year, we are the only school in the Capital that does not start formal learning until children are in their seventh year (the norm globally). Screen-free classrooms are provided for the younger years, where play is seen as central to learning and wellbeing.


Irrespective of whether pupils veer towards the arts or the sciences in their exam choices, they continue to receive a valuable grounding across all subjects in the older years. An exams diet across the disciplines is broadened by our rich Main Lesson Programme and the innovative portfolio-based Integrative Education suite of qualifications.


Our philosophy on media and technology makes ESS an outlier in the independent sector in Edinburgh. We consider its use isn’t a question of whether technology can add value in schools, but whether it adds more than it takes away. Distinctly, this ethos is relevant to all Waldorf pupils, whether their additional needs are safety, physical and mental health, achievement, nurture, physical activity, respect, responsibility and inclusion (no one area being more, or less, important than the others).


Beverley Selkon, one of our Pupil Support team, is passionate about helping pupils who find learning challenging. Bev As a fully registered SEN teacher with GTCS and a postgraduate degree in Special Needs Education Needs (SEN), Bev’s work focuses on the emotional well-being and academic needs. From this holistic standpoint, she considers screen-free classrooms to be beneficial for all Waldorf pupils in the younger years.


Introducing technical aid too soon can be detrimental as it hinders the pupils developing necessary spatial planning and organisational skills. They also do not get exposed to midline crossing as experienced when writing on a page. Eye tracking can also be impacted.

At our school pupils are not exposed to formal exams in the Lower School, as in other school settings. Therefore pupils do not need to rely on technology to assist with the vast amount of written tasks that are a focus in other settings. At Steiner Waldorf schools we focus on a more holistic approach to teaching.

Once pupils transition into the Upper School phase and are exposed to exam settings they are given the aid of technology.”


It is therefore at the discretion of College of Teachers as to the implementation and review of ICT use among new pupils in the Lower School.


Pupil Support is predominantly embedded in the Steiner Waldorf curriculum itself, which is regarded internationally as being supportive of the different learning styles of the majority of children and young people. 


It embraces cognition and learning – including those who are gifted or talented, neurodiverse learning styles and hindrances to learning that arise from autism, dyslexia, ADHD or trauma; communication and interaction – including English as an additional language provision; social and emotional wellbeing and mental health; and physical development and hindrances and sensory difficulties.


Consequently, we have a small Additional Support for Learning (ASL) service with a limited capacity for individual and classroom support. The Wellbeing Team brings this team together with Social Inclusion and Child Protection. Although we aim to work within the aims of GIRFEC, as an independent school we are unable to access funding streams or services available through the Local Authority.


Balancing the needs of pupils within a Class or year group is essential to maintain a healthy and diverse learning community with those bound for university studying alongside those who may pursue different non exam based options.


Since 2018, 49 pupils gained an IE Award, and 23 have been awarded their IE Certificate, after competing a ground-breaking module in Creative Thinking Skills, equivalent to a GCSE. The first cohort of pupils included these alternative educational passports to summative exams on their UCAS applications in December.

Visiting Students consistently achieve 100% pass rates in their Cambridge English Exam (2016 – 2023).

The most recent exam results for resident pupils were also very strong, with particularly successful performances in the departments of English, sciences and languages.

At Higher level, half of all Higher results (48%) were grade ‘A’ while the combined percentage of ‘A’ and ‘B’ grade results was 71%, compared to the national average of 57.3% (SQA).

Advanced Higher results (Art & Design and Maths) have been outstanding, with all candidates achieving an ‘A’ grade for three consecutive years.

A record number of pupils sat Nat 5s, with a collective pass rate of 93%, compared to the national average of 78.8%. 85% were graded A or B.


This overview of achievement does not rely on an academic entrance exam to join our school. In contrast to Edinburgh’s other independent schools, our admissions procedure means we welcome pupils of all academic abilities and value them for what they bring to the school community. In considering applicants, we consider it more important to balance the interests and aptitude of the pupil with the context of the whole Class group, with the ethos of the Curriculum and School, and with the resources the School has available. If we have the capacity to accept a child or young person with Additional Support for Learning needs, then we will. Our exam subject class sizes are consistently between 6 – 8 pupils.

Through this approach we help children to be happy at school and develop the life skills they will need to thrive.
NEXT OPEN TOUR: Friday, 2nd Febuary, 9am – 11am.

Alternatively, Wednesday afternoons are offered by Interim Head of School, Nick Brett and by Alistair Pugh to families who would like to come with their child/children.


To book a place on the tour or arrange a Wednesday viewing , contact Jenny in Admissions: admisssions@edinburghsteinerschool.org.uk


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Flagship School That Starts Late… And Finishes Ahead

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