Information about the „Freie Waldorfschule Graz“
Overview Waldorf in Austria and in Graz
In Austria there are 12 Waldorf schools, three of which integrate pupils with disabilities. The Freie Waldorf Schule Graz has about 300 pupils and covers classes 1 to 12, making it one of the bigger Waldorf schools in Austria. There are 45 teachers, most working part-time. The “Freie Waldorf Schule Graz” was founded over 30 years ago and is situated on an extensive property owned by the city of Graz which has leased it to the “Waldorf School Association” for 99 years. The school is a private school under public law with its own curriculum based on the pedagogy of Rudolf Steiner.
The other Waldorf school in Graz, the “Karl Schubert School”, also covers classes 1 to 12 and is an integrated school. There are five Waldorf kindergartens in the city, one at each school and three at other locations. There are two creches for children under three, which are attached to kindergartens.
Terrain, buildings and rooms
Across eight different buildings there are classrooms, the kindergarten, workshops for woodworking, “modelling art” (clay, stone, pottery), a smithy, and a building for needlework and weaving. For theatre presentations, meetings and lectures there is a school hall and a gymnasium. There are also rooms for eurythmy, music lessons, the school orchestra, chemistry, a library (for children and adults), and rooms for the school administration. The property includes playing areas for both kindergarten and school children, a garden for growing vegetables and fruit, a beehive, a soccer field, and another garden for classes 9 to 12. There is a school kitchen, at which parents and guests are welcome, serving lunch for teachers and children who have afternoon lessons. There is an after school care centre for children from classes 1 to 6 whose parents work full-time. These children get lunch from the school kitchen where they do homework under the supervision of a teacher.
Our co-ed classes have about 25 children, though for some lessons (music, hand-work, gymnastics, foreign languages) they are divided into two groups. School starts at 8am and finishes at midday for classes 1 to 3. In classes 4 and above the lessons last longer, ending at 1:30pm for class 5, while the upper classes also have afternoon lessons.
Every class has a class teacher, who stays with the class for 8 years. Classes 9 to 12 have tutors for organisational matters and problem-solving. The first two hours of the school day are devoted to the main lessons, taken in blocks of 3 to 4 weeks. The main topics are mathematics, writing, German, history, and science. This is followed by special topic lessons such as foreign languages, handwork, sports, music, religion, eurythmy, arts, gardening, literature etc.
Our special: „The moving classroom“
For the last 12 years our school has developed a concept for the lower school called “the moving classroom”. It was introduced as an increasing number of children showed a lack of physical mobility. A key reason for this is the living circumstance of many children, as families in the city often live in relatively small flats with no garden. Furthermore, many children are immobile while watching TV or using computers, which are now becoming popular even for children of kindergarten age. At our school, teachers recognised that many children have difficulties balancing and climbing. To counter this, the concept of the “moving classroom” promotes mobility.
There are no desks and chairs in the mobile classroom but rather low benches with cushions to sit on while writing or drawing. These are easy to clear away to create space for balancing, jumping rope and movement games. Class 1 also has an adult in the class to support the class teacher. The school has teachers trained to support children with learning difficulties, e.g. dyslexia, and social or mental problems. These children are provided with extra lessons.
Throughout the year there are various annual celebrations. Before Christmas comes a bazaar with books, handcrafts, workshops for the children, tea-rooms and cafes. In summer, a festival is held with music, plays and dance. On St. Michael’s day the children of class 11 build a big paper dragon, which is shot with bows and arrows by the children of class 5. There are also games and activities through which all children can test their courage.
Creative and artistic skills
The school also places much emphasis on dramatic arts. In class 7 children rehearse a musical project, class 8 presents a classical play, class 10 creates a musical, class 11 a play in a foreign language (English or Italian), while class 12 farewells the school with a play.
Children at our school learn two foreign languages, English and Italian, right from the beginning. They also make a lot of excursions, starting with short trips to the city of Graz or visits to local handcraft shops. Older children take walking tours into the mountains or cycling trips to the countries neighbouring Austria.
The higher classes (9 to 12) gain work experience in various ways, such as spending three weeks on a working farm in class 9, and doing a work experience inland or abroad for at least 5 weeks in class 11. In class 12 they are doing a three weeks social work placement (for example, at an institution for disabled people). Some pupils take part in a student exchange programme, and the school always welcomes visitors from other countries. After 12 years at our school, students have the option to spend a final year at a state secondary school so they can graduate through the state school system, or they can go on to learn a profession.
Organisation and finances
Our school is governed by parents and teachers together. Parents are represented in all school groups and are solely responsible for school finances. The school budget comes from school fees (approximately 75%) paid by parents, with the rest provided through financial subsidy from the government. The fee for one child is about €300 per month, although there are no fixed fees as we have a means adjusted system that allows parents with lower incomes to pay less than families with higher incomes.
Freie Waldorfschule Graz
St. Peter Hauptstraße 182
Tel.: 0043 (0)316-402606