TILDA Swinton today defended parents’ rights to opt out of state education in favour of the Steiner Waldorf education system which her own twin kids attend.
The Oscar-winning star, who lives in Nairn, said an Oxford professor had told her that state education was so under question the top university “longed” for Steiner pupils who still have a love for learning.
Swinton, 52, spoke out as she mixed with teachers, pupils and visitors at an open day for the Moray Steiner School and the recently-opened Drumduan Upper School in Forres, Moray.
Ms Swinton, 52, is a trustee of both schools and a co-founder of Drumduan.
Xavier and Honor, her 15-year-old children with artist John Byrne, are pupils at Drumduan.
The London-born actress said promoting the schools, which take a holistic approach to education, is her only current project, adding that there was “a misunderstanding” about Steiner education as people think it’s ‘flaky’ or ‘woolly’.
Ms Swinton, who won an Oscar for best supporting actress in 2008 for her performance as a ruthless corporate attorney in the legal thriller ‘Michael Clayton’, said: “When I went into the Steiner school for the first time, I was struck not only by the trusting and familial atmosphere for younger children, but mainly by older children, because I had never walked into a school before where teenagers had been so welcoming and self-possessed and kind.
“The older children play with and care for the younger children.
“There is, very often, a misunderstanding about Steiner education, because of the emphasis on the arts, and the children seem so carefree.
“A misunderstanding that the education might be ‘woolly’ or ‘flaky.
“As my children go through education, I am continually more impressed by how rigorous and engaged all the learning is.”
She added: “I heard of a student who got a double first in physics from Edinburgh University, who said that all he was ever interested in was science and if he had an education other than Steiner then he would have been another ‘geek’ - unable to do anything other than his subject.
“But through the Steiner system he had to learn other crafts. The Steiner had nurtured him to become a fully functional person.
The actress said how top universities valued the love of learning instilled in pupils of the alternative system.
She said: “The new upper school, which has only recently started here, is largely inspired by the extraordinary example of the acorn school in stroud which, under the auspices of whose founder, graeme whiting, has twenty years experience of achieving a 100 per cent success rate in placing students at universities, including oxford and cambridge without involving state exams at any point on the educational journey.
Ms Swinton cut short promotion of her 2011 Oscar bid ‘We Need to talk about Kevin’ to do a cleaning shift at the Moray Steiner School.
The mum-of-two jetted back from Spain to scrub floors and wash windows at the Forres school.
Taking her role at the school very seriously, she said at the time: “There is a regular rota.
“In order to keep the fees down it’s necessary for parents to take part in cleaning the school on a regular basis.”
Steiner schools are based on the philosophy of Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner who founded the first in Germany in 1919.
There are now 1026 independent Steiner schools across 60 countries.
The schools concentrate on educating the “whole child” with a strong emphasis on creativity.
The educational philosophy’s overarching goal is to develop free, morally responsible, and integrated individuals equipped with a high degree of social competence.