Brussels, 25 March 2020

Schools in Europe: How do you cope with distance learning?
Send us information on your approach and we will disseminate it to our members and interested schools.

In the Euro­pean Coun­cil for Stein­er Wal­dorf Edu­ca­tion, we fol­low the devel­op­ments around the Coro­na pan­dem­ic close­ly. Schools in many places are closed and more and more of them are oblig­ed to offer dis­tance learn­ing to their pupils or feel the urgent need to make an offer to fam­i­lies inde­pen­dent of legal obligations.

We there­fore try to help our mem­bers by explor­ing the dif­fer­ent answers that our schools and mem­ber fed­er­a­tions have found in deal­ing with this immense chal­lenge and by mak­ing avail­able a good prac­tice col­lec­tion from Wal­dorf and non-Wal­dorf schools across Europe. This can sub­se­quent­ly be used to devel­op online train­ings or to facil­i­tate peer-learn­ing between inter­est­ed teach­ers. Today, we would like to share with you our first result of research with­in our net­work and ask for your help in shar­ing fur­ther prac­tices. Today, we would like to share with you our first result of research with­in our net­work and ask for your help in shar­ing fur­ther practices.

The Distance Learning Plan of the International School Basel

Our Swiss col­leagues have shared with us the Dis­tance Learn­ing Plan of the Inter­na­tion­al School in Basel. The school also devel­oped a Dis­tance Learn­ing Por­tal that can be accessed here with the user­name „“ and the pass­word „Distance.Learning“. A big thank you goes to the col­leagues at the ISB for mak­ing avail­able these valu­able resources.

They were devel­oped by the ISB togeth­er with their Asian col­leagues and gave ISB teach­ers a head start in prepar­ing its staff, just in time before the virus start­ed spread­ing in Europe. Their work can now serve as a poten­tial start­ing point for devel­op­ing a gen­uine Wal­dorf answer to these chal­lenges our­selves. While a Wal­dorf school might want to give less weight to the use of dig­i­tal tools, we share the plan with you, because we believe that the frame­work cho­sen might help you to devel­op a sol­id frame­work of your own.

The plan defines clearly:

  • The role of par­ents, edu­ca­tors and pupils;
  • The devel­op­ment-ori­ent­ed approach of the school towards using dig­i­tal tools;
  • The tasks of the col­leagues involved;
  • The chan­nels of communication;
  • The dis­tance learn­ing sched­ules for pupils replac­ing the reg­u­lar time-tables;
  • The time­line for rolling out the plan in the school.

Please help us better understand the situation in Europe

But what exact­ly is the pic­ture in Wal­dorf schools in Europe? Do you have guid­ance for your schools from the fed­er­a­tion or are the schools left to fend for them­selves? We would be inter­est­ed in see­ing what strate­gies have been devel­oped and col­lect them cen­tral­ly for fur­ther dis­sem­i­na­tion. There are many ques­tions to ask our­selves, and what­ev­er answers you find to them is high­ly inter­est­ing for us:

  • What roles have your schools defined for par­ents, edu­ca­tors and pupils in terms of dis­tance learning?
  • How does your school’s or fed­er­a­tions approach respond to the devel­op­men­tal needs of chil­dren and what is your expe­ri­ence with it so far?
  • In your expe­ri­ence, what are the best screen-free tools for dis­tance learn­ing of dif­fer­ent age groups (school books, oth­er books, build­ing blocks, puz­zles, board games, …)?
  • How are par­ents sup­port­ed in lim­it­ing their children’s task-switch­ing between school-relat­ed and recre­ation­al screen media use (e.g. lim­it access to devices to cer­tain hours, use time lim­i­ta­tion and fil­ter software, …)
  • In your expe­ri­ence, which pro­por­tion of the for­mer school hours should be spent with offi­cial „dis­tance learn­ing“ activ­i­ties and which pro­por­tion should be spent with every­day activ­i­ties (e.g. shop­ping, cook­ing, clean­ing, gar­den­ing, ..), or phys­i­cal activ­i­ties (exer­cise, walk­ing, …) con­ducive to learning?
  • In your expe­ri­ence, and giv­en the cur­rent Coro­na pre­ven­tion mea­sures in place, what are the best ways to sup­port chil­dren’s phys­i­cal, psy­cho­log­i­cal and men­tal well­be­ing (salu­to­ge­n­e­sis, fos­ter­ing health, …).
  • In your expe­ri­ence, what are the best screen-based tools (online and offline) for dis­tance learn­ing of dif­fer­ent age-groups?
  • In your expe­ri­ence, how important/suitable are group activ­i­ties online (for many stu­dents), vs.  1:1 online (tele­phone or video chat) ses­sions for your stu­dents of dif­fer­ent ages?
  • How are you coor­di­nat­ing the work with syn­chro­nous tools (like Zoom calls) and what rules are need­ed to make this work?
  • What are the tasks of the col­leagues involved with regards to dis­tance learn­ing and respond­ing to the Coro­na pan­dem­ic in general?
  • What lead­er­ship mod­el is need­ed in these times and how to col­lab­o­rate with colleagues?
  • Are there any dis­tance learn­ing sched­ules pro­vid­ed to pupils to replace their timetable, and if yes, what kind?
  • What has been your time­line in rolling out a dis­tance learn­ing plan in your school?
  • What are the short-term and medi­um term train­ing needs and how to address them under the cur­rent circumstances?

How can you share material?

Please send us an email to [email protected] if you have any mate­r­i­al to share. Once we have gath­ered the mate­r­i­al, we will review what you have sent in and look, if there is a poten­tial to facil­i­tate a video con­fer­ence allow­ing for peer learn­ing. We will also exchange the mate­r­i­al with the Ped­a­gog­i­cal Sec­tion at the Goetheanum, where a sim­i­lar col­lec­tion is feed­ing into a blog on home­school­ing in times of Coro­na. Thank you for help­ing us!

Focus­ing on the pos­i­tive, the Coro­na pan­dem­ic presents us with an oppor­tu­ni­ty to bring our organ­i­sa­tion up to speed on dis­tance learn­ing and dig­i­tal col­lab­o­ra­tion tools and to tie some lose ends. This is a chance to start a round of crit­i­cal reflec­tion at the Euro­pean lev­el and to explore the man­i­fold soci­etal and edu­ca­tion­al effects of dis­tance and online learning.

A question? Please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Georg Jürgens

Georg Jürgens