Moorland Waldorf School

Mandala

The children of Class 1/2/3/4 have been working with great enthusiasm on a mandala during their craft lessons.  The mandala’s focus is on numbers and it was started with a human being at the centre, for the number one.  The children have been very engaged and have shown great creativity and inventiveness. And with all it’s herbs and spices, it smells wonderful in the classroom!

The children in the main class also have been learning about the life cycle of a butterfly and particularly looking at the peacock butterfly which loves nettles. We had a Native American story about how nettles came into being and about their healing properties.  We then donned our gloves and went to pick some nettles, making sure to say “thank you” so as not to get stung.  We then made nettle crisps, drank nettle tea and boiled some to make a dye.  The dye was not as successful as we hoped but we spoke about how we could improve the method and possible causes for it not working  and we agreed, some more reluctantly than others, that we should do it again.  If at first you don’t succeed try and try again!  A good life lesson!

Wetland Project

It was in September of last year that we began a small wetland restoration project in the grounds of Moorland Waldorf School in Botton. 

The children were excited to be part of this project. They understood that their work of dam building is a vital natural function that would once have been performed in this area by enthusiastic teams of beavers. The children took up the task with appropriate beaver-like enthusiasm!

For the heavier work, we brought in volunteers from the Esk Valley Camphill Community. Many tons of earth were shifted in this manner. It was at times backbreaking work that occupied the entire winter, in the mud and rain (my son recently remarked that the photographs were reminiscent of the Battle of the Somme!).

However, the big news is that the job is finally finished! The final touches were done during the recent “Earth Festival” in Botton , when the dams were completed. The area (approximately 150 m²) was planted with willow, hawthorn, reeds, and various other indigenous aquatic plants.

And then the big moment came, when we redirected a nearby spring into our new wetland area. There had been some nervousness amongst my school colleagues, that this moment might serve to flood the school, which is just a few metres below the new wetland. While my earlier reassurances had only partly mollified them, I am pleased to say that the big moment passed without incident!

The photographs give you an impression of a series of terraced ponds and marshy areas, which we hope will prove to be a rich and diverse wildlife haven into the future.

In ecological terms, tree planting often gets all the press. However, the humble wetlands and marshes are a much-underestimated resource for biodiversity, as Moorland Waldorf School’s children will tell you.

By Mark Barber

(This was first published in the Esk Views publication April 2022)

Come and join us at Stay and Play!

Why not join us at Moorland Waldorf School for our friendly Stay and Play sessions?   We meet every Friday in term time from 10.00 -12.00 at The Village College, Botton where the school is based.

Parents, grandparents, carers and children (from babies up to age six) are most welcome.  

There are indoor and outdoor activities, stories, songs and play for the children, plus the opportunity to meet up with families from around our area who are looking for a different kind of parent and toddler experience. 

Our Stay and Play sessions are based on Waldorf educational principles, with an emphasis on the freedom to explore in play, to enjoy the benefits of being in nature, to use the imagination and to learn through stories and songs.  

If you’d like to know more, give us a call on 01287 661206 and speak to Claire.  Our office hours are from 9.00 – 15.15 Monday to Thursday and 9.00 – 12.15 on Friday.

There’s a small charge of £5 per family, which includes a drink and a small snack.  

We look forwards to seeing you! 

A Grandparents View

My granddaughters are present or former pupils at Moorland Waldorf School. Right now, one has just started kindergarten, two are in the main class (class 3) and one has just left to attend a local primary school for her transitional year before moving on to a state secondary school.

When they first went to Moorland Waldorf, I knew little about Waldorf (perhaps more commonly known as Steiner) education. But I’d worked in education for my entire career. A product of state schools myself, I’m a passionate believer in public education and spent my early career as a secondary teacher. I moved into higher education and later found myself in advisory and policy roles. But over the years, while my commitment to the principle of state education didn’t wane, I became increasingly disillusioned by the way that government interference in policy and curriculum seemed to be wringing the richness out of learning.

At first, I admit that I had my doubts about Waldorf education. I worried that children didn’t learn to read until they were six, that mixed age learning would perhaps hinder progress, or that the very firm avoidance of computers and screens in day-to-day teaching was rather old -fashioned.

But Moorland Waldorf School has been a great start for my granddaughters. This is education based on firm beliefs about the simple pleasures of childhood, the joy to be found in all aspects of learning; an education that closely observes and nurtures the individual child, allowing them to explore and learn at their own pace, free from the pressures of testing. The children spend lots of time outside – no lip service to so-called ‘forest school’ for them, almost every day their play and their learning take them into the beautiful natural world which surrounds the school. No subject is left out but – just in the same way that life doesn’t come neatly packaged – subjects and ideas are woven together to allow better understanding of the way the world works. And there’s room for everything – art, craft, music, languages, history, geography, as well as reading, writing, maths and science. It’s a truly rounded education.

And my fear that the girls would somehow be ‘behind’? Well, the oldest has just joined a mainstream primary class in year six and as a confident and capable learner has had no problem at all in keeping up with her peers.

By Linda Parker

Call for Trustees!

Eskdale Community Trust for Education, the trust that runs Moorland Waldorf, is looking for one or more new trustees to join the Board. We are keen to recruit trustees with skills in the following areas: finance, HR, adult education, and charity law. The area of expertise is however less important than a commitment to Waldorf education and a desire to promote the education of children and adults in our region of North Yorkshire and we welcome expressions of interest from people in any field. As well as the normal charitable duties, our trustees are managers of the school which means that individuals take some responsibility for different aspects of the school management. We meet virtually so trustees do not have to live locally, although attendance at some meetings and events is desirable. This is an interesting and rewarding role for someone interested in charity governance and in our broad educational remit. If you’d like to know more, please contact secretary@ecte.org.uk.

Lantern walk – Martinmas

This Thursday 11th November will be our Martinmas festival where the children walk through the village with their candle-lit lanterns.


We will meet at the church in the village at 4.30pm. If you haven’t been to the church before, you get to it by driving past the school into the village centre and carry on until you cross the small bridge. You will see the Joan of Arc Hall, which has parking at the back, and the church is adjacent to it.


The children have been making lanterns in kindergarten and school but please feel free to bring your own from home with real candles please, rather than battery operated lanterns.

ECTE Moorland Waldorf School Hardship Fund

At the Eskdale Community Trust for Education, we have a dream, and that is that one day Waldorf Education will be free and accessible for all, but we cannot do this without help from others. As a first step in this direction, we are fundraising for our new Hardship Fund, dedicated to help parents who have found themselves in financial difficulty, due either to the impact of covid-19 or to other significant changes in their circumstances. We recently received a legacy of £1,000 from Mrs Joyce Gaynor and we will use this to start our Hardship Fund. Legacies like this are a vital part of our fundraising efforts and we are extremely grateful for this contribution.


Our target of £35,000 is ambitious. We believe that our existing school fees of £3,500 a year are currently the lowest of any Waldorf school in the country and this has been made possible through the hard work of teachers, volunteers, the support of the Esk Valley Camphill Community and the generosity of the families in our school and wider community, our alumni and our supporters. A hardship fund of £35,000 would allow ten children to attend our school free of charge, or many more children to attend at a subsidised rate.


We know times are hard for everyone at the moment. But if you have a connection to the Moorland Waldorf School (formerly known as Botton School), or a passion for Waldorf Education, or if you believe that Waldorf Education should be available to all, no matter what their financial circumstances, then please consider giving to our fund. Even a small donation will make a difference.

Please give here if you can. Fundraiser by Eskdale Community Trust For Education : ECTE Moorland Waldorf School Hardship Fund (gofundme.com)

Thank you.

The Fundraising Team

Advent Fair 2021

Our Advent Fair will take place on Saturday 4th December from 11am until 4pm.

There will be our usual stalls of craft and Christmas gifts, activities for children including the puppet show plus delicious food and drinks.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Learning about the natural world

Over the last four years, Moorland Waldorf School has been developing an innovative nature studies curriculum, which we hope begins to equip our children for the profound reassessment of our relationship to the natural world that their generation will be called upon to make.

Our approach begins with developing in our children a moral relationship towards the natural world. We experience wonder at its magnificence and beauty, and the countless mysteries hidden within it. We learn respect for its intricacies, inter-relationships and symbioses that too often elude our human comprehension. And we practice reciprocity in our interactions with the natural world, ensuring we give back in the same of measure with which we take.

Treading lightly and respectfully into the natural world, we enter it with sharpened senses. This is the beginning of our scientific approach. Ours is not a science that dissects, analyses, and reduces the wonders around us. Instead, it endeavours to comprehend them in all their living complexity.

This year, the focus of our outdoor studies lessons will be a small “rewilding” project on the school grounds. Having fought with nature for years over a small piece of land prone to flooding, we have decided to allow it to be what it wants to be: a bio-diverse willow wetland. The children will help to create this exciting new habitat, and in the process they will learn invaluable lessons.

Bogs and marshes are not necessarily considered attractive landscapes, but they create a haven for insect life. Sometimes insects get a bad press, but their catastrophic decline in recent decades accounts for a parallel decline in our birdlife. By recreating a marshy landscape, we are returning this small piece of land to a state that much of the British Isles existed in before we drained it so extensively for agricultural purposes. By damming and flooding our little wetland, we are performing the function that our indigenous beavers would once have performed.

Throughout the year to come, we will weave our lessons with traditional folklore and indigenous stories. In this way, we both reconnect with and re-mythologise the extraordinary landscape we live in.

In everything we do, our aim is not to burden our children with the scale of the environmental crisis facing us, but instead to point them towards a path of healing.

Woolly Workshop

Half term craft activity

Come and try your hand at carding or spinning using a drop spindle.  Learn how to knit or have a go at felting.

Monday 25th October from 10.30 am until 12.30 pm.

Moorland Waldorf School, Botton Village (YO21 2NJ)

Suitable for adults and children of all ages.

Cost is £15 for an adult and one child. (Additional child £5).  This includes all materials and refreshments.