By Robert Thomas for the working group for the right to the legal name
The working group for the right to the legal name consists of representatives of the International Forum for Steiner/Waldorf Education (IF), IASWECE and the German Association of Waldorf Schools (Bund der Freien Waldorfschulen)
Waldorf education began almost one hundred years ago and has by now reached sixty nations on five continents. The question of the protection of Steiner's educational concept has therefore become an urgent issue. We are impressed by the high number of independent initiatives which people have set up for this educational impulse. The power for these initiatives comes from the cooperation between people and from anthroposophy as the impulse for individual, educational and social practice. We take responsibility for this spiritual movement in which many initiatives have been set up in a somewhat uncoordinated manner.
For decades, the German Association of Waldorf Schools (Bund der Freien Waldorfschulen) has supported the development by carrying, supervising and financing the rights to the legal name. The Association would now like to hand this international task over to an international body.
The task of monitoring all schools, kindergartens and Special Needs institutions has become more complex, time consuming and heterogeneous. In this day and age of anonymity and levelling, the necessity for protection has increased.
The German Association of Waldorf Schools has historically been the owner of the rights to the legal name of the brands 'Waldorf' and 'Rudolf Steiner'. In early 2016, the German Association and the International Forum for Steiner/Waldorf Education (IF) in cooperation with IASWECE (International Association for Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Education) have agreed on a method to award a licensing contract for the brand 'Waldorf' and 'Rudolf Steiner' to educational institutions in countries without any associations. In numerous meetings and after some clarifications, a committee consisting of representatives of the German Association, the IASWECE and the IF has developed a solution-oriented method. It is primarily centred around the protection of the brand names and focuses on the transparency of the method. The method should prevent arbitrariness and misuse but should also set up processes which help to establish identity.
During the pilot phase, which is now running, the cooperation between the German Association, the IASWECE and the IF is defined as follows:
1. Responsibility for the process: The German Association of Waldorf Schools is the legal representative and aims to hand the responsibility over to an international body.
2. The legitimation of the process is granted by the activities of the IF and IASWECE (panel of experts)
3. We aim to create an unbureaucratic licensing body.
4. The evaluators for the schools are chosen and coordinated by the IF; the evaluators for the kindergartens are chosen and coordinated by the IF in cooperation with IASWECE. The evaluators are experienced teachers and educators who base their evaluation on Key Characteristics of Waldorf Education, a paper approved at the IF meeting, May 17th, 2016 in Arles, France. The evaluators are free to conduct the evaluation on the basis of their individual discernment. The written expertise will be forwarded to the licensing body.
5. The licensing process has three phases:
✓ Application: The institution applies for the use of the name 'Waldorf' or 'Rudolf Steiner' and defines the intended purpose (school, kindergarten or other)
✓ Assessment: Two evaluators assess the institution, this should happen on-site wherever possible. The assessors send a written report to the licensing body and the institution.
✓ Decision: The license is granted if both reports are favourable. The license is refused if both reports are not in favour. If the reports are disparate, a third expertise is carried out.
The institution and the IF are informed of the decision. If one of the stakeholders disagrees with the decision, recourse to arbitration will be granted. The arbitral board decides whether the process was conducted in the correct way.
In a next step, we will evaluate the situation in the countries with associations in order to find more clarity and stability on a national level.
Thus, our international cooperation is expected to bear fruit.
Translated from the German by Karin Smith