School Organization

One of Waldorf education's central premises is that all schools should be self-governing; that the people who are practical experts on education — the teachers — should decide issues directly relating to pedagogy. Most Waldorf schools thus do not have a principal, but rather a group of committed, long-term teachers who decide on pedagogical issues. This group is often known as the college of teachers. It is usually open to all full-time teachers who have been with the school for a certain period (often two years). Most colleges of teachers decide issues on the basis of consensus.

At the same time, many school issues are not pedagogical in nature. Most schools have a board of trustees to deal with the rights of the children, parents, teachers and staff, as well as all legal responsibilities of the school.

There will also be a group responsible for the economic stability of the school. These three groups normally meet in various combinations to ensure cooperative solutions of problems that touch several of these areas. The principle of maintaining separate but cooperating overviews of the three areas of pedagogy, rights and economics is connected to the principles of social three folding.

Though each school is an independent entity, Waldorf schools are also linked together, usually at the national level, in cooperative associations such as the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) or Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship (SWSF) of Great Britain. These organizations are formed by the schools themselves to serve the schools.

There are various levels of membership. AWSNA states that:

New initiative membership is for those new initiatives who have the intention to become a Waldorf school but have not yet started their grade school program. This is an entry level affiliation with the Association. It is constituted to help strengthen the resolve of an initiative to begin and become an independent Waldorf school.

Developing school membership is for youthful schools who have early childhood and grade school programs, who want a relationship to the continental movement, but who are not yet ready for sponsorship.

Sponsored school membership is for a school who is very close to maturity and is pursuing full member status. A full member school adopts or sponsors a school such as this for a minimum of three years.

Full membership indicates that a school has matured to stand in the world as an example of Waldorf Education. After fulfilling the requirements of the Association as outlined in the booklet Steps to Membership, a school takes part in delegates’ meetings for discussion of common goals.

Such school associations determine which schools can use the protected name "Waldorf", based upon the accuracy of this description of a given school's pedagogical approach.

There are also international associations:

The Pedagogical Section of the School of Spiritual Science is the central research coordinator for Waldorf education. The Pedagogical Section also has branches in many countries.

The Friends of the Art of Education help with practical support and financing of schools in countries that are unable to provide these through their own resources.