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For over 25 years, the Steiner School in Camphill Community Ballytobin near Callan, although working primarily with special needs children, welcomed children of all abilities at primary level. This experiment of inclusion was very successful and of great benefit to both groups of children.

The establishment of the nearby Ballyhall Steiner Kindergarten in 1995 increased interest and added to the numbers attending the school. The beautiful rural setting surrounded by woods and garden, farm and orchard, together with the rich cultural life of the community also contributed to interest in the school.

Gradually, a committed group of past, present and future parents decided to establish an independent school in the area. Our vision of the school is constantly evolving, but our intention is to offer an alternative and holistic form of education to children in the South East.

We, the parents, teachers and pupils of KSS believe that we are stronger working together. Our Kilkenny Steiner Primary School is not state subsidised. The school is run entirely by co-operative action between the parents and teachers. This is not just a financial commitment. While everyone appreciates that parents life circumstances may limit the level of input that’s possible, parents are actively encouraged to be involved in all elements of our community, from management to maintenance, fundraising to future planning. Parents, pupils and teachers also come together regularly to celebrate various seasonal festivals throughout the year.

A community, much more than a school, Kilkenny Steiner is a community. I remember the feeling I had when I first stepped into the school, I was honestly moved by a feeling of belonging.  School had finished yet nearly everyone was still there, children of all ages playing together, even my 2 year old was included. The teachers laughing with parents and children and just a general feeling of joy.

Ita – School parent – April 2020

Parents thoughts

During our journey every child and parent has been accepted for what they are. There is no pressure to conform to any structured belief system. This engenders a beautiful tolerance and respect for others, which is manifested in the children. ‘Hands, Hearts and Minds’ is a beautiful philosophy. The movement and creativity and music has allowed Leah to blossom and instilled wonderful self belief.


Giving children ‘time to play’ echoes in my mind as a phrase used repeatedly in a local Steiner Kindergarten [Thomastown Kindergarten]. The wonder expressed in the eyes of a small child of the things they they see, hear and smell seems to apply to older children too… their lust for life and their search for answers is met through the activity of doing, with their hands, with their head and their whole being. 

Having moved my 11 year old from mainstream school to the Kilkenny Steiner School, the spark that was once so visible in his early years has again been reignited. The resulting sense of self-worth, and ‘learning how to learn’ while enjoying it too, are I believe, building blocks for a healthy, confident and (hopefully!) considerate adult..

Mark; Parent, April 2020

I’d never heard of Steiner education before my daughter moved there at 10 years of age. She was in 5th class in a mainstream school when she started to struggle.  Academics wasn’t the reason. She was anxious and felt she wasn’t as good as her peers. Her emotional self was being neglected. Steiner was recommended to me by a good friend whose children were attending. It was a huge leap of faith for us but I can’t begin to express how it’s changed our daughters life. I STILL don’t know a lot about the Steiner method but I DO know, it has opened up a creative, funny and sensitive girl who could so easily have been lost to a life of constant self doubt. THIS is how school should be for all.

Lorraine – Parent, April 2020

We wanted a school that would foster our son’s creativity, imagination and wellbeing. We hoped he would experience an education of the ‘head, hand and heart’. The Steiner approach takes it’s time with formal learning and so Milo has time to play, explore and experience the world as he progresses towards formal learning. 

Our son is happy and content in a lovely small school community. He enjoys lots of outdoor learning, movement, singing and stories. Ballytobin is a magical campus and we are delighted to be able to give this educational opportunity to Milo.

Catherine-Ann; Parent April 2020

We chose Steiner education for our children because we believe it offers a truly child-centered and holistic approach to education where balancing the child’s engagement of head, heart and hands informs the entire curriculum. The strong focus on rhythm and how this is reflected in the structure of the school day resonated strongly with us. We feel the use of movement as a learning tool as well as the fostering of the children’s creativity through artistic means such as drawing, watercolour painting, drama, music, wax and clay modelling create both a meaningful and joyful learning environment.

For us Kilkenny Steiner School is a place where children are allowed to be children and where they can learn and develop at their own pace. It is somewhere where their natural curiosity is awakened and nurtured. It means peace of mind as we know our children are receiving an education they deserve and one that is wholly respectful of their stage of development. We also value the community spirit and the opportunities to gather together, whether for work (garden / DIY days) or pleasure (to celebrate the various festivals).


From September 2019 – January 2020 I spend my time as a “teaching assistant” at the Kilkenny Steiner School. I was an extra support in the three classes. The assistance of pupils belonged to my daily routine, as well as the preparation or the realisation of single units of the class (e.g. painting with aquarelle colours, units in maths, support in the gardening tunnel). The active school day schedule was normally from 9 am – 3 pm. Especially children who profited from one-to-one support became my attention in class. The supervision during break time and the participation at festive days and celebration (e.g. Michaelmas, St. Martin, Advent), as well as outdoor-activities, craft and creative work with paper belonged to my agitations.

The community of the Kilkenny Steiner School is very international and the children, parents and staff made my daughter (11) and myself (coming from Berlin) feel welcome and at home from the very beginning. They made it easy for me to cope with my double role as a mother of a pupil and as a teaching assistant an class for the five months living and working in Ireland.

My personal insight of the months that we spend in Callan is that the philosophy of teaching and learning without pressure and competition, in the kids own pace, with patience and humour, rhythm, music and the seasons, “heads, hearts and hands” allows children to truly explore and develop their inner self, nurture the curiosity to find out about themselves and the world and create an awareness of everything that surrounds.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Kilkenny Steiner School and to have given my child the gift of experiencing herself in a ‘different world’ – gaining a new language, new friends and the realisation that a bit of braveness, openness and tolerance broadens ones horizon – a share that carries though life.

Manja – Parent, volunteer classroom assistant – April 2020