Sunfield residential special school was established in the 1930s by Michael Wilson and Friedrich Geuter. It was inspired by, and based on, the anthroposophical principles of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, and quickly became one of the leading Curative Educational Communities in the UK.
Originally located at Selly Oak in Birmingham, Sunfield’s first carers offered their support on an entirely voluntary basis, and were selflessly devoted to the cause. In the early days, public perception of disability was very much ‘out of sight, out of mind’ but the team at Sunfield steadfastly believed in pioneering a different, more holistic, approach to the care and education of disabled children.
In response to hard times, and guided by Steiner’s principles, Sunfield became a self-contained community; growing its own biodynamic crops and producing a large part of the school’s furniture in its workshops. This was in addition to selling their hand-crafted furniture, pottery and Christmas cards through a small shop on the perimeter of the site. The vibrant community spirit stoked the determination of the team. Eventually, in 1933, thanks to its loyal benefactors and supporters, Sunfield was able to move to its current location at Clent Grove near Stourbridge.
Over the next fifty years, Sunfield continued to thrive, with new buildings and facilities added, including a communal hall and a pool for hydro and colour therapy. Additional therapies such as play, painting, music and movement were also practised, and a small farming project encouraged children to become involved in the growing of produce and animal husbandry.
Alongside all these developments, Michael Wilson and his team conducted vast amounts of research, which not only influenced the future direction of Sunfield, but also inspired others working with disabled children, both at the time and today.
As a residential special school, Sunfield is no longer closely associated with Steiner’s principles, but the holistic values and community spirit of its founders remain. The combination of this 80 year heritage and today’s foremost theories and practices enables Sunfield to support children and young people with some of the most profound and complex special needs and challenging behaviour in the UK.