On Sunday 8th January a small ceremony took place at residential special school, Sunfield, based in Clent.
The school began in the 1930’s inspired by, and based on, the anthroposophical principles of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. It was even visited by Mahatma Ghandi, who praised its innovative work to help people with learning disabilities to succeed and flourish, at a time when wider society viewed them as “ineducable”. Like Sunfield’s founders, he understood intuitively the importance of valuing the common humanity of all people.
In 1933, a few years after it was founded, Sunfield re-located to its current Clent based site. On 4th June 1933 Dr Ita Wegman, a close associate of Rudolf Steiner and significant leader of the anthroposophical movement, led a ceremony to bless Sunfield.
Brought from Sunfield’s original home in Selly Oak, a wooden casket known as ‘The Foundation Stone’ was placed in the wall at Clent Grove’s Main House, to symbolise the bringing together of old and new.
The casket contained very small pieces of seven metals to represent the planetary forces. Gold for the Sun, Silver for the Moon, Iron for Mars, Tin for Jupiter, Quicksilver for Mercury Copper for Venus and Lead for Saturn – but in the year 2000, it was discovered that the gold was missing from the foundation stone.
On Sunday, people gathered to mark the replacement of the gold and to honour the intentions and work of the visionary group of people who founded Sunfield.
Caroline Bell, Sunfield’s Principal said, ‘The Sunfield that we know and love today is no longer closely associated with Steiner’s principles but many of the values and the strong community spirit of our founders remain. We continue to support and believe in young people who have struggled to thrive in wider society; the specialist education, care and therapy they receive at Sunfield, together with the ongoing love and support from their families, helps them overcome the many barriers they face in order to succeed and flourish, now and in the future.
We’ve now marked the beginning of a positive new chapter for Sunfield, honouring the past and looking to the future, where we hope to reach and support a greater number of young people who need us.’