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Upper School

In the Upper School the third seven years of life begins. We work on guiding the students through from 14 to 18 and help prepare them to take over as independent guides to their own destinies.

Our goal is that students enjoy learning, to learn how to learn and always question why.

The aim is to provide young people with opportunities to develop their creativity, initiative, flexibility, interest in the world and the ability to communicate their ideas. We nurture empathy, social competence and self-motivation as well as practical problem-solving capabilities and formal academic skills.

All students study all subjects – practical, artistic and academic – sciences, crafts and technologies, humanities and arts. This gives students a broad experience from which to choose their future specialised tertiary study or work.

Each day is carefully balanced between academic, practical and artistic subjects to generate wellbeing and allow students to integrate their learning. Main Lessons are taught in the morning for 2 hours for a period of 3-4 weeks. This continuous concentrated study of one subject allows for more in-depth learning than the equivalent hours spread over period timetabling.

The curriculum is designed to be in harmony with the inner development of the students as they move through adolescence and into early adulthood.        

The ideal of Waldorf education is that the students leave it as free-thinking individuals who are able to make their own moral judgements, and participate in practical activities.

Truthfulness is the most important value in the Waldorf Upper School. Students can’t be forced to hold opinions which conflict with their own experience, as this would affect the fundamental purpose of developing free thinking.

Waldorf students impress with their clarity of thinking, the objectivity and originality of their judgements, and their vast array of general knowledge.  Waldorf students are better equipped with the resilience to overcome the stresses of our modern age. They have the ability to think outside the box, and adapt to our quickly changing world where the jobs of the future cannot be predicted.

To view our latest Education Review Office (ERO) Report please click here

In Class 9, students turn 15. The curriculum mirrors the inner struggle of opposition that students feel. In physics they study the opposition of heat and cold; in chemistry, the expansion and contraction of gases; in history, the French Revolution, and in literature, comedy and tragedy.

Students of this age stand at the edge of a new world, wondering how to navigate the seas of excitement and danger and responsibility for themselves and for the world.

A capacity for stringent logic awakens within the Class 9 student. This new power of thinking allows and requires distance from self and others. The students develop a clearer structure to their thinking and are able to make causal deductions. There is a move from judgement based on feeling to judgement based on observation and understanding. The students demonstrate a growing ability to discover the underlying principles behind phenomena by using analytical processes.

The teacher must deliver every lesson without bias. Even a person like Joseph Stalin is presented as the man who modernised Russia, as well as a ruthless dictator. The students must be left to form their own moral judgements. It is the development of ideals and beauty in the lower school that comes into play when studying such characters, and these developed feelings affect the student’s discernment. Thus feelings weave with thinking, and the students develop their own ethics in freedom. In Class 9 the curriculum focuses on many polarities reflecting the adolescents’ need to swing from one extreme to another, in doing so, they develop discernment according to their own truth. It is important that they have the opportunity to do this, as enforcing morals simply acts as something to rebel against.


What is part of Class 9 curriculum?

In Class 9 all subjects are compulsory. All students study art, craft, physical education, music, technology and cooking.


English lessons focus on the technical skills of oral and written argument, debating and discussion styles. Essay writing skills are extended and various writing styles and texts types are explored. Literature content offers examples of catharsis, humour and of tragic and comic heroes who struggle with the dark and light aspects of themselves.

The English curriculum in general is oriented towards integrating the thinking- feeling- willing capacities of the students and to offering them literary examples that inspire their high idealism.

The continued focus on fostering the imaginative faculties of students of this age helps them to see the point of view of the other.



Topics include statistics, algebra, geometry and trigonometry.

Distinguishing between contrasts provides a wonderful area of study for the student to sharpen their thinking. Mathematics provides an excellent forum for the application of structured, logical thinking to make judgments based on observation and understanding rather than emotional response. Students are brought topics that kindle interest in the world around them. In this way, they acquire knowledge about what interests them through independent gathering of information and facts. Mathematics begins to encompass technology, and the students begin to appreciate technology as a cultural creation of human beings.

Statistics offers an introduction to the area of Mathematics concerned with the prediction of events and outcomes, and the likelihood of their occurrence. Students encounter the various ways of ordering information, and discover the concepts of permutation and combination. The many patterns within, and applications of Pascal’s Triangle are investigated. Statistics is presented as the practical application of this theory in the collection, presentation and interpretation of data to generate meaningful information about a situation.

Working out of Steiner’s indications for the students of this age group, Algebra brings an experience of the manipulation of abstract concepts regarding number. Beginning with the concrete and practical, the students deal with increasingly complex algebra of polynomials and the solution of simultaneous linear equations in 2 and 3 unknowns, the factorisation of quadratics and surds arising out of squares, triangles and pentagons. The extension of concepts from concrete and perceptible to abstract serves to nourish cognitive processes within the students that allow them to develop confidence in the power of their thinking. This provides students with the impetus to become enterprising individuals, who show initiative, explore ideas, and use their creative abilities to make discoveries about the worlds around and within them.



Topics include chemistry, physics (the telephone and combustion engine), human biology, and geology.

The intellectual strength to understand technology empowers the adolescent in appreciating what underlies the world in which they live. The historical perspective builds respect for the ingenuity of those inventors of the past and motivates invention for the future.

The approach to  chemistry in Class 9 brings an understanding to substance which allows clearer understanding about alcohol, greenhouse gases and anaesthetics. This understanding plays a role in the young person finding their own orientation in the world.

To learn how to create a medicine from basic ingredients is transformative and empowering for an adolescent. The gradual refining of substance accompanies an inner refining process. The final product after a term’s work might be a little labelled jar or bottle that represents hours of careful and skilful work. A love for the detail of life is cultivated.



The year is characterised by a transition from knowledge to cognition. Meeting the needs of the students, now capable of examining historical forces at a deeper level, Modern History is considered in the light of ideas that motivated change and shaped the world we live in. Students study major events and turning points from the beginning of the 19th Century to the present-day. They examine current world issues and trace their historical roots. They consider accounts of events from multiple sources and perspectives in order to understand international relations from a variety of viewpoints. The inner experience of the 15 year old is characterised by powerful polarities – sympathy and antipathy, confidence and uncertainty. Comparative biographies can be chosen to bring historical information and to facilitate exploration of the inner questioning of the students.

The capacity for forming judgments is blossoming at this time and should be directed toward world-interrelationships in every field. The world must become so all-engrossing to young people that they simply do not turn their attention away from it long enough to be constantly occupied with themselves. For, as everyone knows, as far as subjective feelings are concerned, pain only becomes greater the more we think about it.

R. Steiner, Education for Adolescents, 1922.

In Class 10, the students reach 16 years of age.

In dealing with their emerging sexuality and particularly for boys, their growing awareness of physical power, sixteen year olds are faced with a threshold experience which presents an opportunity for the healthy development of individuality.

The sixteen year-old yearns to understand the world and to find their sense of purpose within it. The earlier Class 9 search for balance and harmony now begins to bear fruit. The development of greater clarity of thought and an increasing ability to form balanced judgments helps students to extricate themselves from the unstable nature of their emotional lives. There is a greater capacity for reflection, which can lead on the one hand to self consciousness and the pain of growing existential awareness, on the other they become capable of great feats of compassion, endurance, intellectual and physical prowess. The students begin to discover their own inner freedom to determine their pathway through life.

In Class 10, there is the possibility of a student exchange for those interested in improving a second language or experiencing another culture. We also offer students from other countries the opportunity to visit and study with us.


What is part of Class 10 curriculum?

In Class 10 all subjects are compulsory. All students study art, craft, physical education, music, technology and cooking. Students are introduced to formal, external assessment with Level 1 of the New Zealand Certificate in Steiner Education in numeracy and literacy.



Topics includes the birth of Literature – Canterbury Tales, Greek epic poetry, Norse & Old English sagas, Art & craft of Poetry, Drama, Fictional narrative, Language–writing workshop, Literacy-non-literary texts eg journalism, film, TV.

The English curriculum strives to meet the developmental need of students which seeks to master the relationship between theory and praxis. Emphasis is placed on providing inspirational literary role models and on the cultivation of aesthetic sensibility. Students are required to take increasing responsibility for their own work and behaviour; to be able to make and follow through choices based on their own insight; form their own opinions and be able to explain and justify them.



In Class 10 Mathematics, the student’s concept of number beyond the finite is extended. The Mathematical theory for Arithmetic, Geometric and Harmonic Sequences and Series is developed as a logical extension of the basic principles of number patterns. Practical applications of this theory are studied from sources as diverse as art, architecture and music, as well as the natural, built and business worlds.

Students also work to consolidate and strengthen their understanding of Algebra, and discover areas in which Mathematical disciplines which previously appeared separate begin to overlap and merge. Students are also exposed to different number bases and their applications.

Students learn about Trigonometry and its applications to areas as diverse as surveying, mechanics, navigation, engineering, physics, astronomy, mapping, military operations and construction. A thorough picture is presented of the historical significance and development of Trigonometry and Surveying, with emphasis on practical work, applications, mathematical theory and worked examples.



Topics include Physics, Chemistry and Human Biology.

The traditional areas of mechanics, kinetics, statics and dynamics are an exact and mathematically based physics, however, the attempt here is to gain, as well, a body experience of movement and force so that what can remain abstract in the mathematical formula becomes meaningful from an experiential perspective.

A developing appreciation of movement and force in the world and of the strains and stresses in the architecture of our built world. The appreciation is founded in the ability to be able to use one’s thinking to predict movement in an exact way, by calculation. This has a strengthening effect on the young person’s self assurance in relationship to the world.

Students should engage with themes from previous main lessons and develop in a project based learning environment. The emphasis is on applying understood ideas in a practical application, where the thinking is tested and linked to skills needed in the application.



The students have as a latent question: Is the Earth as a whole an organism or a dead inorganic form. The students can begin to answer this question in this block. We turn to the most varied movements of air, water, and the rock layers of the earth’s crust.

In the geography Main Lesson, as we turn to the most varied yet rhythmical movements of air, water, and the rock layers of the earth’s crust, the earth is explored as a living, dynamic and vital organism.Within the organism, as a result of such powerful and mysterious processes and events, diverse ecosystems and habitats are created. Such processes and environments both support, and challenge human activity and settlement.

Young people today may be very aware of diverse opinions and arguments on topics such as climate change and its impact. This topic supports full understanding of cause and effect in natural phenomenon and supports the 15/16 year olds yearning to orientate themselves in the world, to penetrate what is visible to them, and to understand deeper human issues which arise as a result of such global phenomenon. This further supports the development of an ethical consciousness.



Lessons are designed to maximise the student’s personal involvement. Students pose their own historical questions, carry out independent research and discuss their reflections and discoveries. They are encouraged to form well-considered opinions and to set goals and evaluate their success. They explore various and creative ways to communicate their ideas and responses to material.

Historical studies must now challenge the students’ growing capacity for analytical thinking. The reasoning skills that emerge with the adolescent’s development of formal thought allow an abstract understanding of causality – the often complex patterns of relationships between historical events and their consequences. There is a continuing need for concrete illustrations and instructional approaches to enhance understanding of historical studies. The study of Archaeological evidence and evaluation of archaeological opinion and techniques offer both inductive and deductive learning experiences. The 16 year old needs to experience that they come to their realisations through thinking.

In Class 11 students reach 17 years of age.

The themes of Class 11 are evaluation, inner and outer, with subjects such as atomic physics, cryptography, music aesthetics, where students learn how logical processes work with living principles. They study subjects such as Parsifal and the Middle Ages history where the metamorphosis of consciousness is further explored along with the deepening process of comparing inner morals and ideals with outer events and actions.

Parzifal is a journey into the medieval romance that Rudolf Steiner recommended as a deep study for the 17 year old standing on the cusp of adulthood.

This legend, composed by Wolfram von Eschenbach, is one of those stories that while clothed in the mysterious imagery of the Middle Ages, carries universal messages for our time. It contains images that both nourish the student’s emotions and inspire their minds with wisdom. Parzival is all about growing up and the getting of wisdom: “a good man slowly wise”.


What is part of Class 11 curriculum?

In Class 11 students participate in a compulsory broad curriculum including art, craft, physical education and music, with the choice of three elective subjects.  Electives may include art, craft, PE, music, science, mathematics and history. Students progress to Level 2 of the New Zealand Certificate of Steiner Education.



Students will study a significant novel or play and consider how text reflects the social consciousness of the time period and geographical location they were created in.

They will complete a piece of creative writing based on the idea of a character making a difficult decision. The purpose of this task is to demonstrate how authors create realistic characters as well as the literary techniques used to give texts authenticity and originality. The students will have the opportunity to study other texts in order to understand narrative point of view, a wide range of language features, as well as how to structure creative works.

Students will be asked to write a research report based on a documentary. The documentary should have strong tethers to a social movement or time period that is easily distinguishable and has strong historical context. The purpose of this report is to understand the effectiveness and/or accuracy of visual non-fiction, as well as evaluate the effectiveness of the medium as persuasive and/or educational. Students must demonstrate how visual techniques are used to manipulate emotions and biases.



Students explore point, line and plane in projective geometry. From the cryptology main lesson, students explore the keeping of secrets from hidden messages to blockchain. Assessment is based on practical exercises and personal research.



Topics include the periodic table including the major figures whose discoveries led to the modern periodic table, and the patterns in physical and chemical properties of the elements within the table. The microbiology main lesson explores the microscopic world of cells including those of plants and bacteria. It is practical and involves the culturing of bacteria, the making of slides, and the use of microscopes.  In atomic physics, the world of the atom is explored from a historical perspective from the early ideas of the Greeks to the modern Standard Model of Particle Physics. A range of topics from radioactivity, dating methods, and practical uses of radioactivity are covered.



Students will examine a trend of globalisation or development, describe its impact on society from differing perspectives and consider resolutions/solutions.



Students will research and study the perspectives of two or three historical individuals in relationship to a Middle Ages historical topic. They will demonstrate understanding of these perspectives and show the reasons for why they differ, the consequences of this, and demonstrate an empathetic under- standing for the perspectives of these individuals. Their assessment may take the form of either a structured research report or a clearly annotated artwork.



Students will experiment with modern art movement ideas, and research a movement of their choice. They will produce a research report, which must include the context, the philosophy or goal and key characteristics of the art movement, and a section of pictures of art from this movement.



Students will be taught in the core craft lessons how to create and bind a hard cover book that will be used for the Middle Ages main lesson. They will research and create an appropriate cover design for the book, and design and create at least three inside spreads that reflect the Middle Ages theme.


Physical education / Music

Students will be assessed on how well they perform in a physical or music activity. To meet this standard skills will need to be demonstrated in an authentic setting, such as during a game or music concert.



Students will listen and respond to music from different historic periods/styles/genres and respond to these in artistic, spoken or written form. Understanding of the music needs to be in relation to the historic period it represents.

In Class 12, students reach 18 years of age. In the final year of school the subjects are based around the themes of synthesis and the projection of future thinking. Philosophy is taught as a main lesson, but all the main lessons have a philosophical nature to them in this year, with subjects such as chaos theory, evolution, astronomy and contemporary history.


What is part of Class 12 curriculum?

In Class 12 students participate in a compulsory broad curriculum including art, craft, physical education and music, with the choice of three elective subjects.  Electives may include art, craft, PE, music, science, mathematics and history. Students progress may progress to Level 3 of the New Zealand Certificate of Steiner Education or complete Level 2.

In Class 12 students choose an independent project to work on throughout the year, a large component of which is expected to be done outside of school hours.



Students will study a variety of short contemporary texts with the purpose of completing a creative writing portfolio at either Level 2 or Level 3. Students are encouraged to use studied texts as prompts to assist their writing and to follow the features and/or characteristics of post WWII literature. Students should focus on creating realistic character-driven stories that are self-aware both personally as well as politically and socially.



Topics include astronomy, exploring modern cosmology and our understanding of the universe; and evolution. How can we possibly know about evolution when we explore it using our minds which is a product of that process? This main lesson looks at evolutionary theories in general and the evolution of humankind in particular.



With the Class 12 themes being synthesis and world consciousness, students will focus on one of the biggest social science challenges of our time, the forced displacement of over 65 million people worldwide. The students will use their powers of thinking to form their own understanding, as well as understanding the multiple perspectives surrounding social issues caused by displacement.



Students will prepare a written report on a modern conflict of their choice. Students need to demonstrate critical thinking skills, analysis of important issues and their own evaluation of the topic. Work must be well researched and include in text citations.



Students will produce a comparative essay on a philosophical question or problem, such as ‘Is there a God?’ ‘Do humans have freedom of choice?’ or ‘What is nature?’ and choose two different philosophers who have thought in depth about the philosophical question or problem. Students will apply these differing philosophies to a real life situation.



Students will design a contemporary building (their own home or an events centre). The finished design can be either an actual model, or a set of drawn illustrations showing a plan and views from different angles. Illustrations can be done by hand using traditional drafting equipment or it can be done using a computer programme. The design must be accompanied by a written commentary describing the design decisions.


Art and craft

Students will have the opportunity to create crafted objects and artistic works of their design, in art and craft lessons over the course of the year and select 10 pieces of 2D and/or 3D work for a portfolio to meet this learning objective. Work must meet a brief or art context, demonstrate understanding of the medium being used, ability to manipulate and/or transform the medium, and reflect effective use of principles and elements of art and design.

Students will produce a painting, poem or song that reflects a modern social issue or movement and creatively demonstrates conflicting perspectives, or alternatively a philosopher they have studied. The work will be accompanied by a written commentary or annotation explaining their understanding, and how this is expressed through their finished outcome.


Class 12 Play

Class 12 will work together to create a professional play. All students in the class are expected to perform on stage in the play. Performance anxiety is expected, and will be worked through as part of the process, leading to increased confidence and communication skills.


Class 12 project

The Class 12 project is an opportunity for students to choose a topic about which they are passionate and immerse themselves in it for a whole year. In the process, they will set themselves goals and expectations; they will plan it, seek advice and gather resources. Throughout the project they will learn a great deal about their topic, and will face and overcome many challenges. A wide range of skills will be needed, tested and developed: practical, artistic, research, organisation, public speaking, presentation, and determination. A successful Class 12 project is one that is thoroughly enjoyed and from which the student has learned a great deal about the topic and about themself; it will have stretched them and developed in them new strengths and abilities. When it is finished, they will experience a great sense of achievement. They will also gain New Zealand Certificate of Steiner Education points at either level 2, 3 or 4 depending on ability.

New Zealand Certificate of Steiner Education

Titirangi Rudolf Steiner School’s Upper School and University Entrance qualification is the New Zealand Certificate of Steiner Education (NZCSE), recognised around the world.

The NZCSE is registered on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework as a secondary school and university entrance qualification. The NZCSE Level 3 endorsed with University Entrance also has direct entry into New Zealand universities.

Under the Lisbon Convention, any secondary qualification gained in New Zealand has the same status as other signatory countries which include the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and most countries in Europe.

The qualification has also been taken up by schools around the world in Australia, Germany, Austria and the United Kingdom (growing yearly).

Students will also receive a Titirangi Rudolf Steiner School Leaving Certificate at graduation.


What’s different about the NZCSE?

The CSE allows our Upper School students to be fully immersed and assessed within the Steiner curriculum.

Because Steiner education puts a priority on the relationship of the learning material to the human being, subjects are purposely set in inter-disciplinary contexts wherever possible.

In addition, subject matter is taught through phenomenological or experiential methodology – that is, from observation of, and personal involvement with, phenomena leading to concept (inductive), rather than from presentation or description of the concept to confirmation of examples of that concept (deductive).

The NZCSE Level 3 programme also endows graduates with aptitudes and expertise not currently covered by, for example, NCEA equivalent achievers. For example, there is a comprehensive 200-hour research project, which is fully referenced, formatted as a published document and formally presented orally to a large public audience. It is a significant demonstration of self-directed, independent, responsible learning. Some students have gained entrance into competitive industries or university courses on the strength of this portfolio or project alone.

We believe that readiness for university level study is more importantly a combination of an attitude of enquiry, intrinsic motivation, disciplined values, and self-directed learning skills, in addition to specific preparatory content knowledge.


How the NZCSE works

Learning Outcomes for each subject are approved at the “correct” (NZQF) level, have an individual weighting against the whole qualification, and are described in terms of Assessment Criteria. Assessment decisions are made against criteria within four bands: Achieved, Merit, Excellence and Not Achieved.

Learning Outcomes are just the (preferably small) assessable part of any teaching and learning. They are not the course; they are not the content; they should not drive what is taught; ideally units or blocks of learning – if named – should be descriptive of what is taught/learnt, not what is assessed. From what is taught, an appropriate Learning Outcome (or more) is selected because that will be the best context in which to find the evidence.

Assessment can generally occur any time during a course, is integrated with learning and, where practicable, with other assessment events.

Assessment events include activities or tasks such as a project, assignment, essay, report, test, examination, product (e.g. art, writing portfolio) or performance (e.g. laboratory experiment, tool or materials handling, drama, speech, music and movement demonstrations).

The Level 3 qualification can include an annual external examination week which covers two selected Learning Outcomes from each of Level 3: English, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. The examinations are externally set, marked and moderated, to ensure equivalency to similar subjects offered at the same level in other institutions.

For all other assessment activities, there is a combination of compulsory internal moderation, and an external moderation process which quality controls the school’s assessment decisions and methods and confirms final results for students.

A student’s confirmed achievements are recorded on a database which create their Record of Learning.

A detailed and rigorous external moderation system to provide and ensure consistency and robustness to this qualification has been established and approved; it describes the requirements and processes of controlling, managing and assuring the quality of assessment against New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) levels, as well as assessment procedures, coherence and consistency between the schools.

The qualifications are necessarily based on what a teacher can see, read or hear – sometimes touch – that produces evidence of the student’s understandings, knowledge or skills in nominated areas that represent the curriculum. The assessment is objective, represents external agreed levels of achievement, and is externally checked, both before and after a task leading to formal assessment is given.


For more information about NZCSE visit


Work undertaken for the sake of results is least likely to produce them, and learning unaccompanied by reverence is unlikely to advance us far. Love for the work, not for the results alone moves us forward.

― Rudolf Steiner

International exchange

In Class 10, there is the possibility of a student exchange for those interested in improving a second language or experiencing another culture. Preparation for this must begin in Class 9. We also offer students from other countries the opportunity to visit and study with us.

So far, our school has welcomed guest students from Germany, France, The Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Russia, Switzerland, UK, Thailand, China, Japan, USA, and Brazil.

Steiner spoke a lot about bringing together peoples of diverse cultural backgrounds and the learning of foreign languages as a key feature of understanding each other and move towards global /cosmopolitan citizenship. Exchange programmes in Upper Schools are very much part of the fabric of Steiner Schools worldwide giving young people an opportunity to gain an understanding, first-hand, of other cultures through a linguistic and cultural immersion. The personal development they experience is often profound.

Exchanges are usually undertaken in Class 10, at around 16 years of age and have been happening here every year since 2016. Students prepare by undertaking their own independent study in the language of their choice. So far, there have been two students go to France (Paris and Avignon), three to Germany (Berlin, Hamburg and Überlingen),
one each to Denmark, Japan, Italy and USA. Currently students have plans underway for Argentina and Spain. There is no cost for exchange other than airfares, visas and spending money – accommodation and school tuition are reciprocated, making it a viable opportunity for many.

The advent of the Waldorf Schools was in my opinion the greatest contribution to world peace and understanding of the century

Willy Brandt – Former Chancellor West Germany, 1971 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.