Together with its prep school (Dunhurst) and pre-prep (Dunannie), Bedales School has been providing an innovative co-educational boarding school education for over 100 years at its stunning location on the edge of the South Downs National Park in Hampshire. If you wish your child to grow up as a name rather than a number, Bedales School may be the right choice for you. Bedales is a school willing to stand up to the educational establishment, encouraging children to be themselves in a creative and stimulating environment, which means they are constantly changing and responding to meet their needs. Many schools have mourned the progressive devaluation of GCSEs, but few have come up with a solution.
Bedales School wanted to introduce a curriculum that mirrored their ethos and they have led the way in replacing some GCSEs with their own more demanding Bedales Assessed Courses (BACs). The environment inspires learning; they have a wonderful oak-beamed library, theatre, and a new award-winning art & design building.
The founder, John Haden Badley, wanted to educate the whole person – ‘head, hand and heart’ and so Bedales education encompasses not only academic study but also outdoor work: they have a working farm, animals to tend, a forge and bakehouse. A strong ethical thread runs through the three schools; a huge variety of fundraising events – many of which are organised by the students – take place throughout the year. The community at Bedales School is distinctive, defined by individuals who are at ease with themselves and relaxed with others. The ‘no fear’ culture reigns both in and outside the classroom. Students speak up without worrying about making a mistake. They are actively encouraged to ask lots of questions. This expansive approach opens minds and stimulates independent thinkers who are well prepared for life beyond Bedales.
Boarding at Bedales School
Bedales is a boarding school. Day students are completely integrated – to the extent that they usually follow the same full, intense school day that may run from 8.30 am to 9.30 pm. Boarders can opt to go home between Saturday lunchtime and Sunday evening (many do, others don’t), and there are times when attendance at the weekend is required – for drama or music rehearsals, for instance, or during the Whole-school Effort (the annual weekend of work on the estate).
Mixed-age dormitories are a unique feature of Bedales boarding. Students in 6.1 (the Lower Sixth) share much of the responsibility for running the boarding houses, taking a pastoral role with the younger children and working closely with the house staff. In 6.2, students live in the separate co-educational boarding house (although with boys and girls on different floors), which acts as a half-way house between school and the independent living they will face in higher education.
Every boarder forms a close bond with a member of the boarding house staff, who pays attention to the student’s overall welfare and well-being and is in regular liaison with the student’s tutor and parents.