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211 Education: Preschool, primary and secondary learning


Learning to engage young


heads, hands and hearts For more than a century, Bedales School in Hampshire has cultivated a liberal, holistic approach to education


more humane alternative to the authoritarian regime of the late-Victorian public schools,” says Bedales’ Headmaster Keith Budge. “His philosophy, based on learning through head, hand and heart, is something that has stayed with us to this day.” Located on a 120-acre estate in the village of Steep,


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Hampshire, Bedales is an independent, co-educational boarding school with around 750 day students and boarders aged from three to 18. Te school was one of the first in the UK to become fully co-educational (a process it started in 1898) and the first to give students a formal voice with the creation of its student council in 1916. Te importance of cooperation has been an


hen John Badley opened Bedales School in 1893, he had a specific goal. “Badley wanted to create a


enduring part of the school’s ethos—reflected in the motto “Work of Each for Weal of All”—and students have assisted in the construction of many buildings on the estate. One of Bedales’ more recent innovations has been the


development of Bedales Assessed Courses (BACs), the school’s own alternative GCSE curriculum. Identifying a lack of depth and rigour in GCSEs—and following extensive consultations with students, parents and universities—a suite of BACs was launched in 2006 to complement compulsory IGCEs in English language, mathematics, science and a modern foreign language. Tese UCAS-recognised qualifications allow for greater depth and breadth of study within disciplines and a greater emphasis on coursework throughout the year. “We’ve also found that when students go on to do A levels, the step up to sixth form is not such a big one,” says Budge.


Te arts of success Bedales is renowned for the quality of its arts teaching and 27 Bedales leavers were awarded places at the UK’s top arts colleges in 2014. Old Bedalian David Linley is patron of a campaign to raise £3.5 million for the development of a new art and design building, set to open in September 2016. In 2012/13, researchers from Harvard tested the school’s


aim of developing “motivated and independent thinkers with a love of learning” and found that 98 per cent of students reported positive motivation levels. Several of the school’s key aims—such as developing positive relationships and encouraging autonomy and choice—were found to directly support this unusually high level of engagement. Te success of these aims is also reflected in the incredibly


diverse range of professions in which Bedales alumni are represented—from diplomats and politicians to artists and opera singers. “It says a lot about our ethos,” says Budge, “and how we encourage freedom of thought, inquisitiveness, creativity and determination”. It appears to be evident in the head, hands and heart of every Bedales student. — www.bedales.org.uk


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