Celebrate the difference

To Frensham Heights on Monday for the Celebrate the Difference conference that Andrew Fisher and I have been co-running for the past 5 years. This time the theme is different kinds of leadership. Distinguishing feature of CTD is that it is a joint student and staff day. Nick Vetch, who founded and chairs the Big Yellow Group, sets us going with a self-deprecatory account of his own mistakes and near misses, followed by a series of key qualities that make for good leadership – courage, integrity, strong communication and self-awareness; then it’s into workshops and, within them, 2s or 3s for small group discussion. At the plenary the focus shifts to ways in which our schools can provide opportunities for student leadership – and whether leadership can be taught. Intriguing for the 17 Bedales students there to see the way that the different values of the 5 different schools show themselves in the views of their students. Next year, it’s with us: a plan is hatched and some cunning wheezes (suggested to me by the students that I drive back) to avoid that sense that you have at so many conferences of too much talking and listening and not enough learning by doing.
By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools

Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.