Celebration of the inspirational Headmaster Tim Slack

Imagine a headmaster who, when he starts, is a mere 15 years older than the oldest student in the school – 32 to the eldest student’s 17; and he is younger than most of the teachers. That was what it was like for Tim Slack when he started here in 1962, as we were reminded when we celebrated Tim’s life at a genial Thanksgiving Service in the Lupton Hall on Sunday. Consider also the fact that the school’s founder, The Chief, Mr Badley, was living in Fairhaven (overlooking what is now the astroturf); and that you would preside over his 100th birthday celebrations (in 1965 with a production of A Midsummer NIght’s Dream produced by Gyles Brandreth) and his death in 1967, when, because of the differences of opinion amongst Old Bedalians about John Badley’s religious beliefs, there was something of a controversy about what should happen to his remains.

It was such a privilege for me to get to know Tim, especially during the last few years of life when he returned to live in Steep. He came back to Bedales to talk to the school and to parents on several occasions and was irrepressibly energetic and upbeat. It was a particular treat to hear him talk about his relationship with Mr Badley and how supportive The Chief was of Tim when, against the wishes of many in the community, he needed to develop and enlarge the school from 240 to 340. The school that Tim took on in 1962 had uniform, prefects and still carried many of the vestiges of the austere, Fabian Society-influenced school of the 20s and 30s; the school he handed on in 1974 was recognisably what it is now and very much influenced by the tide of change that had swept through Europe in the late 60s. Tim was an inspiration to me – not least because he was determined to enjoy the business of being a head and he had the courage, tenacity and energy to move things on.

You can see here a short film of Tim Slack talking about John Badley.

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 school. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.