Stimulating and enjoyable visit to King Edward VI School

Keith at King Edward VI School

Farming duties this morning involve a brief look at the three remaining Jacob’s ewes yet to lamb, the teeming progeny of the remainder of the flock (now out suitably frolicking in the field), a curt greeting to the (now thoroughly adolescent) quartet of pigs, a check on the four new Budge hens (who have, finally, with some guidance from their keepers all realised the benefit of spending a night in their hutch rather than roosting on top of it) and taking our two mutts for a walk in the sparkly dawn light.

Lots to absorb from yesterday, which I spent in Bury St Edmunds, initially at Hardwick Middle School and then at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds. Fascinating, stimulating and enjoyable, this was the first leg of a mini job swap that I and King Edward’s headteacher Geoff Barton are doing. The idea is that we each have a day in each other’s schools and then write about our thoughts: what have we found that we like in the other school? What might work in our own school? Also, more broadly, the visits should provoke ruminations about whether the differences between independent boarding and state comprehensive are as different as the stereotypes suggest; and, of course, whether there are more ways in which the two sectors could work more closely together. Geoff will be visiting here on 13 May. We will each write something for the Times Educational Supplement.

In the meantime, based on my time at King Edward’s, here are just some of the areas that I found myself initially interested and impressed by: head student leadership, student council – a different model, student leadership on overseas visits, China exchange, tracking and use of data, debating, online student magazines, sixth form working environments and political engagement.

Above all, I came away with a strong sense of the things we have in common – and of the warmth and candour of the many teachers and students I met. I am very much looking forward to Geoff’s visit in a couple of weeks’ time.


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.