Seasonal shifts

It was another bright, breezy morning as people set off from around the country to come to our conference on boarding yesterday. We are at that time in the year when the annual shifts in student lives take me by surprise, however much I have seen it a few times before – in particular our 6.2s have their last normal working week, with routine teaching stopping for them on Saturday in advance of their A2 exams beginning in earnest after half term.

For my quartet of tutees – the two head boys and two head girls – there is inevitably a sense of reflection on the past as we chew the cud on how the experience of being student leaders has been for them.  Last Wednesday, when my job swap fellow head and now friend Geoff Barton did the Bedales side of the equation (I having visited his school in Bury St Edmunds earlier in May), was one of those days when we saw glimpses of ourselves through the eyes of someone who had no prior direct experience of a boarding school. Last Wednesday provided one of those glorious English summer late afternoons, so the four head students sat on the 50 Church Road patio chatting with Geoff, whilst I dotted around pouring tea and chipping in – even the wisteria was playing its part.

Tutor time at Keith's

Geoff had a packed day at Bedales – plenty of touring, both with Block 3s and with me – a variety of meetings (Curriculum Policy Group), a Block 4 Review (discussing the progress of that cohort over the past 6 weeks) and, following assembly (me on student leadership) and handshaking, a housestaff strategy meeting which ended with supper with the dozen or so colleagues.  Now we both have to sit down, think about our experiences of looking into each other’s worlds and write our pieces for the Times Educational Supplement.

In the meantime, Geoff has been busy defending maintained school headteachers against some of the easy political gestures that our politicians make. Here he is sparring with John Humphreys on The Today Programme (scroll to 53 minutes).


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.