By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools
Badley Celebration Weekend focuses the mind on what our schools’ values are. The past month’s series of events introduce new students to the place and what it means, whether that is Dunhurst’s climb to the Poet’s Stone or its camp, Block 3 in Ullswater, the Whole School Effort, Bedales’ own take on a harvest festival or Sunday’s community festival. It is interesting to step back and reflect a little on how we interpret the Badleyan vision – how it is, let’s say, incarnated.
Thinking of the sweep of history first of all: here are five perspectives for starters:
- 1900: John Badley brings his new school to Steep (from Lindfield near Hayward’s Heath). 69 boys and 7 girls. First task is to finish the main school building. Lots of hand work.
- 1909: Old Bedalian Camp. See the illustrations above. The list of campers gives you some indication of what the chat must have been like. Gimson and Lupton, for example, to whom we owe so much of our architectural heritage. Eckersley who, along with his brother, more or less invented sound engineering and was a founding father of the BBC. Rupert Brooke wasn’t at the 1909 camp but was a great friend of his namesake, Justin Brooke, and sometimes joined the group.
- 1922: John Badley’s Notes and Suggestions for Staff Joining Bedales: “Teaching is not telling but helping to find out.”
- 1966: The first year group where a student could have joined Dunannie and gone all the way through to Bedales. It is this cohort (of 55), the class of ’66, who returned to school last weekend. Many of them spent the better part of 10 years together – in school most weekends as well. They are in remarkably good shape and full of alarmingly distinguished people.
- 2016: Block 3s start out – their “50 year on” reunion will be 2071.
Activities from the last few weeks mirror the Badleyan desire that his pupils should not be feeble or ignorant about the world that surrounded them – they should know a hawk from a handsaw – and know how to use the latter, as a good number found out last Saturday in clearing an area of scrub by the Roman road.
But I suspect that what acts in its own mysteriously cohesive way – across these times and will continue to exert its spell – is the emphasis on relationships. So here is how The Chief put it in his 1922 leaflet mentioned above: “Our whole system at Bedales is based on intimate individual knowledge and personal influence. For the full value of co-education especially we must have in large measure the condition of family life.”