New ‘Living with the Land’ course launching September 2020


By Andrew Martin, Head of Outdoor Work, and Feline Charpentier, Teacher of Outdoor Work

From September 2020, students in 6.1 will be able to choose a new Outdoor Work (ODW) course as one of their sixth form options. ‘Living with the Land’ is a two-year course which will equip students with the practical skills to live lightly off the land, enabling them to look at the wider context for the issues surrounding the environment and our impact upon it. Living with the land around us means having a greater awareness of our environment, living with the seasons, trying to reduce our footprint and applying our new-found knowledge to other aspects of our lives and the community.

It is a natural progression from all aspects covered in the ODW BAC, however it goes into far greater depth and includes significant self-directed work, including a portfolio and a ‘major’ project in the final year. There is currently no clear pathway for a student wishing to take a more practical course at sixth form in environmental subjects. The closest comparable courses are Countryside Management, Food Skills, Sustainability or the planned Natural History GCSE. No courses combine traditional building, cooking and craft skills with aspects of ecology, sustainability and community.

The main topics within the course will be shelter, food and craft. By stripping things back to these basic necessities, we aim to equip students with the skills and understanding they need to survive in a world where self-sufficiency is becoming increasingly important. The course aims to base students’ learning within a wider community context, making it less about the self and more about the world at large.


Natural building is a construction system that places the highest value on social and environmental sustainability. It assumes the need to minimize the environmental impact of our housing and other building needs, while providing healthy, beautiful, comfortable and spiritually uplifting homes for everyone. Natural builders emphasise simple, easy to learn techniques using locally available renewable resources. Natural building means paying more attention to all the details of how the world really works.

This module will cover the following areas:

  • The context for natural building/What is natural building
  • Design and Planning
  • Natural Building Materials and Techniques
  • Application of these techniques through the creation of a dwelling with the potential to spend time living in it.


Sustainable food production involves learning about the natural environment and all the usable and edible elements within it, from herbs to animals. Cooking through the seasons, making the most of bountiful harvests to see us through the cold months, baking with heritage wheats, making butter and cheese, bacon and pickles. All the skills we need to survive and live off the land. A balance of the practical with the theoretical – discussing the repercussions and consequences of our food choices – organic, local, seasonal, fair-trade, arable or pasture, carbon use etc.

The main modules covered are:

Preserving, Foraging, Baking, Butchery, Dairy


Generally, by ‘craftsperson’ we mean a man or woman who, through training and natural aptitude, develops the ability to produce an object or a piece of work from natural materials that is useful and, at the same time, beautiful. There is a huge upsurge in interest in making and doing, as people are seeking opportunities to escape the modern pressures of life and immerse themselves in something ‘real’.

To live with the land requires numerous unique crafts that have developed over generations, all of which are highly skilled disciplines and require years of dedication and practice. Throughout the course we will look at the crafts and skills that are directly involved with living with the land here at Bedales.

This module will cover the following areas:

  • Blacksmithing
  • Wool – weaving, knitting, spinning, fleece
  • Animal Husbandry – health care, breeding, diet, daily care and welfare
  • Gardening – planning, propagating, plant care, winter crops, harvesting
  • Green woodworking – types of wood, hurdle making, carving, weaving
  • Land care- ecology principles, livestock, hedgerows, coppicing

Find out more about each of the modules and the proposed assessment framework here.