New head students

The baton (of the athletic not police kind) is handed on: the strong 14/15 team of Margaret R, Rob M, Roly B and Esme A hand on their seals of office (fig.) to the incoming team of Max H, Becky G, Bea J and Patrick N.

The new team have already got weaving (fig.) – discussing with their peers other positions of leadership and service that they can take up next year. Here they are helped through their predecessors’ good initiative with a system whereby individual students act as champions of individual areas of school life – mainly academic subjects; the emphasis being on helping younger students with their work in that subject; jocularly named the dons system this has been piloted by the departing head student team and will be rolled out fully for September.

Alongside this, there is a good appetite amongst 6.2s to be a Badley Senior – again, very much a mentoring role, with some pig care thrown in, and playing to that strong feature of Bedales life – friendships which occur across the age range.

So here is a picture of the new head student team:

Head students 2015-2016Left to right: Max, Patrick, Bea, Becky

Passing muster

Wednesday evening’s assembly brings an unlikely combination of threads that need to be woven together: the announcement of the new head student team, the publication of our ISI inspection report and the annual appearance of at least one dog. The first is relatively straightforward as, by tradition, the new team merely appear and do their first “shush”, so big cheers (literally too) for Rob M, Margaret R, Esme A and Roly B who have been chosen after a long process, which began with their agreeing to be put forward, a school vote and then plenty of staff discussion. Then we at last receive the final version of our ISI inspection report: happily, not too much of the inspectors’ warm enthusiasm for the schools has been tempered by that shadowy figure, the Editor, and both the reports – the Bedales one and the Dunhurst & Dunannie one – read glowingly and take me back to the wonderfully heartening 2 1/2 hours of verbal feedback we had on the final day of last term.

Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but what about the dog? I am already slimming the canine element down as last year the annual dog assembly featured about 8 labradors and culminated in the appearance of the most cuddly of labradoodle puppies. So, the need to tell the school about the inspection and to introduce the idea of criteria means that we are confined to one dog – the unwisely named Budge dog Zazu – who, carefully managed by former deputy head girl Freya D, allows herself to be used as an example of labradorness. With the aid of the 18 Kennel Club criteria for what makes for the ideal labrador, I make a quick series of judgements on her various dimensions and characteristics: so, well done on not being cow-hocked and yes, you look close-coupled with half decent withers, but, oh dear,  bad luck with the feathery tail – not ottery enough, so merely good, certainly not excellent.

On to the report itself: above all I want the students to know that their close engagement with the their work and their warm, mutually respectful relationships with their teachers over recent years have been a massive factor in enabling this; also, their love of learning, inspired by their teachers, is evident not only in what the inspectors observed but also in the work that the inspectors scrutinized and in the results achieved – it is not just a matter of turning on the charm and the brains for a few days. Also, I want them to see that this has all been done within the Badley ideals, so we close with a picture of The Chief, looking suitably thoughtful, with his rather labradorish eyes.

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales School


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.

Marshmallows, tea and leadership

Eventually and not at all influenced by the promise of a marshmallow, I manage to attend one of the History Department’s Kings and Queens of England mini-lectures; they are taking the full regal line-up, chronologically of course – now it’s Henry III so you regal chronologeeks can work out how many, silly me, I’ve missed, but at least I am there now, marshmallow in hand, at 1.45 on Thursday, along with another 30 (half teachers, half students) listening to Chris Bott‘s spirited and informative account of Henry III, the Pious Builder. Poor chap (Henry not Chris), formally king from aged five, so dominated by regents (nasty people, my Ladybird books told me) for the first chunk of his reign and senile for the last decade or so, he had a mere 20 years (of his 58 years’ official rule) doing anything resembling ruling – and he made a hash of dealing with barons and goofed the diplomatic dance of trying to marry his son into the Sicilian monarchy. At least he built Westminster Abbey and was sufficiently notable to feature in the Divine Comedy (written about 50 years after his death), albeit amongst the third class of late repentants – “the preoccupied”; which is what my tutees (the two head boys and head girls) are as we sit on the 50 Church Road terrace, bathed in late afternoon sun and wafted by a wisteria-perfumed breeze, as we mull over the fruits of the newly-reformed student elections for the most likely lads and lasses to become their successors when the top student group is announced next Wednesday. At this stage, the top five boys and the top five girls, all nominated by their tutors as potential candidates, have emerged as a result of the whole school ballot. The people having spoken, now it’s the turn of the housestaff, the other teachers, Dominic, the head students and myself to discuss the best line-up. Formally, it is my decision, but generally some sort of consensus emerges as each individual’s strengths are gauged alongside the need for the head student team to work well as a unit. Next Wednesday the new head student team will shush at assembly and all will be revealed. In the meantime, here is a shot of the five of us beneath the wisteria, so you know that the rather overwritten (mauve prose?) piece of this blog was not entirely poetic license.

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools

Keith and Head Student team


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.

Consulting the student body through a Food Symposium

Bedales has a long tradition of consulting the student body about important issues. Go back 20 years or so and it took the form of a whole school meeting; over the past 11 it has been through using a symposium – and so it was on Wednesday night on the subject of Food. When I am asked by fellow heads about how to go about consultation, I am surprised at their surprise when I outline what happens here; indeed many more or less fall off their chairs at the idea of consulting a student body. Well, the message from here is that, like anything you are determined to do and that you see as vital, it is not difficult and (much more importantly) it is fun, interesting and healthy for the community. Wednesday’s symposium was helped greatly by the initial research and commitment of ten 6th formers (“the core team”)  who, having expressed an interest in the whole venture, researched the origins of our food – Chicken Korma in particular – and then led the first communal bit of the evening (Quad at 5.15) through telling the story of Bedales Chicken Korma. This was not just about the food miles in bringing the coconut milk and spices to our shores, but focussed on the living conditions of our chickens – am sparing you the grisly details here, but not-very-nice sums it up. Seed is sown in our minds: could we eat less chicken but chicken that has had a bit more exercise and lived in better conditions?  Might we eat a more local chicken? Dominic gives us a quick run through of some of the key concepts to be discussed. So, then we disperse to our groups (cross-age, chaired by sixth formers) who have a series of starter topics to get them going – seasonality, role of meat, organic, regionality, food miles, waste, nutritiousness – and a large poster-size sheet on which to write the main points of the group discussion. Half an hour later and we are back in the Quad. Head students are dashing around with microphones – questions and statements are being made from the floor as the core team of ten speed-read the large sheets and discuss what the key threads running through the discussions are. Meanwhile I am out front: ideas – from the profound to the trivial (toast seems to obsess some folk) – keep coming over our 20 minutes of plenary. Then (last 5) the main threads are voiced by a quick parade of core team people: quality over quantity, not convinced by organic, a self-conscious push to choose the healthier options on offer, try a meat free day but not a Monday (clearly not a believer in alliterative-led choices), develop links with local farms, we are up for some thoughtful experimentation. A few words finally from me on the next stages: further work on the groups’ ideas; core team to draw up a draft proposal; bring that back to the Bedales student body, before they take the consultation on to Dunhurst and Dunannie; do this by the end of term, so we can start working with Dave Greenman and our great catering team to make whatever changes we want to try. Final reminder (from the floor, of course): we need to remind ourselves how lucky we are and how well fed we are.

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. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

New headboys and headgirls: ambassadors, advocates, do-ers and conduits

Headboys and headgirls (the head student team) perform a crucial role in the life of Bedales: along with being ambassadors, advocates, do-ers and conduits between students and staff, they need to be the senior students who represent the best of the Bedales ideal – so, people who live it –  Head, Hand and Heart. Yesterday, following a student advisory vote and much discussion amongst teachers, housestaff especially, the new team was selected. Congratulated initially by their predecessors (who have done a cracking job incidentally) they are then acclaimed by the school, who have played a large part in the selection of the team, at evening assembly as the team does its first “shush”. So, hats off to Oscar C (head boy), Cecily K (head girl), Katie S (deputy head girl) and Harley M (deputy head boy).

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. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.