Deep in the soul of Bedales lies an attachment to nature - which the school has reaffirmed by launching the 'Greening Bedales' initiative.
In 1900, J H Badley moved his fledgling school from Haywards Heath to Steephurst Farm in rural Hampshire because he wanted his students to grow up surrounded by natural beauty and pure air. The setting also allowed him to educate 'Head, Hand, Heart' - blending practical work with intellectual and spiritual development.
In the early years, students built the roadways through the 150-acre estate, levelled the playing fields and helped with work on the surrounding farmland; the school Chronicle carefully recorded the state of the carrot harvest and the tally of eggs laid by the hens.
Outdoor Work is still transforming the Bedales landscape. Students have planted miles of hedgerows. They have dug lakes, usually as a 'whole-school effort' over an autumn weekend. And they have built wood-frame barns, in a direct link to the Arts & Crafts movement that was at its peak when Bedales was founded.
In its Memorial Library, one of the last great Arts & Crafts buildings in the country (by Ernest Gimson, in 1921), Bedales has a standing reminder of the movement's key beliefs in truth to nature, truth to natural materials and truth to hand-craftsmanship.
No wonder, then, that Bedales has had a formal policy on care of the environment for more than a decade - or that it is now carrying out a radical renewal of its commitment.
A green philosophy (see 'The Green Team' below) should permeate everything we do. Bedales, by virtue of its ethos, and its history of progressive thinking, should be a leader among eco-friendly schools. Our initial aim is to become carbon-neutral. We could do it the easy way, by contributing to a carbon-offset fund, but this would miss the point.
Going green is highly fashionable, but going green seriously is not a fad: it is a major long-term commitment. We have taken the best available advice, and this is what it tells us. Altogether we are taking a year to produce a comprehensive plan for greening Bedales. Putting the plan into action - insulating all our older buildings to the highest standards, for instance - could take ten or fifteen years after that. We are in this for the long term.
The Green Team is made up from enthusiastic students and staff across all three schools. It is a discussion group for green planning and initiatives. It makes recommendations, publishes advice to students and staff and raises green awareness generally.
The students chair the meetings, prepare agendas and publish minutes. The key staff of this Team include the Bursar, the Facilities Manager, the IT Manager and Cheryl Osborne (Teacher of Biology) who is in charge of the sister group, Greenaid, which deals with day to day greening work such as paper recycling.
Suggestions from the Team on how to be a green learner:
- Think carefully before printing anything from the computer
- Practise reading and drafting on computer to avoid printing drafts of work
- Consider handing in your work electronically
- Think before you take another piece of new paper - best to reduce your use or reuse paper
- Try and print on both sides of paper
- Take care of files and texts to avoid having to replace them too often and perhaps to enable their reuse when you are finished with them
- Realise that an ability to afford the cost of a resource does not afford the right to use it wastefully
- Remind your colleagues and teachers of being green
- Remember that recycling paper is only a good thing to do if the paper has not been fully used/reused
- Avoid printing multiple copies – use a photocopier
- Don't waste resources in the name of neatness – if you make a mistake, cross it out and carry on rather than start afresh on new paper
- Don't print colour images for frivolous reasons