Active learning - Jo Webbern

Bedales Pre-Prep, Dunannie

In a recent issue of Beautiful South magazine, Jo Webbern, Head of Bedales Pre-prep School, Dunannie, explains the ethos of teaching vital life skills through the fostering of creativity, individuality and contact with the natural world.

Bedales founder John Haden Badley believed that children should be encouraged to be curious and spontaneous, and be allowed to flourish independently and guided only when necessary. Learning should be an active, meaningful and purposeful experience.

Dunannie puts an emphasis on children making real, healthy, independent choices without being bound to a strict text. For instance, a lesson might involve children wandering the Bedales estate, looking at vegetation, the farm, animals, seeing changes in the environment with their own eyes, and taking their own cameras and documenting what they have found. The children are also encouraged to engage with the local community and wider national and international matters.

Jo explains: “Dunannie sets a high bar when it comes to preparing its pupils for the real world – for example, the development of skills in English and Science. However, it is also crucial to maintain a sense of childhood. We believe that minds – especially children’s minds – are inspired by more than just being told about things. They must experience things for themselves and engage the senses – the head, the hand and the heart.”

The full article is available online here or you can download it here, with thanks to Beautiful South magazine for permission to publish. Read Jo Webbern's profile and find out more about Dunannie’s approach to learning here.