Bedales as exemplar school

Posted on 01st December 2017

Bedales has featured in two recent initiatives from leading educationalists as an exemplar of a mission-led school that is developing creative thinkers.

Innovative approach to teaching and learning

Professors Bill Lucas and Guy Claxton of Winchester University’s Centre for Real World Learning gave a lecture at the university - The Power of Learning: Putting the heart and the hand back into Schools (view here) - to celebrate 10 years of the centre’s work. They discussed what it is to be creative, how children learn and what schools can do to cultivate powerful learners.

Professor Lucas said: "In the past, it was enough for young people to know and do things. Today, they need more than subject knowledge in order to thrive: they need capabilities. A key capability is creative thinking and all children need to learn how to develop ideas, collaborate and think critically. Creative thinkers are inquisitive, collaborative, imaginative, persistent and disciplined and schools which foster these habits of mind in learners need to be creative in engaging children and young people by embedding creativity into their everyday educational experiences."

Bill Lucas singled out two schools that are successfully embedding such approaches to creativity into school life: Bedales and School 21, a state funded school in Stratford, East London. Highlighted were the holistic ‘head, hand, heart’ pioneering approaches to teaching and learning at both schools.

Bill Lucas has recently been appointed as co-chair of a new global test of Creative Thinking to be developed by PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) in 2021 to supplement their testing of 15-year-olds' core capabilities in English, maths and science.

For more information on the work of the Centre for Real World Learning, click here

Royal Society of Arts – The Ideal School Exhibition

In November 2017, the Royal Society of Arts published a paper – The Ideal School Exhibition – to showcase ‘mission-led’ schools that are bucking the negative trend in schools, that of narrowing the focus of education and hollowing out their teaching.

The report highlighted Bedales as one of the most distinctive schools, certain of its own identity, and having weaved its philosophy and ethos into the fabric of school life since its foundation. RSA’s Director of Education, Julian Astle, explains: “Although I could reference most of the schools I visited to make the point, the example of two in particular demonstrates how to turn a clear set of values into a purposeful mission statement, which in turn can be made manifest in the practices and protocols of every day school life. They are Bedales, a 125 year-old independent school in rural Hampshire, and School 21, a five-year-old state school in Stratford, East London – both of them what social commentator Charlie Leadbeater would describe as a “creative community with a cause.” 

The report continues: “For the visitor, the ‘Bedales difference’ as it is described on the school’s website, is everywhere to see. It is there in the student-constructed build­ings, artefacts and landscapes of the school estate. It is there in the quirks of the school’s systems and routines, and in the names by which they are known (BACs, Blocks, Brekkie, Jaw, etc). But it is there, most of all, in the school’s culture; in the human relationships that give the community its character – relationships that are characterised by the first-name terms on which adults and children interact and codified by rituals like the twice-weekly handshaking between all staff and students.”

Bedales is the only independent school featured in RSA’s ‘exhibition’. For more information, click here.