Memories of Bedales: An unconventional education
In an article for School House magazine, theatre and television director Edward Hall says that finding the right school for a child is exactly like casting the right actor for a part, and that in Bedales he found his.
Coming from what he describes as an unconventional family, Edward explains that finding the school for him was “something of a challenge”. Early education proved a less than perfect fit in terms of academic focus and attitudes to discipline, and so at 13 he was sent to Bedales where his elder half-brother and sister had both spent happy times.
He says: “What a breath of fresh air. Here was a school with no uniforms, no prefects and everyone, even the teachers, used their first names. Mixed-sex classes and mixed-aged dormitories were the norm.”
At weekends students put on their own rock concerts, held poetry readings or, in the summer, organised bicycle races. Edward explains: “We built stages, performed on them, rigged lights and wrote poetry and music, giving us a tremendous sense of togetherness. This ethos, reflected in the school motto, ‘Work of each for weal of all’, has become the guiding principle of one of the theatre companies I run”.
Two teachers in particular had a tremendous impact on his working life. Edward recalls John Batstone writing Shakespeare sonnets on the blackboard and talking with lucidity and passion about Othello (a play which Edward later went on to direct), and Head of History Ruth Whiting from whom he learnt that truth is purely a matter of perspective, and that understanding this was the most important part of comprehending history.
He concludes: “I left Bedales a confident, happy and, I think, outward going young man who felt easy in any social situation. When I did eventually make it to university, although my courses were great, I did feel like I was repeating my school life, which, in retrospect, had been more like a university campus than a traditional school. I feel very lucky to have had such a privileged education”.
The full article can be read on the School House website.