Paying tribute to the Bedalian tradition of handshaking

Bedales Prep, Dunhurst

The Bedalian tradition of handshaking may currently be on hold due to COVID related restrictions, but pupils and staff at Bedales Prep, Dunhurst ended the Spring Term with a warming adaptation of the ritual in a show of appreciation for the school community.

Handshaking has been fundamental to life at Bedales since it was founded by John Badley in 1893. A gesture of equality, agreement and mutual ground, it is representative of the importance Bedales places on relationships and the collaboration between its pupils and teachers. In ordinary times, pupils at all three schools shake hands regularly; at Dunhurst, the gesture follows ‘Jaw’ on a Friday afternoon.

After paying tribute to the hard work and resilience of pupils and staff in an end of term assembly, Head of Dunhurst Colin Baty wanted to close the Spring Term by sharing his appreciation for the school community. With handshaking still off limits, Colin and his wife Debbie had the idea to come together outside for an ‘appreciation applause’.

Pupils lined the school driveway in their respective pods for the occasion, clapping, cheering and drumming as teachers, catering and administrative staff walked through the tunnel of appreciation. When staff reached the end, they joined pupils on the outer layer of the tunnel, as each pod took their turn to be clapped and cheered through. The procession continued until the tunnel reached the playground, at which point pupils dispersed for break time.

Head of Dunhurst Colin Baty said: “Handshaking is such an important part of life at Dunhurst and as a community we have all missed this ritual. Over the last year, we have seen outstanding care and commitment from staff, and pupils have adapted to the ever-changing circumstances with grit and resilience. The appreciation applause along the school driveway gave us the opportunity to come together to celebrate these achievements as a community, and it was a wonderful way to mark the end of the Spring Term.”

Pupils and staff are now looking forward to a busy Summer Term, including Activities Week at the end of May, welcoming parents back to school for a celebratory Parents’ Day in June and saying farewell to Block 2 (Year 8) pupils as they move on to senior school.