Summer feature on Dunannie
In an article for Independent School Parent magazine, Jo Webbern, head of Bedales Pre-prep School, Dunannie, explains the school’s philosophy of giving children the freedom to do and make things for themselves, under the guidance of expert practitioners who offer constructive intervention to develop the learning.
In 1893, John Haden Badley founded Bedales as a humane alternative to the authoritarian regimes of Victorian public schools. Today, the school remains a beacon for innovative education. John Badley believed that children should be encouraged to be curious and spontaneous through concrete learning, and Dunnanie puts emphasis on learning through doing and making. Jo says: “A standard lesson might involve children wandering through 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 see.” Children are also encouraged to engage with the local community, as well as broader national and international matters.
Jo concludes: “It would be restrictive of us to simply teach young people the nuts and bolts of passing examinations. Rather, we provide every opportunity for children to succeed on their own terms, fostering individuality, and encouraging initiative and creativity, and this sees us stray very consciously beyond the borders of the conventional curriculum. I like to think that John Badley would have approved.”