Our ethos

Outdoor Work at Dunhurst fully embraces the spirit and ideals of the school’s founder, John Haden Badley. The Tenets laid down in 1893 still continue to this day nurturing in children an appreciation and understanding of the outdoor environment and all that can be achieved here.

The principle of “learning and growing” by doing was and still remains central to Badley’s vision of using Head, Hand and Heart to develop the whole child in mind, body and spirit.

Our aim

The aim of Dunhurst outdoor work is to introduce every child to the widest possible range of outdoor activity and experience. Through both practical and theoretical exploration, the child will “grow” in developing their knowledge, confidence and appreciation of the natural world undertaking a broad spectrum of physical, creative and rewarding tasks.


The activities and projects undertaken by the children are largely guided by the changing seasons and the cycle of the year. Most of the work carried out falls loosely into four main subject areas.

Maintenance of our own area

  • Watercourse management
  • Coppicing
  • Woodcutting
  • Leaf raking
  • Tending to chickens and soil preparation for vegetable cultivation


  • Fence building
  • Simple brick work
  • Bridge construction
  • Landscaping
  • Creative projects….ship/bridge/sculpture building
  • Bonfire (Nov 5th)

Rudimentary farming

  • Growing vegetables and flowers
  • Caring for livestock (chicks, lambs, pets)
  • Harvesting apples and juice pressing
  • Hop growing and picking
  • Campcraft, survival and wilderness awareness
  • Fire lighting
  • Shelter building
  • Outdoor cooking
  • Orientation

Learning here takes place in a wide variety of environments. The cabin, the outdoor work area, by the ponds, or foraging in surrounding woodlands. Whether at the sand quarry, the orchards or in the barns at lambing time, new and stimulating surroundings provide an opportunity to explore and discover. Individual goal setting and personal achievement are commonplace as are team work and collaborative group effort across all the topics covered.

Outdoor Work offers truly multi dimensional learning. In accordance with the growth mind set principles, touching, making, doing building, sensing, feeling, tasting and moving all combine to reinforce the connections necessary for total learning, built upon theoretical foundations.

We are pleased to say in ODW that every single child in the school has something to gain from their experiences here in the outdoor work area with the variety of individual opportunities available.

Three additional hours of outdoor activity are available each week plus opportunities each break and lunch time to extend the children’s interest in ODW.

Extra-curricular opportunities

The evening clubs are open to Groups and Block alike and emphasise slightly more project based involvement.

Progression to Block 3 at Bedales

Outdoor Work at Dunhurst is really a foundation course based on practical experience. The curriculum provides an introduction to many of the more project led activities with which the children will be involved when they progress to Block 3. Confidence and skill acquisition prepare the children well for the exciting challenges and opportunities of the Bedales Outdoor Work Programme.

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View the Bedales Outdoor Work curriculum

Head of DepartmentRyan Walsh