Our ethos

Outdoor Work is 'Work of Each for Weal of All' in action. It is a unique and indispensable part of the Bedales journey. Affectionately known as ODW, it is a core curriculum subject for all pupils since the birth of Bedales.

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Dunhurst ODW

Our aim

The aim of Dunhurst Outdoor Work is to encourage and nurture:

  • Self-confidence, passion, empathy and teamwork
  • An awareness, appreciation and knowledge of the natural environment
  • Respect for each other and for nature
  • A wide range of outdoor skills

The most important characteristic of ODW is a belief that everything the children do is for the benefit of others; that might be their classmates or year group, or the whole school. It can also mean the local community through our Community Service scheme, or the global community through our charity work. And it’s not just humans – it’s working for the benefit of the flora and fauna too!

Throughout the year, the children enjoy a huge variety of seasonal tasks and activities. On the vegetable plot we sow, grow, weed, pot up, pot on, dig, graft fruit trees, arrange and press flowers, propagate, compost and harvest. We also build and construct shelters and dens (using natural materials); this includes coppicing, weaving, using hand tools and learning a variety of knots and lashings. Cookery, bush craft, carving, whittling, fire lighting, conservation, plant and animal identification and pond dipping (amongst many other things) are also studied throughout the year.

The children are actively involved in the care of our chickens, ducks and bees, and also have opportunities to feed and care for other livestock on the Bedales estate. Children in the Blocks also have the opportunity to use their ODW skills to help in the local community through the Community Service scheme. Projects include helping to create an outdoor learning area at a local school and redesigning the garden at our local NHS GP surgery.

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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Head of DepartmentRyan Walsh