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Design has been at the core of Bedales’ philosophy of educating the ‘head, hand and heart’ ever since it’s founding in 1898. The seed for this deep rooting of Design is perhaps most notable due to the intertwined history of the Arts and Crafts Movement. This can largely be attributed to old Bedalian and teacher Edward Barnsley, seen today as a keen figure of this pivotal movement.

Our curriculum

Design at Bedales is a thriving and well-resourced subject taught cohesively but with specialist predominant disciplines of Product & Furniture, Jewellery and Fashion. Bedales has a strong history of strength in the creative arts with Design a popular subject taken seriously within the school ethos and able to boast numerous prominent professional designers amongst its alumni. 

The subject is taught to all Block 3 (Year 9) students upon entry to the school and becomes optional for Block 4 and 5 (Years 10 and 11) when the students take our own Bedales Assessed Course in Design. The school currently uses the EDUCAS Product Design and the Fashion and Textiles A Level syllabi with the Sixth Form. These two qualifications run concurrently taught by specialists in the two mediums. Uptake in the subject is always strong with more than 84 students currently taking Design in Blocks 4 & 5 and 48 currently taking the A Level courses in Sixth Form.

There is a strong record of Bedales students continuing their Design related studies at university. In recent years students have been offered places directly onto to courses in Architecture, Product Design, Industrial Design, Design engineering, Furniture, Automotive Design, Jewellery and numerous Fashion courses at institutions such as Central Saint Martins, Loughborough, Northumbria, the Architectural Association, Kingston, Brighton, Goldsmiths and London College of Fashion. Preparing students for further education is a key part of the role of a Bedales Design teacher.

Our facilities

The Department moved into a new award winning Art and Design centre in July 2016. The Design courses are taught on the ground floor with shared ‘hub’ teaching and presentation spaces and bespoke spacious fashion studios and workshops equipped to the highest standards.

The Bedales fashion studios, workshop and jewellery bay have had a strong tradition of generating outcomes made to a high standard. Over the last 10 years the department has fully embraced contemporary design and making techniques. The teaching and learning within the department strives to reflect what is happening in industry to best prepare students for higher education.  Traditional making techniques used alongside sophisticated CAD/CAM have become a minimum expectation for our students. The workshop is well resourced with one large format three axis CNC milling machine, a four axis CNC milling machine, 3D printer, laser cutter, dedicated spray bay, hot metal works room and a well-equipped dedicated jewellery bay in addition to all the usual equipment one would expect. The two neighbouring fashion studios are also well equipped with professional pattern cutting tables, 20 Bernina sewing machines, over lockers, two industrial sewing machines (one walking foot and one lock stitch), cover stitch machines and an embroidery machine.

The close proximity of the workshops to the studios offer opportunity for cross discipline design development, encouraging students to think more broadly about material choice and creating the most innovative outcomes. This is a core value of the department.

Our staff

The Design team is a close group of eight staff, comprising five teachers and three tutor technicians. All of the teaching staff have specific areas of speciality and strong personal designing and making skills. The three tutor technicians have a wealth of experience and work ‘front of house’ alongside the teachers to support the students both in lessons and into the evenings and weekends. There is a strong collaborative ethos to the team.

Head of Department: Alex McNaughton

Parents' Day exhibitions
At the end of each academic year, Design students exhibit their work for parents and other visitors at our annual Parents' Day event.

This year, lockdown meant that the exhibitions could be viewed online for the first time.