Badley Day Thoughts

‘Another thing that I hope Bedales has grown to mean is the habit of service; of work done, I mean, not only for the pleasure of the doing (though that is a great thing), nor for personal gain, but for the school’s good, to raise rather than lower its standards, and leave it, in any way we may, better than we found it; for those who have had this feeling at school, and worked for it in this spirit, will carry it with them, and find, wherever their lives are laid, many opportunities in service of their fellows’.

– John H Badley

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There can be no greater example to set our children than to work alongside them, be it with hoe, grubbing mattock, spade, shovel or a rather alarming pair of hedge croppers and share with them the satisfaction that  working outdoors and undertaking manual work together can bring us.

The quote by John H Badley was part of Keith’s inspiring ‘Badley Jaw’ and so aptly captures the essence of Badley day at Dunhurst. Over 100 adults joined the children of Dunhurst to plant, tidy, clear and redesign so many areas of the school. I am sure that if John Badley had wandered through the school last Saturday he would have been delighted to see so much happiness and togetherness within the community and the extent of the great work achieved.

Outdoor Work had the locust treatment as the area was cleared and new spaces discovered. The vegetable garden doubled in size and the ground was prepared for the next range of crops. The dark holly infested area behind the Cobb was cleared to reveal a beautiful oak tree and new light filtered into the terrace area; this will soon become a bluebell wood as we await the arrival of 1000 bulbs for the children to plant. Adults and children alike battled with the construction of a huge tepee – this battle is still to be won but they had great fun trying to solve some pretty testing technical problems. In Ken’s pottery a gentler project was underway as beautiful terracotta planters made by the pupils were filled with pansies and bulbs. All over the school, tutors worked with their classes to fill planters, weed and tidy, dig and hoe. Science has a new garden as Rachel’s group added butterfly-attracting and medicinal plants.

Togetherness and sense of community were no more present when we all walked to the Hangers to climb and scramble up the hill and mark the ascent by touching Edward Thomas’s memorial stone. Children read poetry and the gentle sound of laughter and chatter mingled with the sound of bird song. Together we returned to Dunhurst to enjoy an amazing, fulsome and well deserved lunch outdoors, tired but happy: a community inspired by John Badley’s vision – head, hand and heart.

Jane Grubb

Head of Bedales Prep, Dunhurst


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

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