Bedales school(26 Posts)
Have been sent some info on it by a friend, and think it would really suit my oldest DD. Anyone any expeience. Thank you
Rather a good article in the education supplement that came with last weeks Country Life.
One of my best friends went to Bedales, but she would have left 10 years ago or so. Her experience was a mixd bag. A very pressured environment socially - the walkway down the canteen was called the runway because everyone observed outfits & bodies - but also that funny relaxed element, so she is still friends with some of her teachers. But like I say, that was some time ago.
My cousin is a teacher there and though them I took part in their careers fair last year. It is a very different atmosphere to any other senior school I have ever been in, the relationship between teachers and pupils is much more that of peers. The pupils I meet were all engaging, polite individuals who sat down and chatted about my career even if they were not interested. They were more mature and adult than the normal year 10 and 11s I encounter going into schools. Their outfits did seem to be more in keeping with a catwalk than school, but there was lots of individual style ( I visit another top all girls private school regularly and they all look like clones). I can see that the Bedales work program is a great alternative to the heavy sports program in other private schools and that the community spirit is a good thing.
I know from the cousin that the new head is very keen to improve the profile of sciences in the school and that there is a drive to improve grades. I get the feeling that due to the Bedales curriculum that runs rather than GCSEs the true benefit is gained by staying to the end of sixth form.
Having visited the school, I would say you need to go and see it to know whether it would suit you and your DD.
The two people I know that have been there got quite heavily involved in drugs whilst the - one of whom went on to have that problem for a long time after. I know it is a lovely school in many ways and fill of interesting characters but just wanted to tell you what I know about it.
Good friend from uni went there in the 80s - they had compulsory nude mixed swimming up to the age of 13. Lots and lots of drugs. It may have changed by now of course.
I left Bedales recently and can whole-heartedly say going there was the best decision I have ever made in my life. Having been to a few schools beforehand that I didn't particularly mesh well with, it was quite a surprise to actually looking forward to going back when the holidays ended. Saying this, you may have to be a certain sort of person; Bedales puts a huge emphasis on working as a team and respecting 'thy neighbour', and if you're more of a every-man-for-himself sorta person, you probably won't prosper there.
The majority of Bedalians are intelligent, funny and chilled. My family sent me there as a horrible teen intent on rebellion, and I returned with an army of loyal friends offering to do the dishes. Quite simply, it makes you better.
The whole 'drugs' thing happens in every co-educational school in England, it's just that the whole 'laid back' ethos seems to allow people to make presumptions that it's worse than anywhere else. Obviously some people decide they want to do drugs, but some people don't; there's no 'peer pressure' or any of that nonsense. You can do whatever you want, and as long as you can hold your own people will respect you for that. There's certainly no compulsory nude swimming now, though if you want to sneak off with a couple of friends to sample the wonders of the lake, you might as well.
I couldn't agree with mimididcot less. I went there in the 1980s & didn't see any respect for others being practised. It was more like 'Lord of the Flies'. I was subjected to daily verbal bullying by boys who told me that I was a 'witch', incredibly ugly & that they (sniggeringly) wanted to make love to me. It always raised a laugh with classmates! I was occasionally jumped on & once sexually groped in the lunch queue. Most of the bullying took place in front of classmates but was mainly unwitnessed by teachers. No-one stood up for me. By the age of 15, I felt suicidal. Indeed there was a suicide at the school. If you were 'cool', then yes, you were part of the Bedales family but if you were shunned for not being cool, then your life was made hell. It wasn't only me who suffered. I saw other 'unattractive' girls being bullied sexually too. Now this may be a problem at all co-ed schools, but I feel that this liberal, boarding environment where children are positively matey with the staff provides the freedom for bullies to get away with it. There is no way that I would send a sensitive or gentle child to Bedales, even if they had an artistic temperament. You need to be robust or lucky with your peer group.
I was another of the 'ugly' girls being bullied sexually at Bedales during the 1980s and I remember the suicide. The low self esteem and body dysmorphia I was left with persist to this day. I wouldn't send a dog there, never mind one of my children.
I went to a different co-ed boarding school for 6th form. Sadly I recognise what Polista and Gentian are saying.
I went to Bedales once as my cousin taught there. It was full of uber confident and beautiful people. I would have not been a happy child there.
Ex- Bedales Junior school here from the late 80's.
Also horribly bullied and completely unsupported by the pastoral staff. Yes, the teachers were all on first name basis, but the boarding house was totally Lord of the Flies. Openly bullied in class for wearing glasses, not being fashionable enough or not having the right social set.
Even over 20 years later I won't set foot anywhere near Alton, Fleet or Petersfield. 😕
Polista, I am so sorry to hear that you suffered too. I knew several girls in my year & several in other years who were severely & persistently bullied by boys. It is very difficult to get over because it wrecks your self-esteem.
Radiatorvalves, yes, sadly this boy-on-girl bullying isn't limited to Bedales.
There is a faint hope that the subculture may have improved in past 30 years but personally my experience has put me off co-education & I wouldn't risk sending a daughter there.
ImmaculateInception, not you too - I'm so sorry. Yes, I experienced open bullying in some classes where the teacher was weak & lots of bullying in classes where the teacher had left the room to photocopy something or had arrived late. Bullying occurred when walking through the quad, walking into assembly in the Lupton Hall, queuing for lunch, going to lessons, on school outings - everywhere. By the sixth form, I had developed strategies for avoiding the bullies e.g. I used to scive assembly & hide in the music school to avoid the name calling & I chose unpopular A-levels on purpose. I was amazed at how nice everyone was at university!
Thanks Gentian and I'm so sad to read what you and Immaculateinception went thru, too. Agree totally re the school-wide bullying experience and the teachers ignoring what was said and done under their noses - utterly pathetic. I too was amazed by how lovely everyone was at Uni! A man not long ago sued his private school for failing to protect him from bullying and thereby reducing his earning capacity in later life - food for thought, no? Another prob for me now is that the mere mention of the word at my kids' school is like a red rag to a bull and I have to remember not to overreact.
BTW, usually, if anyone online mentions bullying at Bedales, several celebrities, who went there for a year or two, immediately weigh in to say how f-ing marvellous the place was!
My friend sent her mildly autistic son to Bedales a few years ago (he would have left in 2011 to go to uni) and she constantly sings its praises! I imagine things must have changed since the 80's.
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I too was a pupil there starting in the late 70s through to late 80s. I would echo the comments of other people who have posted here, it really was like the Lord of the Flies, zero pastoral care, nil interest in the children and their development, many staff could barely be bothered to teach half the syllabus and often they didn't even bother with that.
Bedales is its own little insulated world, that they seem to have created their own unique set of exams is in character.
It was a very toxic environment then, if you were one of the cool rich kids it was OK but if not it was hell. I was there at the time of the suicide, there were multiple near misses at the time also. There were other things going on which are just starting to come out now.
The suicide made no difference whatsoever, the culture that the staff could do as they liked and if a child did not thrive then the problem was with the child and not the school continued well through 90s and into the early 2000s. Whether its changed now I couldn't say.
Hi there, Have had a few interns and junior staff from Bedales recently (around 23 now) and they all said it was very laid back, not much academic pressure, a lot of drugs and casual relationships and 'gave' a few of them eating disorders due to the toxic atmosphere. I dont know if this is true but that's what they told me! Might have changed by now of course.
What is your dd like? I went to a similar school to bedales and I absolutely HATED it - it was in London, private but not boarding - we knew quite a lot of Bedales girls. I can't even get on a bus if I know it will go past the school I went to. There is a certain 'type' that does well at these schools - but it is mostly mean girls kill or be killed. I actually seemed to fit in quite well at my school, I was slim, outgoing, loved drama bla bla bla. (Being skinny is veeeeeery important, I started practising being hungry at about age 13 and am now a pro and very thin and have "food issues") But secretly I hated every minute of it - the bullying was on another level to anything else I heard. When I went to Uni it was the biggest relief of my life because I realised there were actually people NOT like those at my school / schools like Bedales. And yes loads of drugs at my school too - I had my first line on a school toilet seat before a hockey lesson. No way in hell would I let my child near any of these schools. No way.
Sorry I realise my post might not have been clear, because no I didn't go to Bedales - but I know plenty of people who did. As young adults a lot of them feel the same way I do. OP I think you need to visit and see for yourself.
Echoing some of the other posters, a good friend was at Bedales in the 90s and said it was pretty toxic. Sugarlump - sorry to hear of your experience. I boarded at another 'top' girls school and (whilst we may indeed have looked like clones!) there was absolutely zero in the way of bullying, certainly in my year group. It's not a given.
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