Bedales - would really like to hear current parent's views please!(12 Posts)
We have chosen Bedales for our rather quirky DD but someone told me today the school has a problem with bullying! I had not heard this before and I just wondered if there were truth in the tale or not? Please help if you can as we are running out of options , Thankyou
Friends DS went there he's the most quirky person I know and I know a few! He left two years ago after doing one year, why? He was very badly bullied school did nothing.
friends have removed their children, the comment always seems to be that its great for younger children (pre prep/prep age) but the senior school just doesn't deal with bullying at all
We looked at many years ago for DS1. Frankly I thought they were the happiest children I've ever seen at a school. All we met were charming friendly and honest about what goes on at the school. Most were unmoved and uninterested in the outdoor stuff that Bedales offer, none we talked to had any thing to do with it, or used their gorgeous library, art was not that impressive, we'd just visited a school, where the art was incredible. I came away with two very strong impressions, if your child is not motivated and hard working, if he/she would rather sit with his metaphorical or actual feet on the desk and do nothing then no one would try and do anything about this and that there was a very strong pack instinct at the school. Few full boarded and when asked what they did at the weekend all we spoke to went and stayed in parents/brothers/uncles unlived in "flat in London" with their mates and and had a good time. I can imagine that if your DC does fit this "you only have one life live it" ethos and are not very wealthy (another comment made by the friend who pulled her DS was that most are incredibly wealthy) then perhaps bullying occurs, we also defiantly got the impression the children are not overly supervised, two we met at the open day openly admitted to being hung over from "secret" drinking the night before.
Hmmmm..... I have two children there at the moment... I don't hear about any bullying from them.... What I do know is the school makes strenuous efforts to make sure that all ages and both boys and girls get on well together. The mutual respect that pupils and teachers have for each other makes for an atmosphere that's more friendly and open than I've ever seen in any school anywhere....geeks and trendies - sporty and bookish - there seems to be room for all types. It's true that there are some exotically rich parents - but there are locals too - and many are there because their parent were and loved it so much ....
1. I've had 3 children in the school since 2008 and have never been aware of bullying as being a significant or ongoing issue.
2. I've been a member of the parents association for two years which is very connected into the overall parent body and has a good antennae for issues that are of genuine concern - whilst all sorts of issues do come up, bullying has not come up on the agenda.
3. My eldest child who just left after a very happy, successful and fulfilling time at the school was also part of the Head Boy/Girl team and I'm not aware bullying was an issue for them. Quite the reverse - there is a genuine culture of looking out for each other, which is very refreshing.
4. Pastoral care is very good - you might find reading last year's ISI inspection report helpful: www.bedales.org.uk/sites/default/files/24412-isi-report-2014-bedales-senior.pdf
5.That’s not to say bullying never happens – I imagine it happens in some form or other in most senior schools – the key thing is whether the school has the correct proceedures and appropriate communication channels to deal with it in an appropriate, swift and fair manner. I believe it does (backed up by the inspection report) but if you are worried the best thing to do is to talk to the school.
6. In my experience when looking at and considering new schools, there are always negative (and positive) rumours and it's best to try not to be swayed by them. Listen to your child and your own instincts and if you have concerns go and talk to the school about them. You can also ask to be put in touch with parents who have children at the school and talk to them about your concerns.
Good luck - choosing a school is always a difficult decision but if as you say you have a fairly quirky child then there's a good chance they ought to be able to thrive at Bedales. Oh and yes there are lots of rich kids but that's the case with all public schools, and anyway there are plenty who aren't - the school attracts a genuine mixture of people.
We have a number of children at Bedales, having moved our entire lives to the area purely to be close to it over 10 years ago. I have been active on Parent Committees in at least one, more often two, of the three Schools, ever since.
Our youngest began in the Nursery and our eldest is currently in her final year now, so we have experience of every year in the system, some years many times over!
Bedales itself? Like any other school with teenagers of course there are occasional problems but it is generally and genuinely a happy cosy accepting place with a very strong bond between children across all of the years which, I would suggest, is unusual for a secondary school.
This bond is actively encouraged and creates a culture where they all tend to look out for, rather than victimise, each other and it comes from a wonderful thread of "awareness" of others fostered across all three schools.
There is no formal hierarchy (no Monitors, Prefects etc) and children of all ages mix well and confidently with each other as a result.
Dunhurst, the middle school, actually trains a handful of its older children each year as "Peer Listeners". Their sole job being to make sure all of the others (across the years) are happy and settled, they are there to counsel them if they have problems!
Bedales has just started a Mentoring program with some Final Year students mentoring the first year students, sitting in on their Tutor groups etc. Compare that to the power of the Prefects and privileged "senior" positions of authority in most other schools - I remember them all too well!
The informality whereby everyone from the Headmaster to the youngest child in Nursery is known only by their first names, often just their nickname, coupled with the lack of any hierarchy, means respect for each other isn't imposed - it is part of the fabric of the School.
On the wealth front, I wouldn't say we were desperately wealthy; yes there are some very wealthy families at Bedales, as in most Public Schools, but there are probably more who are making enormous sacrifices to enable their children to be there!
To sum up: Nowhere is perfect, but our children have never had bullying issues. We know a fair portion of the other children at the School(s) and I can say there is no big issue on that front. Of course, I'm not going to tell you it never happens, no one could at any school, but a "problem" - absolutely not.
Moving our lot to Bedales was the best thing we ever did.
If you're still concerned, pop up and visit. When you wander around - the one thing you can guarantee about Bedalians is that they'll freely talk to anyone about anything, often animatedly and for hours! Getting them to stop is the problem!
Thank you SO much for your responses - gosh it really makes such a difference getting feedback from parents who are actually at the school right now. I'm not silly enough to think there will never be any problems - our older three all went to the same very high profile school and while they were very happy I know of a handful of children who were removed due to ongoing problems in their respective Houses so I know it happens. Its just that Bedales is very different to anything else we have considered, but that is partly why we are attracted to it for DD - she is extremely tall, very dyslexic and dyspraxic, and although she is academically very able all she wants to do is be an actor. Not a starry leading lady, but a proper sleeves up jobbing actor of the witches bitches and britches variety. She just won't thrive at the other school, which has next to no dyslexia support, or indeed at any school with a very strong sporting ethos, or one with a very frenetic or rigid environment. Hence the panic because we have looked at a fair few and dismissed them all!
Very pleased to be able to put the other side.
As I said - please do come and have a look, there are a lot of myths fogging the truth of how the school really is, some are vaguely helpful but many really aren't!
I've never really trusted Social Media and so have been intentionally obscure re my identity here, but I know anyone you speak to in the School Admissions etc will easily work out exactly who I am, please do feel free to make (offline) contact.
Good luck, whatever your choice.
Well you've decided me that she will sit the admissions test in January and we'll see how she feels! Thanks
I went there in the 1980s & was badly bullied daily by boys. Mainly verbal, sexualised bullying e.g. You're so *** ugly, I want to (sniggeringly) make love to you & lots of derogatory name calling. It was all done in front of classmates or as you walked into assembly to cause maximum embarrassment. I was once sexually groped in the lunch queue. Teachers were blissfully unaware as the bullies were cunning. A large number of the teenagers smoked in the sand quarry every break time. Of course there were lots of nice people there too, it was relaxed, low pressure & the staff were lovely. Great music, art, lots of Oxbridge success etc. but unfortunately my time there was marred by bullying. It wasn't only me who suffered - all the 'ugly' girls were abused by groups of really foul boys. I sincerely hope this has all changed (different head etc.) but how quickly does the subculture at a school evolve? I would be wary of sending anyone gentle or sensitive to a school with such freedom.
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