About us

Central to a Dunhurst education is the setting – as stimulating as it is picturesque. Sitting within a 120 acre estate, we are surrounded by the beautiful landscape of the rolling South Downs, which we take every opportunity to explore.

Our curriculum is broad, and our commitment to encouraging creativity unswerving – a consequence, in part, of the close relationships we foster between our pupils and the adults who care for and teach them. I firmly believe that young people should be encouraged to aim as high as they can whilst also enjoying their childhood, and benefitting from as many opportunities and experiences as possible. I actively encourage muddy knees! 

Whilst Dunhurst is about helping the individual to blossom, this is not pursued at any cost. It is about being yourself, but also about community and mutual respect. Remembering the important things in life – manners, kindness, and the wherewithal to get along with others – is also high on my list. Developing and maintaining strong relationships with our parents is key to this. I am proud to be headmaster of Bedales Prep, Dunhurst, and to share with you the delights of a forward thinking and ambitious school. We would love to show you around, so that you can see for yourself what a unique place Dunhurst really is. 

Latest news

25 Sep 2023

Bedales’ Big Bursary Walk for the John Badley Foundation

Bedales held its annual 'Badley Day' on 20/09/23: a community day where the whole school comes together for a cause. This year students, staff and parents participated in a sponsored walk to raise money for the John Badley Foundation.

25 Sep 2023

Bedales’ Big Bursary Walk for the John Badley Foundation

Bedales held its annual ‘Badley Day’ on 20 September, raising funds and awareness for this year’s chosen charity: the John Badley Foundation (JBF). Students, staff and parents took the day’s wet weather in their stride to complete several sponsored walks covering over 5,000km, which has so far helped to raise more than £11,500 plus gift aid. The registered charity provides full bursary places for students in Block 1 (Year 7) to 6.2 (Year 13), widening the opportunity for young people to thrive in the unique educational environment at Bedales.

Named after the school’s founder, Badley Day is a community day celebrated by staff and students where members of the whole school come together in a collective endeavour for a cause. This year, 760 students, staff and parents set out on their walks in the scenic South Downs, totting up a distance of 5,000km in aid of the chosen charity, which has funded full bursaries for 29 children to date. Due to the extreme weather, walking routes had to be adapted. Students in the Sixth Form embarked on a 13km walk exploring the Ashford Hangers, near Froxfield, with younger Senior School students (Years 9 to 11) walking a slightly shorter route.

Students at Bedales Prep (Years 4 to 8) and Pre-prep (Nursery to Year 3) also contributed to the day’s combined distance by completing their own fundraising walk around the school’s estate. On their way round, the younger children paused at various activity stations set-up by 6.2 (Year 13) students, where they excitedly collected bee stamps and engaged in activities such as ‘pin the tail on the pig’ and tree bark rubbing.

In addition to the sponsored walks, another of the day’s highlights was the return of three former Bedales students: Roly Botha, Esme Allman and Albie Waterton, who were themselves recipients of full bursaries. Roly, an actor, composer and sound designer, Esme, a poet, theatremaker and facilitator, and Albie, an applications engineer in CAD design, were welcomed back to speak of their own experiences at Bedales. The former bursary holders offered their time to the whole school by delivering Q&A sessions to the Prep students, reading stories about community and friendship to Pre-prep children and speaking at the Senior School’s evening assembly. The trio spoke fondly of their time at Bedales and how the opportunities they had to pursue their interests have positively shaped their lives, as well as voicing their desire to give back to the school community.

Other events on the day included a talk on social mobility by Deputy Head (Co-curricular & Operations) Alex Kerr and a 50-year reunion lunch for Bedales alumni.

Older students rounded off Badley Day by participating in ‘Bedales’ Got Talent’, where 24 varied acts performed in front of an audience and panel of students and staff. The show highlighted the school’s array of talents with acts of magic, dance, contemporary music and a winning rendition of Candi Staton’s Nights on Broadway.

Following the day’s theme, the evening also welcomed JBF supporters to a reception to celebrate the charity’s progress and to hear of the ambitions to further expand the number of bursaries offered to young people.

Speaking about the day, Head Will Goldsmith, said:

“It’s amazing how much we can pack into a day when we take the students off-timetable to focus on a single cause. I was impressed how young people from Reception to Sixth Form all joined in and embraced the walking, fundraising and other activities. We have ambitious plans to double the number of fully funded places we offer to create more transformational opportunities for young people. This year’s Badley Day helped spread the word and mobilise support for this ambition.”

Tanya Darlow, Head of Development at Bedales added:

“It was wonderful to see the whole school get behind the John Badley Foundation and put the time and effort into understanding its work. I am delighted that students of all ages had the chance to meet Albie, Esme and Roly. I hope these encounters will stay with them in the years to come and inform their own philanthropic passions and endeavours. Thank you to all those who took part and donated.”

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14 Sep 2023

Bedales sets out vision for next decade

Bedales has set out its vision for the next decade, which includes initiatives for sustainable living and more hands-on experience for students. The school aims to cultivate a community of life-long learners through its innovative curriculum.

14 Sep 2023

Bedales sets out vision for next decade

Informed by educationalists in the UK and abroad, and following in-depth consultation across the school community, Bedales has set out its vision for the next decade. Founded in 1893 to be a humane alternative to the authoritarian model typical of late-Victorian public schools, this announcement is the latest example of the school’s pioneering approach.

Included in the announcement is the plan to reduce the number of GCSEs taken by students from five to two, retaining Maths and English Language. Students will follow more of the school’s own curriculum, designed to develop intellectual ambition, creative thinking and independent learning. This will prepare them better for A Levels, giving them more learning time and developing the dispositions and capabilities to help succeed in life beyond Bedales.

The school will create its own new Bedales Assessed Courses (BACs) in the sciences, languages and a new sustainability curriculum. Already offered by the school as better alternatives to GCSE in many subjects across the arts and humanities, BACs offer more choice in content, research and project work, as well as more varied assessment methods such as coursework, presentations and vivas. This approach provides greater stretch for ambitious students. The school considers the current model to be outdated; GCSEs, with their more centralised, knowledge-heavy content and over-reliance on rote-learning and narrow terminal assessments are not fit for purpose. The reduction in the number of GCSEs is also considered by the school to have positive mental health and wellbeing benefits, as well as freeing up the summer term of Block 5 (Year 11) for more meaningful teaching and learning to replace the 32 hours of examinations and study leave that most students endure.

The broader set of initiatives in the Bedales announcement include:

  • A digital portfolio for all (an ‘education LinkedIn’)
  • Establishing a Centre for Progressive Education to inform global education thinking and practice
  • Doubling the number of fully funded bursaries
  • All students to undertake weekly ‘Bedales Service’ to support the operational running of the school (akin to the Japanese soji approach)
  • A move to mixed boarding houses for all years (rather than separate single sex houses)
  • Hands-on experience for students growing their own food and building sustainable structures
  • Initiatives to live more sustainably and move to carbon net zero

The school is introducing these changes to ‘inspire a new generation of critical-thinkers, creators and leaders by cultivating a community of life-long learners through its innovative, intellectually challenging curriculum’. Centred on authentic working relationships, the school references its founding principle ‘work of each for weal of all’ in ‘developing excellence in the individual whilst appreciating their central role in shaping society on every level’.

Will Goldsmith, Head of Bedales commented:

“We are excited by the future and welcome this opportunity to renew our core purpose and philosophies, reaffirm our commitment to excellence in teaching and build upon our distinctiveness. This will help our students stand out in a rapidly changing world, prepare them better for the challenges ahead and maintain Bedales’ leadership within the wider educational sector.”

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