By Andrew Martin, Head of Outdoor Work (ODW)
As this year’s Block 5 projects have recently come to an end, we thought you might like an update on what the students have been up to.
Moderator Nick Heasman, from the South Downs National Park, visited all our students on Thursday May 2. “The variety and practical nature of the projects this year have provided the students with excellent opportunities. At times they have been challenging, but they have also allowed students to work to their strengths with the guidance of Andrew and the ODW team,” he said. “I have been impressed by the quality of work, the passion of students and the professional manner of staff. It is important to the students and the school that they leave a legacy that adds value and assists in their development. This is very evident in the cohort of 2019.”
So, without further ado, onto the projects…
Will, Tom and Ossian have been busy in the potting shed. They have installed a solar panel system on the roof, as well as lights and growing lamps. In doing so they have vastly improved the teaching space and given us much needed power in that part of the grounds.
The chestnut roundhouse built by Song, Will, Gully and George has been a very exciting and ambitious project. The aim has been to create an outdoor classroom to teach green woodworking and craft work. Because of its enormous size, it isn’t yet complete, although we are delighted with what the students have done so far. They have also made examples of items that will be made in the roundhouse in the future, including shave horses, chestnut hurdles, walking sticks and carved wooden spoons.
If you walk through ODW you’ll notice the vegetable plot is looking a lot more organised! This is thanks to Laurie, Seb and Kai. Not only have they tidied up the area, they have also made a sweet pea arch which forms the centre piece of the new raised beds, and created a patio which is planted up with gooseberry and red current bushes.
Around the rest of the estate, most of our fields now have beautiful signs on the gates. Luca and Hector have combined their blacksmithing and woodwork skills to produce a fantastic range of branded signs. It also means people now know the names of our different fields, especially Ruth’s Meadow, named in tribute to Ruth Whiting, a much loved former Bedales teacher.
One thing you cannot miss when you walk into the barnyard is the upcycled minibus which has had a major overhaul. It has been cladded in old pallets, planted with a sedum roof, and had the engine and seating removed. Not only does it look incredibly cool, it now provides watertight storage for all the items we find in skips, which always end up coming in handy! Well done Maggie, Max, Laurence and Arthur.
Or shop has enjoyed a great first year. The shelves have been kept stocked by the efforts and imagination of Felix, Mimi, Isabella and Elsa. Products have included bath salts, herbal teas, homemade granola, jams and ready meals. They have flown off the shelves nearly as soon as they’ve been laid out.
Bryn, Harry and Beatrice spent the majority of the year in the chicken coop, working hard to subdivide it and building a small shed to store chicken food. They also incubated a large number of eggs, and learnt one of the hard lessons of poultry farming: too many cockerels!
Finally, our spindle room in the Sotherington Barn has never looked better, thanks to the fantastic input of Hollly, Francis and Anne. They repaired the lime rendered ceiling, created a large amount of storage and reorganised the room into a beautiful teaching space. The girls have reenergised spinning, weaving and knitting, and their efforts are paying off in a hugely positive way already.
As ever, a huge thanks to all our students. Once again we have all been blown away by their energy, commitment and enthusiasm.