Creative coppicing – the Bedales way


By Carter Clothier and Oscar Goldblatt, Block 4

On Wednesday, we, and seven other students got an amazing opportunity to take part in a workshop with The Creative Coppice Company. It was a really fun and productive day and we now have the skills we need to carry out our final BAC project.


Carter Clothier

For our BAC, Oscar D, Olav and I are making a post and rail fence to surround a new meadow which we will create between the Art & Design building and Outdoor Work. We started the day by learning how to split a piece of chestnut using a hammer and wedges, and we all managed to complete this with ease. We then progressed a little and learnt how to split a much longer bit of chestnut using the same method, but this time we had to split it into four. This was a little trickier and we all ended up with a lot more wasted wood than we would have liked, but nevertheless we all got the hang of it after a few hours.

WP_20170510_14_29_59_Pro cropAfter a well-earned lunch we went back to learn how to finish off the posts and rails. For the posts we had to mark out the location of the mortice and drill 12 holes into the post, this then needed cleaning up with a very sharp chisel. We created six slots for the rail to go into.  This brings me onto the most difficult bit – making the tenons, which is basically a practice of shaping the end of the rail to make it fit into the post. This is usually done with a chainsaw, but in true Bedalian fashion we had to do it the traditional way: using an axe and draw knife.  This slow and painful process consisted of chopping the corners off the quartered bits of chestnut with an axe and then shaving of vast amounts of leftover wood with the draw knife.

This took a long while to get the hang of, but we eventually got it down to about one rail every 25 minutes. By the end we completed around five or six rails. Only 98 more to go…!


Livi, Jamie and I are building a terrace / balcony around the new ODW office as part of our BAC project – the office was refurbished from a grain store by last year’s BAC students.

WP_20170509_10_53_50_Pro cropWe began working on our project by showing Dave, from The Creative Coppice Company, some of our rough sketches and ideas and then we started measuring out some of the sides. Once we had all the sides measured we then calculated that we needed six poles for our design. As a group we started to scrape the bark off the 2 .75m chestnut logs in preparation for marking-out and cutting. Getting set up and trying to ensure all measurements were in the correct orientation on a round pole is very satisfying, yet quite intensive and time-consuming.

However, we feel we picked up enough information to start our projects with confidence. The next step in our project is to dig the holes and position the poles so we can start putting the decking on. We all benefited a lot from this day and I think we would all agree that we would do it again.

Outdoor Work: reaping the fruits of their labour…

In Outdoor Work we have been very busy gathering the harvest produce on our doorstep and making it into all sorts of delicious winter goodies. Just some of the things we have been making are: Apple and tomato chutney, pickled rainbow beets, poached pears in elderflower champagne, elderberry cordial, hay cordial, hay salt (trust us, it’s delicious with roast lamb – Maldon sea salt with smoked hay from the Bedales fields), jam, hedgerow jelly using crab apples and hawthorn berries, plum compote, cider vinegar, apple pies, cakes, bread, pizzas…. The list goes on. There will be a selection of this produce available at reception after half term, and then before Christmas (after the 6.2 Christmas Pudding Bake) there will be mince pies and puddings. We are also expecting the lovely Jacob fleece we sent off last term to be delivered back to us before Christmas as beautiful shawls, scarves and blankets, woven by our mill in Wales. We will also be busy planting up winter bulbs and making other crafts which will make lovely gifts! Available this Saturday from 12.30 -1.30 at the bakehouse: handmade sausages from our very own Oxford Sandy and Black heritage pigs. Two piglets are for also sale – please contact Andrew for more details (


End of term news from ODW


On Sunday 12 June, Rob the shearer came to Bedales to give our 45 Jacob sheep their annual haircut. This gave us over 50kg of fleece which we have been busy sorting and combining with last year’s in order to send off and have spun into yarn to make blankets and shawls ready for Christmas.

Including this year’s lambs, we currently have over 80 sheep – some of which we would be happy to sell should any parents be interested (please email

On the pig front, Cher had her first litter of seven little piglets on Tuesday 21 June; mother and babies are doing well – she’s a natural! We are currently fattening four of the February litter ready for butchering in September. If any parents would like to discuss ordering a whole or half pig for a special event in the autumn, please get in touch.

Thanks to the BPA, our first incubation project has gone well: producing 7 chickens from 8 eggs, five are cockerels. On behalf of everybody at ODW, thank you for your support in buying our produce this year. Year-on-year we and the students hope to become more self-sufficient, learning new skills and giving back to the school as a whole.


Block 4 fire-up new pizza oven

ODW boys dismantle old oven

The boys dismantle the old oven

Just before the half term break, Jay Emery from Bushman Wood Fired Ovens came to Outdoor Work to build a pizza oven with Raffy Henry and Goose Milton from Block 4. The oven forms the basis of the boys’ BAC project for ODW, where they learn about building and using a traditional clay pizza oven, growing the chillies and tomatoes for the pizza sauce, and learning how to make the right dough. Baking in a sealed wood fired oven is a unique experience, imparting unique flavour and texture to the food cooked inside.


Materials arrive

Jay spent the whole day with us, assembling a base and then layering different insulators over the basic oven shape. We finished the oven in a clay/vermiculite, and will paint it with a lime paint. We fired it up with a gentle fire (reaching around 200 degrees) last week to allow the layers to set, and will have an inaugural firing-up this Saturday evening. The oven will then reach a top temperature of around 350-400 degrees – perfect for cooking crispy flavoursome pizzas in around 90 seconds!

To honour Jay’s great day with the boys, he has a special offer for Bedales parents and friends: a family sized Bushman Wood Fired Oven with a rustic wooden stand, basic toolkit and free delivery, £2799 incl. VAT, saving £450. In addition for every oven he sells to someone quoting ‘Bedales’, he will donate £100 to ODW to help pay for the boys’ project. Email for more information.

By Feline Charpentier, Teacher of Outdoor Work

Spring in Outdoor Work

Here in Outdoor Work we’re smack bang in the middle of one of the most exciting times of year.

Lambing began last week, all safely delivered and thriving, all of them preposterously cute. There are now only three ewes left to lamb. And these are not our only new arrivals. Thanks to the BPA’s generous gift of an incubator, our chicks are now nearly a month old. They are all doing well, in fact they seem to be growing by the minute and we can’t wait to get them outside. See photos below.

Angelica with pigletsHowever, spring also brings some sad news from the sty: Angelica sadly passed away last week, not long after her piglets got their first taste of freedom in the woods (pictured right). Watching them race each other around the enclosure was lovely; they looked so excited and inquisitive, Angelica will be sadly missed.

Keep up-to-date around the farm with @BedalesOutdoorW on Twitter.



By Andrew Martin, Head of Outdoor Work

Home-made festive produce on sale

Outdoor Work has a long standing tradition of producing and selling lots of lovely Christmas produce, and this year the students will be hard at work making all sorts of delicious and beautiful things for you to buy for the festive season. For us as a department the focus this year is on home-made; sourcing as many of the ingredients either on the estate or locally, with the students involved in every stage of the production. For that reason we won’t be selling meat this year, (except our own lamb which is due to be ready mid November – watch out for a further message about this) but we will instead have lots of other yummy things for you to buy, for your own family or as gifts, and therefore support this integral Bedales department.

For the second half of the Christmas term, we will have a small cart at Reception selling a selection of the following:

Bedales wool (spun from our own Jacob Sheep and Alpaca, in black, brown, grey and white) and knitting kits, a variety of Willow products, from Bird feeders to Christmas decorations.

WP_20151015_14_44_14_Pro DSC_0021WP_20151014_12_11_43_Pro cropThe traditional Bedales Christmas Pudding, made at our annual 6.2 Christmas bake in November.

A variety of jams and jellies, made with fruits and apples from around the school, as well as elderberry cordial – a traditional cough remedy.InstagramCapture_6c68bc00-7712-4d66-97c3-3ab7bbdd8761

Chutneys and pickles, from green tomato chutney to pickled cucumbers.

Chilli and herb oils, made with a locally sourced rapeseed oil (from www. and home-grown chillies and herbs and garlic.DSC_0012

Sloe Gin, and our very own Sloe Liqueur.

Mince Pies, made with home-made mincemeat, and German Stollen, as well as a variety of biscuits, fudge and edible tree decorations.DSC_0008

Please contact Outdoor Work for any further details:

By Feline Charpentier, Teacher of Outdoor Work

Introducing Bedales’ latest residents

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Bedales School is delighted to welcome four curly-tailed residents to the estate in the form of 10 week old Oxford Sandy and Black pigs. They arrived last week as new additions to the Outdoor Work animal husbandry programme.

Bedales Block 3 (Year 9) pupils will be responsible for caring for the pigs, including feeding, watering and cleaning out the pig ark. The introduction of the pigs is part of a broader re-design of the curriculum in the foundation year of the senior school that will help strengthen the conditions for students to thrive academically, honing key qualities like inquisitiveness, self-reflection, teamwork, and independent working.

Commenting on the arrival of the pigs, Andrew Martin, the new Head of Outdoor Work, said:

“We have chosen the Oxford Sandy and Black breed as they are known for being docile and hardy, not to mention their nickname ‘the plum pudding’! A breeding programme will soon follow which will allow students to experience and fully appreciate the life cycle of animals from farm to fork.”


The Outdoor Work course is unique to Bedales and covers many subject areas. Students have the opportunity to try something new and different whilst improving their practical skills, such as building barns, making chutney, blacksmithing, gardening tasks and managing livestock, as well as the popular weekly tradition of bread baking.

In Blocks 4 and 5 (Years 10 and 11), students choose from 11 Bedales Assessed Courses (BACs) in addition to studying five compulsory IGCSEs in Maths, English, Sciences (double or triple) and a Modern Foreign Language. The Outdoor Work BAC encourages students to choose a project which is entirely different from other courses as the success of the student is dependent upon their execution of a practical project and their effort and enthusiasm in overcoming any challenges that arise. It is a course that values and evaluates personal qualities, rather than academic abilities. This year student projects include the restoration of a wedding cart, making traditional oak gates, and the construction of a chicken coop which will house the soon-to-arrive Black Rock hens.

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.