Bedales School has welcomed four curly-tailed residents to its 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 three (year nine) 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 redesign of the curriculum in the foundation year of the senior school that aims to 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 a weekly tradition of bread baking.
In block four (year 10), 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 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 soon-to-arrive Black Rock hens.