Monday evening’s assembly and I am ambushed by the large figure of £198,345 – the amount of money raised by Bedalians since 2007 for successive visits to Swaziland, mainly to develop Mbalenhle primary school, but also now to spread the benefit to two other primary schools. This is an assembly magicked by Physics teacher, Ransi Jayatissa, who leaves us at the end of this term, having spearheaded the Swaziland project from its start seven years ago. Not only does Ransi involve all the teachers who have taken part in the project, including Becks Scullion, now deputy head at Frensham Heights, but also he has brought back the trio of OBs who went on the first expedition in 2007 – Alistair Larsson, Charlie Hughes and Matthew Naylor – who testify warmly to the long term effect of their 2007 visit on them and their delight at seeing the subsequent impact of the project on Mbalenhle. Current teachers Alex McNaughton, Michael Truss and Ben Shaw speak of the transformational impact on them of their experience – “It will change you..” says Michael – and Ben’s photo (below) of the moment that the water gushed through at Mbalenhle primary school in 2009 is described by him as one of the best moments of his life. It’s all quite emotional and Ransi gets much applause and some serious hugging at the end.
Ambushed I am the following morning by smaller figures as I walk back to Bedales from my Dunhurst teaching. (Struggling here for the collective noun for a very excited group of Reception children walking down a path – not quite a gaggle, or a muddle or a huddle, maybe a giggle or a bustle or a bubble…) It is a colourful and definitely excited group (chicken!) of Dunannie Reception children, clutching the potions (finely represented figuratively on card) they have just made in the Bedales chemistry labs; they challenge me to see the fairies in the trees – alas! I see none, but then I am an adult and I haven’t been lucky enough to be mixing potions and conjuring craftily, as they have.
By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools
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.