Bedales students shortlisted for essay prize

Congratulations to Eben Macdonald (Block 4) and Will Needs (6.2), who have both been shortlisted for the John Locke Essay Competition.

The competition, which is held annually by the John Locke Institute, encourages young people to develop independent thought, depth of knowledge, clear reasoning, critical analysis and persuasive style by exploring a range of challenging and interesting questions. Essays are invited from students across seven subjects: Philosophy, Politics, Economics, History, Psychology, Theology and Law.

Eben answered a question in Philosophy (“What is meaning? How much would it matter if we had none?”) while Will answered a question in Theology (“I believe in God. Which God should I believe in?”)

Both will now wait to hear whether they have been successful in their respective categories. There is a prize for the best essay in each category; each prize is worth £100, and the essays will also be published on the John Locke Institute’s website. The candidate who submits the best essay overall will also be awarded an honorary John Locke Institute Junior Fellowship, worth £500.

Block 3s’ Bedales journey begins at Ullswater

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By Alexander Lunn, 6.2

Beck

It is all one chase.
Trace it back: the source
might be nothing more
than a teardrop
squeezed from a curlew’s eye,
then follow it down
to the full-throated roar
at its mouth:
a dipper strolls the river
dressed for dinner
in a white bib.
The unbroken thread
of the beck
with its nose for the sea,
all flux and flex,
soft-soaping a pebble
for thousands of years
or here
after hard rain
sawing the hillside in half
with its chain.
Or here,
where water unbinds
and hangs
at the waterfall’s face,
and just for that one
stretched white moment
becomes lace.
– Simon Armitage

I read ‘Beck’ by the poet laureate Simon Armitage shortly after disembarking the Ullswater minibus. Perhaps it was fatigue that compelled me to pick up a poetry book, but this poem really reminded me of Ullswater.

We did encounter many becks – Block 3s camped beside them, the rushing water the least of their problems – and we scaled ‘the waterfall’s face’, albeit in ridiculous wetsuits. If you replace ‘the sea’ in Armitage’s poem with ‘Lake Ullswater’, you have a description of this trip.

Ullswater 2019 really was an abrupt end to summer for the new Block 3s, what with the ‘hard rain’ and singular hash brown for breakfast. This sounds quite miserable, doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t!

Northern weather is always expected to be far less superior than here in the South. Actually, I know for my tutor group, the bad weather brought people together. There was a general consensus as we were freezing whilst rowing or when the smaller members of our tutor group were almost being blown away near the foot of Helvellyn, that everyone was (literally) in the same boat, so we might as well get on with it!

And everyone did. I speak for every Block 3 tutor group. The week was marred by the weather, but what these Block 3s achieved is truly astounding. From ‘the source’, the menial tasks like organising kit rooms to the de-gunge at the end of the expedition, I’m sure everyone had worn a huge grin on their faces at some point. The Block 3s should be proud of themselves, as should the dozen 6.2 Badley Seniors who accompanied them.

Ullswater 2019 was a cyclical moment for me in my Bedales career. I remember Ullswater as a Block 3 vividly, from being dumped in a sail boat and half-rolling, half-falling down a hillside mid-expedition. (To be fair, the backpack was bigger than me!) The sixth formers who valiantly sacrificed their first week of their final school year had to endure creaky beds that had the authentic asylum experience and lacing up countless walking boots, although I’m sure everyone will say it was worth it.

To be back to where our Bedales journey started was super special. I know everyone has so many memories to share – more than I can put on one page. On the other hand, I bet the only thing that sticks out in the teachers minds is how loud we were every evening playing a notorious card game…

6.2 leavers raise over £11k for John Badley Foundation

Loet and Cian

Two 6.2 leavers marked the end of their time at Bedales by cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats during the summer break, raising £11,116 for the John Badley Foundation.

Louis Brouwer and Cian Watson set off from Land’s End on 13 July, and spent a fortnight cycling 1,000 miles to the country’s northernmost point.

Impressively, the pair opted to cycle unsupported, carrying their own kit for the entire journey. Overcoming hurdles, including an accident which wrote off Loet’s bike, and even celebrating Cian’s 18th birthday en route, the pair reached John O’Groats on 26 July.

Keen to show appreciation for their time at Bedales and to help others have such an educational opportunity, Loet and Cian used the challenge as an opportunity to fundraise for the John Badley Foundation, which offers financial support through bursaries to students whose family circumstances mean that an independent school education would normally be out of reach. We are grateful to the many 6.2 parents who supported this initiative.

Loet said: “I have always wanted to do something adventurous and physically challenging and I am really pleased that Cian agreed to join in too. Bedales has had such a huge impact in developing me into the person I am. By raising bursary funds through the John Badley Foundation, I’m able to give something back, help others and show appreciation for my education.”

New Pre-U in Global Perspectives & Research

By Abi Wharton, Head of Global Awareness

We are delighted to announce that we will commence teaching of the Cambridge Pre-U in Global Perspectives and Research from September 2019 in our vibrant Sixth Form Enrichment Programme.

It has long been a desire of parents, students and staff to introduce a sixth form offering to complement the BAC in Global Awareness which continues to develop in terms of popularity and success.

The Pre-U, which is suitable for all students, regardless of whether they have taken the BAC in Global Awareness, places academic specialisation in a practical, real-world context, being a seminar-based opportunity to research and explore a range of issues challenging people across the globe. Developing critical/analytical, research, and problem-solving skills essential to higher education, students will learn to place their personal perspectives in a global context, finding new inspiration and challenges for their studies.

During their study, students consider at least four topics taken from different themes. For example, genetic engineering, medical ethics and priorities, standard of living or quality of life, ethical foreign policies, or the religious-secular divide may be studied under the Ethics theme. Typically students develop the necessary skills to embark upon a realistic and meaningful research agenda.

Students will submit a presentation and an essay from their portfolio and sit an examination. The Independent Research Report gives candidates the chance to dig still deeper into a particular subject, or to cross boundaries by doing interdisciplinary work, or to make a new departure by investigating a subject not covered by traditional school syllabuses. Students submit a single piece of extended work on their chosen theme. Students can choose whether to take the Pre-U short course or to study for the two year Pre-U.

An increasing number of UK and international universities are providing statements of recognition for Cambridge Pre-U Global Perspectives and Research (GPR). In their view, Cambridge Pre-U GPR is an excellent preparation for undergraduate study since it gives real evidence of independent, critical thinking. This is applicable across all undergraduate subject areas due to the nature of the skills developed throughout the course.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further information.

Global Perspectives Pre-U | Two year syllabus | Short course syallbus

Visiting Thomas Hardy’s Wessex

Last Saturday, a group of 6.2 English students visited Dorset to visit some of the key sites in Thomas Hardy’s life, to complement their study of Tess of the d’Urbervilles and some of his poetry. Here are two perspectives from the trip.

By Magnus Bashaarat, Head of Bedales

Thomas Hardy didn’t move far in his life; the distance from his birthplace in Lower Bockhampton to Max Gate, the house he built for himself on the outskirts of Dorchester once he had found success, is less than two miles.

First up was Hardy’s birthplace, a small cottage that has remained largely unchanged from when Hardy lived there with his parents and siblings. We were led there by National Trust volunteer Wendy, who led us through the woodland above the cottage and read to us some of the poems Hardy wrote inspired by the landscape.

The most ambitious part of the trip followed with our group walking through steady Dorset drizzle, following the River Frome across which Angel Clare had carried Tess in Tess of the d’Urbervilles, to Stinsford Church, where Hardy’s heart is buried in the family tomb.

Further walking across boggy flood meadow took us to Max Gate, and a meeting with Andrew Leah, Vice President of the Thomas Hardy Society, who lived at Max Gate for 17 years before the National Trust opened it as a visitor attraction.

Andrew gave us a tour of each room and described movingly the creeping melancholy that coloured most of Hardy’s married life at Max Gate, followed by the guilt that consumed him after his wife’s death. We sat in the study room in which Hardy wrote Tess, and then moved next door to the room he took over when he turned his back on writing prose and wrote only poetry until his death.

By Thea Sesti, 6.2

By walking from one of Hardy’s homes to the other, we explored the landscape and the place Hardy was so tied to and served as a backdrop for so many of his works.

We were at times accompanied by a National Trust guide who read out some of Hardy’s poetry in the Dorset woodland, which clearly evidenced the sensibility and attachment to nature he had from a young age and emerged so prominently in some of his later novels, like Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

Having studied the text as part of A Level English, we were able to draw comparisons between the then appropriately damp and evocative scenery we came across walking and that in the book, making us understand all the more the area’s impact on Hardy’s life as an author.

We were thus able to retrace his life’s journey as he moved from his family cottage to Max Gate, the house he built for himself and moved into with the first of two wives, following the rise of his wealth and fame.