Kicking off half term with DofE Silver Practice Expedition

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English and DofE Manager

For 48 students in Blocks 4 and 5, half term began with a Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Silver Practice Expedition from Bedales to South Harting, once again organised by the approved activity provider Ridgeline Adventures.
 
The weekend began with a training session at Bedales on the morning of 28 May, during which the students – who were divided into eight groups of four – checked their kit and planned their routes before setting off. Like the Block 3 students who completed their Bronze Expedition last term, students navigated their way from Bedales to Duncombe Farm in East Meon, where they camped overnight.
 
The following day, students continued their journey along the South Downs Way, past the Sustainability Centre, setting up camp for the night at the bottom of Butser Hill in Queen Elizabeth Country Park. Here, we perfected cooking and camp craft and some Block 5s celebrated a sixteenth birthday with a Nigella Lawson chocolate Guinness cake, which I’d organised, Lucy McIlwraith’s daughter Lily baked and Head of Wellbeing Kirsten McLintock delivered to the camp. We were also visited by Deputy Head (Academic) Will Goldsmith, who drove to the campsite to greet everyone with boxes of Celebrations and Miniature Heroes, taking the time to talk to the students. Director of External Relations Rob Reynolds also paid us a visit while out cycling.
 
On the final day of the expedition, students travelled around the South Downs Way, following different routes to arrive at South Harting Hill at 3pm, where they were met by assessors for a debrief in glorious sunshine. At this stage participants were certainly ready for home comforts but the mood on the minibuses that returned to school was triumphant.
 
With the practice expedition complete, the group are now set to complete their Silver Expedition in the New Forest in the first week of the summer holiday. As terrain is tougher here, but navigation is trickier in the New Forest, it will not be without its challenges. The practice expedition presented challenges of its own, as those students who found themselves lost en route or over packed and struggled with a heavy backpack can testify! However, invaluable lessons have also been learned, particularly about working together as a team to overcome challenges and work towards a common goal.
 
Thank you to everyone who made the weekend a success – the students, the team from Ridgeline Adventures, and accompanying Bedales staff Allen Shone, David Mann and Kirsten McLintock.

Writing and producing ‘The Definition of Charisma’

By Nay Murphy, 6.2

With the support of Bedales, through the New Views Playwriting and Student Directed enrichments, I’ve written my own script – The Definition of Charisma – and I am being given a space to put it on on Wednesday 16 June in the Drama Studio (performances at 3pm and 7.30pm – book tickets here). This is an incredible way to end my time at Bedales – being supported with producing my own work, and gaining the skills and confidence to continue writing and producing in future with my theatre company, which I founded in Summer 2019 in order to give myself more theatrical opportunities, both in acting and directing, and now writing.
 
The play explores what it means to have a big imagination; it is about self-love and confidence, discussing religion, sexuality, philosophy and gender. I would say that above all, The Definition of Charisma is about friendship and the intensity that that can bring.
 
After much procrastination, I wrote the first draft in just three days last August. The process of editing then began, aided by David Anson, Head of English, and Hayley Cole, Head of Drama, who also helped with casting and rehearsal space. David’s advice for Charisma has been invaluable to me; it’s always good to find someone whose opinion you trust to ask for feedback on personal work and David is a teacher who is there to encourage through honesty, speaking to you like a grown person. Hayley provided an invaluable theatrical lens on the script, making me think more about the audience and other stage aspects. Hayley also forwarded my script to other theatre experts working at Bedales. My teachers at Bedales have really made this happen for me and their encouragement and genuine interest in my passion has continued to drive me forward. As part of the Drama enrichment I entered my script into the New Views Competition at the National Theatre and recently heard that it was longlisted.

The Definition of Charisma is a two-hander performed by the hilarious Ella Peattie, a fellow 6.2 student, and myself. Due to COVID, the original performance time was delayed. This said, we continued our weekly rehearsals over Zoom, working on characterisation; my idea for the rehearsal process was to form deep connections and understandings of our characters in order to allow for a fluid and natural staging. This is a technique influenced by Meisner, who focuses on reacting in the present moment, believing that no two performances should be the same. I’ve recently learned about this method through the Wednesday Industry Workshops programme, a class led by Ben Press, who will continue advice for me practically in rehearsal before the performance, given we got along so well.

I run the ‘NYT Playwriting Group’ at the National Youth Theatre and brought Ella along with me to a Tuesday-night Zoom to do a short R&D of our play – we did a play reading and received feedback from the fellow Playwriting Group members. This was extremely helpful for both of us as actors, and for me as a writer. Specifically, it was extremely special to hear people debate over themes in the play and Charlie and Sophia’s characters – something I had created was raising discussion. I then proceeded to write the final draft.

I’ve learned in the rehearsal process that performing one’s own work can be quite challenging – I’m performing a kind of version of myself, who’s also not me. It becomes hard to think of the character objectively, given that they are my own creation. This is a challenge I’m completely willing and happy to face and intrigued to see the outcome. Only by accepting challenges and having a willingness to fail can we produce our best work; this is definitely something I learned at the National Youth Theatre and at Bedales.

I write and I act because I’m curious about how people’s minds work and what drives them to perform certain actions. I think this is what primarily drives me forward, as well as the idea of empathy – if I can make an audience have a little more empathy after watching a performance of mine, then I’ve achieved my goal with it. As seen very recently with increased xenophobia, people often forget the humanity of others.

Ella and I are rehearsing the performance intensely during the 6.2 bridging courses over the period of a week. Student Directed is a drama bridging course and I’ve been offered extra support with industry professionals coming in for support, such as Ben Press’ return to help after we got along in his Meisner workshop. We really hope you can come and enjoy the hard work we’ve put into this.

Here’s what Ella has to say: “Sophia is an enigma. Cultivating her thoughts and reactions has been confusing, yet thrilling. It’s been a delightful experience creating her life story, cultivating her manner of walking and so much more. Come and see this freaky, fun-packed show.”

Tickets are available here: https://www.bedales.org.uk/event/definition-charisma

There will also be a stream of the performance later on in the summer – you can visit my theatre company website and join the mailing list to keep up to date at nakedbear.org.

Rain holds off for the Steephurst Summer Fête

By Sasha Arney, 6.1

The Steephurst Summer Fête was threatened by the looming rain clouds on Monday, but after a reshuffle, a wet weather plan was formed and the Steephurst helpers set up as planned. Luckily, the rain stopped just as the first few people arrived, and it stayed dry for the remainder of the fête.

Summer was in the air as queues of students from all year groups lined up for a hotdog at the barbecue stand, went to the face painting stall or attempted to guess how many sweets were in the jar in the courtyard. The waffle and pancake stand was also a great success, and within the hour, the large quantities Kamaya had dedicated her afternoon to preparing had been wolfed down! Many students and teachers had spent the weekend baking for the fête, so the cake stand’s delicious array of baked goods were also popular.

Behind the scenes, Aria had been busy planning the Summer Fête and was undoubtedly the backbone holding it all together. The event raised £700, which will give Grace – a young girl we sponsor through Action Aid – her education this year, and go towards some other charities that will be chosen in due course.

Leadership and service – Badley Mentors

By Kirsten McLintock, Head of Wellbeing & PSHE

With the application process now complete, we are excited to have launched a new programme for selected 6.1 students – the Badley Mentors.

The Badley Mentors are leading on promoting ‘wellbeing’ for the Bedales community whilst also providing peer support for the younger years. The group will be working primarily with Block 3 students; meeting new students and parents on our induction days, accompanying the Outward Bound trip to Cobnor each September and organising various student social events throughout the year. The Badley Mentors will also be leading Saturday tutor times each week and are attached to a Block 3 tutor group, facilitating discussions on topics such as respect, inclusivity, befriending, values, freedom, identity and living in the Bedales community.

The mentors have completed a full day of training delivered by Peter Bradley, CEO of Safe Child Thailand and former Director of Kidscape, whose experience with safeguarding matters and issues such as bullying is immense. The mentors will be available to the entire student community as a friendly, listening and approachable ear for one-to-one peer mentoring, in addition to meeting parents, reviewing school polices and visiting the Day and Boarding houses. I am excited to be working with the Badley Mentors on this new endeavour and the possibilities it holds.

Sport update: District Athletics, Mountbatten Stadium

By Mariela Walton, Teacher of PE & Sport

On 18 May, we took 18 of our Block 3 and 4 athletes down to the Mountbatten Stadium for the District Athletics event. In previous years we have taken 40 or 50 of our top athletes down to compete, but due to COVID restrictions, our numbers were limited meaning we took smaller teams and required all of our athletes to compete in multiple events.

Despite the rain in Petersfield the sun shone down on us in Portsmouth, and thanks to the excellent commitment displayed by our Bedales students, we managed to fill each event and get some exciting podium finishes!

Sage Bidwell cinched the win in the Inter Girls’ 200m, Greta Stillwell took first place in the Junior Girls’ Shot Put and Sol Arbib comfortably won the Inter Boys’ 1500m, with a time of just 4.55. First place finishes also went to Bruno Heggie, Louis Pattison, Sam Gibbon and Lola Mackay. Jago Levine qualified for the next round and will have the opportunity to compete at the Regional Athletics meet for Shot Put. He will be joined by Gordon Thistleton-Smith, who qualified with his 100m time.

After a successful day of events both of the Block 3 teams finished in fourth position of eight, which was a great effort. Our Block 4 boys team finished in second place out of nine, and our Block 4 Girls team took home the win, coming first out of seven teams. 

Celebrating the ‘head, hand and heart’ experience

By Laura Greene, Block 5 BPA Rep & BPA Gatherings

This week saw the third and final Bedales Parents’ Association (BPA) gathering of the school year with a talk entitled ‘Bedales Outside the Classroom: Delivering the Head, Hand and Heart Experience’ (watch a recording of the talk here).
 
Lead by Deputy Head (Operational and Co-Curricular) Phil Tattersall-King, we were also joined by Spencer Leach (Director of Sport), Doug McIlwraith (Director of Music) and Jess Warren (Head of Psychology and Enrichment), along with two current Bedales students, Kam Nelson-Clayton (Block 5) and Jess Asamoa (6.1).
 
We looked at what’s on offer across the unique and far-reaching Bedales landscape outside of the classroom curriculum, and why these activities form such a vital part of the holistic Bedales experience for students and their families. We also delved into the need to strike the right balance between the compulsory and optional provision of music, sport, theatre and the myriad other opportunities available during a student’s time at Bedales.
 
The BPA are grateful to the team for giving us their time and energy and we’re so looking forward to holding more events like this one in the coming school year. Some online gatherings for those who can’t make it into school will remain, but we’re thrilled to start planning to gather together in person once again too!
 
One of the best takeaways from this week’s talk for me was the prospect of so many exciting events already lined up on the imminent school calendar that showcase the richness of our school’s co-curricular programme, with orchestral concerts, plays and dance recitals, the Rock Show and of course Parents’ Day all coming up before the end of this Summer Term. We look forward to seeing you around the campus and enjoying all that makes Bedales such a special place to be, together.

New Drama production available to watch online

By Hayley Cole, Head of Drama

At the end of another busy half term for Drama, I wanted to take the opportunity to praise student achievements and share news of projects about to be shared.

Machinal by Sophie Treadwell will be released daily episode by episode from Friday. The Spring Production started at home, and we wanted to share it with you at home. Rehearsals took place online and students were filmed individually. The footage was then edited into the nine-episode play. To access the links, visit the Bedales Events page. The whole show will be available for one week after all of the episodes have been released, in case you need to catch up or would prefer to binge watch!

The Summer Production, Chariots of Fire, is now well underway, and rehearsals are filling the Theatre and the Quad with energetic Block 3 and 4 students. We look forward to sharing this spectacular show with you on Parents’ Day or in the evening performances preceding it. Book tickets here.

Our Wednesday workshops have continued, and we have had the pleasure of working with Kate Winslet, Ben Muir and Martha Dancy on characterisation, dialect, the Meisner Technique and preparing for a career in the Arts. Martha, alongside the department, supported the 6.2s who applied for drama school this year. I am thrilled to share that August Janklow has received a place at East 15 on the Acting and Contemporary Theatre course and Nay Murphy has a place at the School Jacques LeCoq in Paris, alongside being shortlisted and awaiting final lists from Royal Central and Bristol Old Vic. We are incredibly proud of their achievements and Martha and I look forward to supporting the 6.1s with similar aspirations in their applications next year.

Nay was also longlisted in the National Theatre’s New Views playwriting competition, which you read about in an earlier Bulletin this term. It is a phenomenal achievement, considering the 600 plus applications. This competition is the culmination of the Playwriting enrichment course we run in Drama, and it is an excellent opportunity for those who want to refine their technique or try playwriting with teacher-led sessions and visits from a professional playwright.

Our other enrichment course is Student Directing and I am pleased that, having been temporarily halted during lockdown, the two plays are due to be realised in performance next half term. Nay is directing his play, The Definition of Charisma, and August is directing Sam Shepherd’s True West

Intrepid Bedalians complete Bronze DofE Expedition 

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English and DofE Manager

Last weekend, the team from the approved activity provider Ridgeline Adventures returned to run a two-day Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Bronze Expedition from Bedales to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park.
 
On Saturday morning, 33 Block 3 students walked out of Bedales in five groups for the first leg of the expedition to Duncombe Farm, East Meon. Each group, supported by an assessor from Ridgeline Adventures, had planned a different route to East Meon, which is around 2.5 hours from Bedales in a straight-line distance.
 
Although each of the groups were required to pass the Seven Stars pub on the A272 as part of their journey, the different routes they followed varied their experiences, as one group – who found themselves lost en route, and were forced to backtrack to get back on course – can testify! There were other challenges, too, such as loose soles on one student’s walking boots, which she successfully repaired after improvising with some duct tape. With the first group arriving at Duncombe Farm at 3.30pm, and the last group arriving at 6.30pm, the first day proved that you don’t always need to travel far for an adventure.
 
After camping overnight in East Meon, early morning birdsong at 3.30am provided an unwelcome wake-up call on day two. However, despite the birds’ morning chorus, the start of the day was deferred until 5.30am, when one student decided it was time to start dismantling his tent ready for the second part of his journey – much to the exasperation of his campmates!
 
Once everyone was up for the day, the students continued onward on their expedition to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, ploughing their energy into scaling Butser Hill from the North side. On reaching the top, groups were met by assessors for a debrief, before they triumphantly walked down to meet the school minibuses and parents in the Visitor Centre car park. “How long will it take us to get back to school?” a student asked me as we reached our destination, to which I replied it would take around 10 minutes. “We’ve only travelled 10 minutes?!” was his bewildered response.
 
Thank you to everyone who made the weekend a success – the enthusiastic Block 3 students, the exceptional team from Ridgeline Adventures, and accompanying Bedales staff Gordon Dale, Clive Burch and Paul Beauchamp. This weekend it is the turn of Block 4 & 5 students as they complete their Silver Practice Expedition, also with Ridgeline Adventures.

Reflections on the NCEM Young Composers Award

An original composition by a Block 3 student Shoshana was recently shortlisted in the National Centre for Early Music (NCEM)’s Young Composers Award 2021. After performing her composition in the final on 13 May, Shoshana reflects here on her experience in the competition. Listen to Shoshana’s composition, ‘Dancing Through Time’, here.

By Shoshana Yugin-Power, Block 3

When I first heard about the NCEM Young Composers Award, I knew I had to enter for the chance to meet my favourite ensemble, Palisander. As a recorder player myself, I was keen to rise to the challenge to create a piece of dance music for four recorders.

The brief was broad and any dance music was allowed. I was inspired by the numerous YouTube videos I watched in lockdown of things changing rapidly through time – such as fashion, dance and music – and was particularly interested in the idea of the transition between the styles. My goal was to meet Palisander in person by being shortlisted for the final, but I never imagined that would really happen! I was thrilled to be contacted by NCEM to say I was in the final, after they had selected my piece from 68 other entries.

After numerous lockdowns and months when social distancing and bubbles had prevented orchestras and ensembles from gathering, it was with real excitement that I made my way to the city of York, home of the National Centre of Early Music, for the final earlier this month. Once I arrived in York (by train – I enjoyed every moment of the journey, including delays, as public transport in itself is something of a novelty at the moment), I made my way to St Margaret’s Church.

I was one of five finalists in the Under 18 category of the competition, which was sponsored by BBC Radio 3. I spent the day listening to the other finalists’ pieces and attending engaging workshops led by Dr Christopher Fox and Palisander. I was amazed with the standard of the other finalists and it was fascinating to see their interpretation of the brief.  The moment I heard the winning entry in the Under 18 category, I knew it would be the winner – even before I heard the others. It was the dance of swallows in a murmuration.

In the workshop, I had to present my piece and work with Palisander to develop it even further. I learnt so much about how to negotiate changes to my piece to suit the players and how to present my work confidently. In the evening, there was a private concert involving all the young composers’ pieces as well as several pieces from Palisander’s repertoire.

The whole day was an incredible experience. Not only has enabled me to see myself as a composer, but I made many new friends and contacts, the winning composer gave me a copy of the winning entry to play with my recorder friends, and I am already writing my next piece with much more confidence than I previously had.

Supporting positive mental health

By Laura Wells, School Nurse

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, the Health Centre would like to highlight some great resources for children and their parents, ranging from local charities to nationwide organisations.

We recognise that following this last year’s events, everyone is in a different place concerning their mental health and if you are looking for any information on specific conditions, support networks or wellbeing information please look at the websites and phone numbers below. We are always open to be contacted by parents or students for further support or signposting to relevant organisations at bedaleshealthcentre@bedales.org.uk.

Young Minds, the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health, has information for parents here. Parents/caregivers can also contact Young Minds via their helpline (0808 802 5544) or by email (parents@youngminds.co.uk).

Hope Line UK is a confidential support and advice service for children and young people under the age of 35 who are experiencing thoughts of suicide, or anyone concerned that a young person could be thinking about suicide. Contact their helpline (0800 068 4141), send a text (07860039967) or email them (pat@papyrus-uk.org).

Sane is a leading mental health charity with a range of information and resources available on their website and a helpline (07984 967708) operated by professionals and trained volunteers.

Rethink is a charity helping to improve the lives of people severely affected by mental illness through our network of local groups, services and expert information. 

Mind offers information and support for anyone living with or supporting someone with a mental health condition. Their website includes information for young people aged 11-18 here.

Headspace is an app designed to improve the health and happiness of the world through meditation mindfulness. The app is free to try, and you can subscribe for full access to meditations and mindfulness exercises covering everything from negative self-talk to how to improve motivation.

No Limits is a an award-winning, Hampshire-based, independent charity providing a unique combination of prevention, early intervention and crisis support to young people. Details about their virtual services, drop-ins and support groups can be found on their website.

Mermaids is a charity supporting gender-diverse kids, young people and their families. Their website includes information for young people and parents/caregivers.