Walking in lockdown

By Chloe Nicklin, Head of Netball

This week, students have been sharing the view from the walks they have been completing as part of their exercise in lockdown. Thank you to Clara Stannah, Lula Goldring, Maia Blake, Maya Martin, Milly Trench, Nissi Mavurah, Posy Kingsley-Pallant and Rosy Riley for their contributions.

The cognitive interview

By Anna Sukhikh and Livy Ewing, 6.1

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic the various talks and conferences A Level Psychology students typically would have the opportunity to attend has been limited. However, on Thursday we were fortunate to meet Detective Constable Samantha Hockley in our Psychology lesson for a talk on the cognitive interview, a questioning technique used by the police to enhance retrieval of information about a crime scene from the eyewitnesses and victim’s memory.

Samantha has been working in the police force for 19 years, and as a detective for eight. As a detective, the cognitive interview plays a big role in her everyday life. The cognitive interview is a procedure used by police when interviewing witnesses and victims of crime and is one of the techniques of eyewitness testimony that we learnt about in class. The cognitive interview was developed by Geiselman in 1985, who found that the standard police interview could negatively interfere with eyewitness recall. This technique was further researched by Fischer in 1990, who found that witnesses gave accounts in greater detail when detectives were trained to use the cognitive interview. Sam herself has had much success with this method, including helping to prove a stalker guilty, resulting in a 10-year sentence. 

Sam highlights the importance of making the interviewee feel comfortable. She does this by finding common ground and making herself seem approachable, saying that she likes to appear maternal to the witness/victim. This was slightly surprising to us as we have been conditioned to believe that detectives are often hostile. Upon further discussion, we realised there is a significant importance to making the witness/victim feel comfortable as it can reduce high anxiety, which may negatively impact accurate recall. 

Sam also points out it can be difficult to avoid leading questions, although sometimes it is necessary, because she does not want to place false information into the victim’s head, which could later be used against them in court. This was a really interesting experience for us as a class, as we were able to hear about how the cognitive interview is used in practice and the experience from the side of the interviewer.  

‘Inspiring and uplifting’ Wednesday Workshops in Drama

By Hayley Cole, Head of Drama

Last lockdown we introduced online, industry-style workshops with professionals in the field. These included online seminars with prolific playwrights and practitioners, alongside well-known and admired OBs, all sharing their insight and passion for following a career in the arts. When back at school last term, these continued in the form of ‘Wednesday Workshops’ (pictured above), which were well-received by students, who gained insight into the industry first-hand and met incredible actors and audition coaches who have helped fuel their ambition and refine their skills.

Now we are in lockdown again, we wanted the opportunity to continue online, and Eve Allin has been organising a vibrant and varied programme of workshops. Students can attend voluntarily in Wednesday’s Powell Time slot each week. Look out for what is on offer next term, and please join us if the topic or speaker sparks your interest. Here, students who have attended share their experiences.

Jessica Asamoa, 6.1 
On Wednesday I participated in a fantastic workshop led by OB Roly Botha. It was a fantastic opportunity for us to develop our skills in monologues, and we all learned a lot from the brilliant feedback which was given. Most importantly, everyone had a lovely time and enjoyed it so much that we all stayed behind at the end to ask questions. It was an extremely enjoyable and engaging workshop.

Eliza Hayward, Block 3
I really enjoyed the recent Drama workshop with Hebe Bartlett. It was really interesting to talk to someone with so much experience. She was engaging and helpful, and gave us such great tips for self-taping and how to get into the acting industry. It was a lot of fun and I learnt a lot. I’m looking forward to more of these workshops.

Nay Murphy, 6.2 and Drama Don
A wonderful and informative workshop led by charismatic Hebe, who is introducing us to the world of professional auditions.

Stella Miller, Block 5
Throughout lockdown, Eve has been putting on the most amazing drama workshops. I was profoundly inspired and uplifted by one of her workshops on theatre directing, where she talked us through the process of directing a play from start to finish; I was even galvanised into conjouring up a whole play of my own from scratch. I could not think of a better way to spend a Wednesday evening in lockdown than talking all things drama with Eve and other OBs.

A letter to 6.2 A Level English

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English

For the past two years, I have been in the unusual position of teaching a whole cohort of A Level English students. What a privilege this has been; first to get to know you all last year through studying the contemporary Poems of the Decade and an evening with Julia Copus, and then to guide you through some of the pressures of online learning.  

Certainly, my most fulfilling teaching moments last spring involved supporting many of you as you wrote your coursework essays. We worked together, adopting university-style tutorials that were really conducive to the task at hand. In this intimate learning environment, you rigorously dismantled and reassembled your analytical arguments, embedding close textual analysis and context into essays, and become young but impressive scholars of Seamus Heaney, and Arundhati Roy. It is wonderful that I have taught one or two of you since Block 4 and that a number of you are now determined to study English at university: what more could a teacher want?

In the autumn term of this academic year your focus and determination were remarkable. At times as a teacher managing the new COVID secure protocol on site was tough; but it was worth it so that I could introduce you to Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf in person and watch you draw comparisons between this novel and her older sister Wuthering Heights. Both novels deal radically with early forms of mental health, a subject on which you often edify me.You demonstrated such maturity and sensitivity in November, embracing hybrid teaching early on so that those of you at home self-isolating could stay part of the class discussion. You make me very proud and are a credit to your parents.

I believe passionately that we learn much from creating peak experiences inside and outside the class room and I had hoped to take you on a weekend trip to Haworth in Yorkshire, to visit the Parsonage where Emily Bronte died and to walk up onto the Moors to Top Withens, a remote, abandoned farm considered to be the inspiration for her only novel. Instead we returned to our homes and computer screens and I have had the challenge of trying to inspire you with the poetry of John Keats. 

A poet of the senses, he is a joy to teach in the winter and early spring in Steep, ideally in the Meditation Hut or the Lupton Hall, where two years ago I launched the first ‘Eve of St Agnes Experience’ with Lucy McIlwraith. 

This year I asked you to work on collaborative creative responses to the poem and I have been amazed at what you have achieved from homes many miles apart. Your original work neatly coincides with the publication of an essay entitled ‘Weavers of Dreams in The Eve of St Agnes and A Midsummer Night’s Dream‘ in the English and Media Centre EMAG, co-authored with my partner in Keatsian crime, Lucy. I’ve decided this will be my third and last Keats’ experience, and hope to teach Shakespeare next year. It makes sense to end on such a high.

To all of my 6.2 English students: thank you. “St Agnes moon hath set.” 

A changing approach for Further Maths

By James Welham, Head of Maths

With around 90,000 students in the UK opting for A Level Maths, and around 15,000 of those opting for Further Maths, Maths remains a popular choice, both at Bedales and in the UK, and highly regarded by universities.
 
Up to now we have taught Further Maths distinctly from Maths: different classes ensuring that those opting for further mathematics were taught separately. In 6.1, Further Maths students completed the Maths A Level, waiting until 6.2 to start – and complete within the year – the Further Maths A Level. Whilst this approach has many merits, it also has some negative impacts on both groups of students.
 
I am deeply conscious of the challenges that the current Block 5 students have faced.  Two periods of national lockdown and the uncertainty of grades this summer has meant that students starting their studies in September will do so from a very different point than might have done under normal teaching conditions.  With that in mind, giving students the best possible chance to succeed with maths has never been more important.  Therefore we are going to change the way we teach Further Maths next year.

Students opting for Maths and Further Maths in September will learn both A Levels in parallel. In 6.1, students will start both the Maths and Further Maths A Levels, taking the full two years to complete both courses.  They will learn mathematics alongside single maths students, mixing with their peers and importantly taking time to revise and build upon their work at IGCSE.  In Further Maths classes they will study Core 1, the first of the two compulsory modules, and be introduced to topics such as Complex numbers and Matrices.  They will also study Decision Mathematics, a new area of mathematics for many and one with applications to computer science.  Studying these two modules in 6.1 offer an early opportunity for pupils to be introduced to some interesting and challenging ideas whilst exploring new areas of maths.  In 6.2, students will complete their study of Maths and study two more modules, so completing Further Maths.

For those students whom this will affect, I hope that this explanation will bring both clarity and a sense of excitement about what next year might hold.

A selection of Sixth Form Art

By Andy Cheese, Teacher of Art

In this week’s Art update, I’m sharing some work from our Sixth Form students. These pieces are part of the work set over the Christmas holiday – some are prep and others are the students’ responses to mock exam papers. While online learning comes with its challenges, Art lessons have been very positive so far. See more of the students’ artwork below.

Filmmaking, comic strip designing, podcast recording and lecturing – English students embrace online learning

By Lucy McIlwraith, Teacher of English

As teachers, we’re very aware of the problems associated with screen-time and have been looking for ways to have students present their ideas that don’t involve toiling in the blue light of their laptops. So, over the last few weeks of online learning, Bedales students have had lots of opportunities to present their work in all sorts of ways. Here are a few of the things students have been doing with the English department.

In Block 3, students have been producing their book reviews as short films, some of which you can see here.

The Block 4 English Language students have been studying a variety of 19th century fiction genres and learning about what has made novels so successful. As part of this, many of them have been asked to make comic strips or Gothic films as a way to understand just why isolated castles, terrible weather and mysterious strangers have become such integral parts of Gothic literature. You may remember this is something we did with last year’s Block 4s in the summer term so maybe we have the makings of a yearly film festival at Bedales! See some great examples from Julia’s class here.

6.1 English Literature students are currently studying A Streetcar Named Desire and have been given a choice of performance tasks. We have some students writing re-creative scenes, re-imagining Blanche, Stanley and Stella in different times and places; some aim to learn and perform a key speech of one of the main characters with costume and full dramatic effects; others are working on mini-lectures about themes and ideas in the play such as how music is integral to an audience’s experience of the play in the theatre. 

Block 5 and 6.2 students have been preparing for internal assessments but they have still been able to get away from their screens to produce useful revision materials for each other. Block 5 have produced informative documentaries about something they know well such as climate change or chicken-keeping in order to practise the skills they need for paper 2 of their GCSE English Language exam.

Meanwhile, 6.2 English Literature students have been busiest of all, making lectures about ‘Othello’ either as audio files or filming themselves (in Jago’s case, filming his hands making meticulous notes!) 

The pièce de résistance, though, will doubtless be the now traditional Eve of St Agnes Experience which this year has had to undergo some changes. Unfortunately, we can’t recreate the midnight feast enjoyed by the poem’s characters Madeline and Porphyro in the same way as in previous years, but can still wish ourselves into their world with photos re-creating key scenes and poetry workshops writing verses we think Keats would have included if he could! Look out for more on this from Julia in next week’s Bulletin.

Deanna Rodger inspires

By Jamie Thorogood, Block 4

At the start of this lockdown, I was worried we’d be missing out on all of Bedales’ brilliant talks and performances… but I stand corrected! This week we were visited by Deanna Rodger, a multi-award-winning slam poet, who joined us online to lead a workshop for Bedales students and give a poetry reading for Bedales Events’ annual Poetry Series.

For the workshop, there were about 12 of us, so it was easy to ask questions and get our voices heard. We started the workshop with an icebreaker – each of us had to write small sentences on what ‘freedom’ meant to us. Then, we compiled them all into one big, spoken poem, and Deanna performed it for us (I’m surprised at how good it sounded, honestly). In the end, I think we all concluded that ‘freedom’ for us meant not having to set an alarm in the morning!

Next, Deanna introduced us to free writing. Essentially, we had to write about something for three minutes without stopping or taking our pen off the page. It’s an exercise that really helps with writer’s block. Our first topic title was ‘A mother once said’, and we had three minutes to write a poem with that title. I did struggle a bit with it at first, but I got the hang of it eventually. After those three minutes we quickly moved on to the second title, ‘My face as a map’, then after that, the last one: ‘Home as a smell’. Once we’d put all our thoughts onto paper, Deanna told us to take our favourite sections from each of them and compile them into one, big poem. Although this stumped me slightly (I didn’t know where to start!), there were some absolutely gorgeous poems from everybody else.

After the workshop, there was just enough time for a quick dinner before Deanna’s poetry reading, talk and Q&A for Bedales Events. To open the event, Deanna led another icebreaker. We were told to think of the emotion we’d been feeling most that day, then write that emotion as a place, a food, a mode of transport and a person (I chose hopeful).

After that, Deanna started her talk. I bet it was hard talking to yourself in front of a camera, but she was so friendly it was like you were in the room with her. She performed two of her poems, Being British and Ode to Summer Infant Duo, both of which were engaging and beautifully structured. Afterwards, Head of English David Anson hosted a Q&A where Deanna talked about her inspirations (Mariah Carey, obviously), the time she wrote her first poem (after having a fight, obviously), and her plans to write a Disney musical (as does everyone else, obviously).

Both the talk and the workshop were excellent, and it was great getting advice from a real poet. I’m sure I can say on behalf of everyone that I hope Deanna comes back soon.

Volunteering for DofE

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English and DofE Manager

While we are in lockdown, it is trickier than usual for students to complete the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award, but I am pleased to see that so many of them remain committed to completing the various sections of the programme despite the circumstances we find ourselves in.

For the Volunteering section of the Bronze Award, Block 3 student Mo Griffiths wrote to West Wittering Estate to request permission to do some litter picking on West Wittering beach. They were very happy for Mo to litter pick at the beach and, as well as giving Mo a quick safety briefing before he set off, offered to lend him a litter picker. Mo wore gloves for the activity and chose to focus on picking up small pieces of plastic which don’t decompose and can stick around indefinitely, causing problems for marine ecosystems.

I look forward to seeing more students’ contributions to their DofE Award in the coming weeks.

Building resilience: practical strategies in wellbeing

By Kirsten McLintock, Head of Wellbeing & PSHE

In Wellbeing, we are taking the opportunity during online learning to delve into the practical strategies that we should all have in order to cultivate a resilient spirit. Resilience is at the heart of wellbeing. Over the coming weeks, Blocks 3-5 will be focusing on practising the five pillars of resilience; fostering healthy emotional and mental health strategies for life; learning to manage the uncomfortable and struggles in life; mindfulness practice; and connection and support.

All five pillars of resilience are crucial, but in the coming weeks we will focus on developing self-awareness, self-care and mindfulness practice in our Wellbeing sessions. This week, Bedalians have produced a ‘Wellness Jar’ detailing the activities they are going to do on a daily and weekly basis (plus emergencies and treats) in order to be resilient, thus developing healthy emotional and mental health for life. Have a look at my Wellness Jar below. Students have been asked to share the contents of the Wellness Jar with their loved ones.

Additional strategies for fostering resilience discussed in our Wellbeing lessons have included the importance of keeping routines going – including 9-10 hours of sleep, meal times, exercise, play, cognitively stimulating activities, work and relaxation – so that days have rhythm and structure and are not spent inactive. Endless time without structure, meaning and purpose is unhealthy for the body and mind.

There are a number of resources available for parents and teenagers for mental/emotional health issues. Young Minds has a free helpline for parents (0808 802 5544, available 9.30am-4pm, Monday to Friday), as well as a useful website. Helpful information can also be found on the Royal College of Psychiatrists website. Young people can access support from helplines, text lines and online chat services at any time – Childline (0800 1111), Young Minds Crisis Messenger (text YM to 85258) and the Mix (0808 808 4994).