By Jack Duff Gordon, 6.1 and Rob Reynolds, Director of External Relations and DofE Volunteer
Following the recent Block 3 Bronze DofE expedition, it was the turn of 10 intrepid 6.1 students who completed their Gold Practice in a very inhospitable Dartmoor over the Coronation Bank Holiday weekend. The students’ resilience and determination were fully tested in looking out for each other and coping with the harsh conditions. Despite some tightening up of wild camping spaces, we found suitable spots and there were opportunities to enjoy the beauty of the Dartmoor National Park whose granite tors, rich coloured rivers and open landscapes have inspired authors, poets, and artists for years. Overall the expedition was an excellent learning opportunity about the importance of looking after self and kit, and adapting to the various challenges of an expedition. The students should be proud of their achievement. Next stop for the Gold students in June: Bannau Brycheiniog (formerly known as the Brecon Beacons).
Jack Duff Gordon (6.1), who completed the expedition, commented: “While the walk had its ups and downs both literally and metaphorically, it was a good way of getting to know people better and make other friendships stronger. It was a good lesson in how important the basic human needs of water, shelter and warmth are. Despite the fact that warmth was sometimes not achieved, it was a positive experience – and some proper type 2 fun.”
For the last eight months a team of approximately 20 students from Block 3 to 6.1 have been building and electric race car in the Design workshop. We have been doing this with the aim of competing in the national Greenpower competition. It would not have been possible to even start this undertaking without the very generous granting of funds by the Bedales Parents’ Association (BPA) nearly a year ago.
The Greenpower Educational Trust organise this annual competition each year with the aim of engaging young people about science and engineering by challenging them to design, build and race an electric race car which the students drive themselves.
It was with great excitement, and trepidation, that 12 students from Block 3, Block 5 and 6.1 accompanied by three staff entered our first ever event last Sunday (8 May) at one of the spiritual homes of motorsport in the UK – the glorious Goodwood Motor Circuit. It was a fantastic day in which we experienced the full range of emotions associated with any form of motorsport.
The day started off well with a few practice laps to fine tune the car and clock up some all-important driver experience. Unfortunately however our hopes seemed dashed moments into the first actual race of the day. The car suffered a power failure resulting in only about half our power making to the wheels. Our drivers persevered for a few laps until we decided to pit the car and remedy the issue. After nearly two and half hours of trouble shooting, maintenance and stress we managed to get the car back up and running. We were very fortunate that a couple of Greenpower volunteers and one of our competition, in the spirit of our shared endeavour, provided us with some assistance. Many many thanks to those who helped us in our hours of need. Frustratingly no one could accurately diagnose the mystery gremlin so we prepared the car as best we could and entered the second round.
Thankfully the period of doubt and anxiety was swiftly replaced by heart racing joy, elation and exuberance as the car and drivers performed fantastically well in the second round. Our car was fixed, it leapt to life as it should and sped away clocking up an above average 28 miles of racing in the afternoon. The relief was wiped from every face – we had succeeded and were competitively racing! It was an awesome feeling to be able to share in this success and reap the rewards of our many hours of hard work in building our first race car.
It was a long but utterly worthwhile day spent in the wonderful sunshine at Goodwood culminating in an incredibly successful first outing for the car and team. I am so incredibly proud of all who helped build the car, those who raced it and to all those who accompanied and supported us on the day.
I would like to say an enormous and heartfelt thank you to the BPA on behalf of the entire team for the opportunity to get this far and for the many races ahead. We are already planning ways to improve and prepare the car for our next race in September at Dunsfold.
Last week we had another memorable evening in the Bakehouse, making our famous Christmas puddings with our 6.1 Living with the Land students and their guests. It’s always a shock to hear Christmas music so early in the year, but the big day is only 43 days away!
There was stirring, singing, chatting, zesting and lots of Christmas cheer as we spent the evening making 115 puddings, kindly steamed the next day by the wonderful Matt Potts and his catering team.
Pardon the pun, but these puddings usually sell like hot cakes, so if you’d like to get one, make your way over to our farm shop beside the Bakehouse as soon as possible where they’re ready and ribboned up for Christmas.
As I’m sure most of you are aware, Outdoor Work is run as a cottage industry as well as a department within the school. This unique position allows us to offer you a selection of homemade goods, most of which have been made by students, whenever possible using produce grown here.
This year, you’ll find preserves and honey, as well as sheepskins from our own Jacob flock, each one boasting its own unique, distinctive pattern. We also have a new range of shawls, scarves and blankets from our Jacob fleece, all woven for us at Melin Teifi in Wales. These make brilliant Christmas gifts; allowing the recipient to take a bit of Bedales with them, wherever they go.
All profits are ploughed back into Outdoor Work, so please take a good look; staff, students and animals greatly appreciate your support. A very merry, very premature Christmas from all of us in Outdoor Work!
On Thursday, A Level Psychology and Biology students were joined by Dr Guy Sutton for ‘Brain Day’. It was an inspiring day full of talks, ranging from the effects of drugs on the brain, criminality, brain trauma and the future of the brain. We even got to witness a live dissection of a sheep brain, exploring the different areas of the brain. The day showcased the far-reaching impacts of psychology and neuroscience and its relevance to many unsuspecting aspects of life.
The morning saw a detailed introduction to the structure of the brain, as well as the concepts of neuroplasticity and imaging techniques. This included contemporary studies on the effects of COVID-19 and the Abracadabra project, which studied the long term effects of cognitive stimulation in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas. This was followed up by an informative look at the effects of drugs such as cannabis and ketamine on the brain. It was especially interesting to learn of the vastly different effects various forms of cannabis can have – THC causes cognitive impairment, while CBD can be used as a treatment for epilepsy, for example. Just before lunch, we had a look at various neuroimaging techniques. Students particularly enjoyed the vivid images produced by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), as well as the extremely complex connectomes being created.
After lunch, Dr Sutton explored possible explanations of schizophrenia before giving a powerful talk on the ‘criminal brain’. Looking at different case studies, we were able to explore the complexity of the causes behind crime and the debate of free will. This revealed the philosophical questions that underpin both psychological and neuroscientific research. After this, we had the exciting brain dissection, which gave us a chance to see the structures discussed during the day. Everyone was intrigued by the strange texture of the brain and enjoyed inspecting the hippocampus and cerebellum.
To end the day, there was a talk on the future of the brain, with the discussion of neuro-bionics and the impending fusion of the brain and technology. This sparked much debate about the ethics and morals of advancing research and left us thinking about the future of neuroscience.
By Pip Stamp, Teacher of Psychology
I was extremely proud of our students on Brain Day. To quote Dr Guy Sutton: “I always enjoy visiting Bedales. I was particularly impressed this year, given what has happened over the past 18 months, of how attentive and receptive the students were. They engaged fully, asked some great questions and equally, answered my questions with intelligent and thoughtful responses. Generally, a really delightful, attentive and polite audience and I very much look forward to visiting again.”
On Wednesday, staff and students came together for the inaugural Garrett Day. As Badley Day and Powell Day do, Garrett Day gave us a valuable opportunity to work together in a ‘whole school effort’, practising the school motto – ‘Work of Each for Weal of All’ – while working on a range of projects to improve the outdoor environment at Bedales and beyond.
This year’s projects saw Outdoor Work BAC students dismantle an old chicken hut in preparation for replacing it with a new timber framed building as part of their BAC and timber framing enrichment next year, while others dug foundations for a field shelter on the field by the Roman Road. As well as litter-picking, baking, wool sorting and weeding ten wheelbarrows worth of thistles in the meadow between ODW and Art & Design, students volunteered at Steep Primary, where they moved an existing chicken coop, re-fixed four existing fence posts and installed six new ones, installed approximately 20 metres of chicken wire, and built and provided a gate.
Block 5 student Raph, who volunteered at Steep Primary, said: “We spent our time digging and placing posts, followed by lining the perimeterwith chicken wire and creating some doors as a way in and out. It was an enjoyable and rewading day, and worth the effort we put in.”
Global Awareness sessions sparked enlightening discussions on diversity (read more about the sessions below), while the Parents’ Day Exhibition began to take shape in the Art & Design Building, rehearsals for the Summer Production and Parents’ Day Concert were in full swing in the Theatre and Lupton Hall, enthusiastic games of Flag Football were played out on the Steephurst pitches, and students practised their calligraphy skills in the Memorial Library and visited Dunannie to read to our youngest pupils.
Block 5 student Ava said: “On Monday I took part in Garrett Day, starting in a ‘whole school effort’, litter-picking around the campus. The weather wasn’t great so I was kitted out with wellies and waterproofs. Later, I dug the foundations for the field shelter with Clive and Al. It was a good hands-on project, and I enjoyed getting messy in the mud. After lunch, we watched the Head Student Team’s Assembly, where we voted for next year’s Head Student Team. I then went to play Flag Football on Steephurst pitches – this was great fun and enabled me to play sport with other year groups and get to know them better. Finally, I went to paint the Pavilion and did some pond clearing on Boys’ Flat. Garrett Day was a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the campus and work together outside timetabled lessons.”
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.
Three weeks into the new term and three phenomenal Wednesday Workshops have already been delivered. We have been so lucky with the wealth of experience that has been shared in these workshops and the generosity of professionals in the industry to share their time and their insight with our students has been invaluable.
Kate Winslet returned to deliver another workshop on characterisation, sharing her scripts and her own character notes alongside photographs from set. The students were enthralled by the schedules and script edits they saw and could truly appreciate the graft of acting and the research and exploration an actor should and must do to truly inhabit a role. Kate then delivered a separate more intimate session on American dialect for a student directed group and the difference in accents used by the actors at the end was astonishing. I know they will continue to practise using the crib sheets and techniques taught – and I will too!
Ben Press delivered his second session in person, and it was lovely to welcome him to Bedales and for him to share his experience and expertise in the Meisner method. Students were intrigued by this different way of working and the simplicity of responding and reacting to create truth on stage. I look forward to learning every Wednesday with the students and gaining these industry insights in the most memorable way.
Read a selection of students’ perspectives on the workshops below.
Poppy Brough, 6.2
Kate Winslet, a world-renowned actor, came to Bedales and delivered a second acting workshop for all students interested in Drama. She answered many questions from the students about her career delivering full and interesting answers, while also giving us funny anecdotes about being on set. She also showed us some photographs taken on different film sets. I particularly liked the picture of a massive sink in Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind.
Kate was very open and didn’t judge anyone’s questions, creating a warm open atmosphere that was comfortable for everyone.
She talked enthusiastically about her new series Mare of Easttown, set in Pennsylvania, where she plays a grieving detective. She spoke about the intensity of the role and gave us valuable acting tips for filming out of chronological order, which is necessary to avoid time wastage.
We would really like to thank her for the precious time she gave to us, and we hope that she comes again soon.
Kit Mayhook-Walker, 6.1
To assist 6.2 student August Janklow with his student led adaptation of Sam Shepherd’s True West, Kate Winslet kindly agreed to come in to give the cast a workshop on dialect. The two-hour workshop focused on everything from pronunciation, articulation and how accent informs character. She gave each member of the cast a dialect pronunciation sheet which actors use to better understand the sounds common in specific regional accents, southern Californian being the one in question. she also sat in on a scene reading and offered her advice and opinions on vocal characterisation and specific things for each actor to focus on and remember while acting. The workshop was extremely helpful and useful in the development of the play and we are extremely grateful she took the time to come in and assist all involved.
Zeb Murphy, Block 3
I attended a workshop given by Ben Press, an actor who studied in New York. He spoke to us about the Meisner technique. It is an acting method developed by Sanford Meisner, under the influence of Stanislavski, Lee Strasburg and Stella Adler.
The first activity Ben introduced to us was the ‘Repetition Game’, as he called it. Two people had to sit face-to-face, side-to-side, or back-to-back. Then we had to simply follow three instructions; Don’t say anything until something causes you to speak, Don’t try to be interesting, The other person is the most important being in the entire world.
The general idea of the game was quite simple. Whatever the other one says about you, you just repeat but change it to ‘I’ instead of ‘You’. For example, this is a possible round:
Person 1: “You are looking at my feet”
Person 2: “I am looking at your feet”
And so on…
What is noticeable, is that even though we are trying not to act, the tone in which the phrase is said will continually change, and the partner must always react to how you said the phrase. It was incredible and hilarious to watch. It was mind blowing that this simple activity, of not even trying to act, was more enjoyable to watch than half the acting scenes I have seen in theatre.
Ben then made the exercise even more challenging by requesting that one member of the pair, had to be attempting a near impossible task, such as stacking three golf balls on top of one another. The person assigned the task began their challenge, whilst the other person had to walk into the room and do as follows:
· Walk into the room as if it was the most important thing to do
· Say nothing
· Observe what is occurring in the room
· Still say absolutely nothing
· Only speak when something in the room causes you to speak.
The Repetition Game would continue with the same earlier rules. This time, when the moment felt right, you were allowed to break the repeated phrase and change it to something else you needed to express. It was incredible to both watch and perform this challenging activity.
Overall, the workshop taught me that not trying to be interesting when acting can bizarrely be the most interesting thing to do. Good acting is about the way you say something rather than what you say, noticing and reacting is just as important as acting out your rehearsed part. I absolutely adored this workshop and I hope Ben will return to Bedales for another lesson”.
By Jo Mayhook-Walker, Head of EAL and Extended Projects Coordinator
Last week, 18 Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) projects were presented to an audience made up of students and staff. For me, it was an educational and invigorating experience, but how was it for the students? This week, five students who gave presentations share their thoughts.
Nina Jones, 6.1
Last week I presented my EPQ, titled A Thoroughbred’s life, how dangerous is it really? The process of presenting was much more rewarding and less stressful than I had initially thought; I felt that it was an important experience for me in order to build my public speaking skills and conclude my project. Prior to writing my dissertation, I put in a lot of time to research, ensuring that I was confident in the topic. This allowed me to answer the questions with ease. Within my presentation, I talked about my inspiration for my project, how I completed my research, the development, the content, and finally, an evaluation. The evaluation in particular helped me see the strengths and weaknesses of the process and the project itself and taught me valuable skills such as time management and sticking to a word count. I found that the feedback which I received after presenting was very beneficial, and I hope that I can transfer these skills into diverse areas of my academic and work life.
Jamie Loudon, 6.1
For my EPQ I decided to record and write a song. When I started, I was completely new to the process so I had to learn how to do everything. The first thing I had to do was choose a music production software. I did this by looking at reviews of lots of really good music software packages. I ended up picking a software called Ableton and I then learned how to use it using YouTube tutorials. I took what I learned and used it to write a song. I really enjoyed writing a song as I found it rewarding when I had a finished the song to be able to say I made it myself. Hearing people’s opinions of it after was also really nice. I found the presenting experience really fun because I got to show everyone what I had done. I found it fascinating listening to everyone else’s projects as there was a huge variety of topics covered. I was especially interested in the projects related to music, learning about the path their project took in comparison to mine.
Ben Bradberry, 6.1
For my EPQ project, I chose to focus on Singapore and how it achieved its importance in the modern world. I was inspired to do this having lived there for six years and noticing the differences to the UK. I found it frightening to be one of the first to give my presentation, but instantly felt more reassured as I got into the flow of it. I found the other presentations to be extremely interesting to listen to, but also valuable as a learning experience for myself as I could see how other people went about the process in comparison to how I had done so. Overall, it was an extremely worthwhile experience and I strongly encourage anyone considering an EPQ to pursue it.
Gemini Wang, 6.2
In last Wednesday’s EPQ presentation, 6.1 and 6.2 students presented their projects to an audience. In my group, there was a wide range of subjects from horse racing to time traveling. I was the first one to present in our group and although I was quite nervous before the presentation, from the moment I started talking about my project, I felt no stress at all. Talking to people about my interests and research was really enjoyable. At the end of each presentation, there was a chance to ask questions and the audience took this chance very well. They asked me interesting questions which challenged me as the presenter. Overall this presentation was a great opportunity for us all to share our research and listen to other people’s passions. It was also the moment when months of hard work finally paid off and I could see and hear that I had achieved my goals with my project.
Ernie Allesch-Taylor, 6.2
The opportunity to present an EPQ to Bedales staff and students was such a nice event to be a part of. What could have been a nerve-racking experience turned out to be a very good opportunity to share our projects. Despite differing topics, this enabled people from both Sixth Form year groups with ranging interests to showcase their passions. I for one thoroughly enjoyed the inclusive and welcoming atmosphere that everyone in the audience contributed to. Being able to ask in depth questions to my peers and having questions being asked to me about my project was a great way to properly engage with each individual projects. As well as this, being given the opportunity to ask for feedback after the presentations had ended was also a great way to learn how we could improve whilst also receiving positive praise.
The first recorded performance of Shakespeare’s play Othello was on Hallowmas Day, November 1, 1604. James I had been king for just over 18 months and he had very recently overseen the Treaty of London which concluded 19 years of conflict between England and Spain. It was a time of great change, a time of unification and much longed for peace.
On Wednesday, Bedales English Literature A Level students were joined on Microsoft Teams by fellow Bohunt English Literature students to take part in a short lecture programme organised by myself and Deana Buchan, Head of English at Bohunt. We were joined remotely by Dr Kath Diamond, a Renaissance specialist who lectures at Goldsmith’s College and Queen Mary and Westfield, and who delivered a fascinating lecture on ‘Turning in Othello’.
Amongst other things, Kath’s lecture recognises the significance of this period of political and cultural change in Jacobean London and the bearing it has upon the action and motifs to be found within a play which presents a ‘spiralling vortex of change’. The play opens in the turmoil and business of a bustling Venice, centre of trade and commerce and the seat of much public debate and discussion about the ongoing war with the Ottoman Empire in Cyprus. It narrows to the defeat of the Turkish army before narrowing again to the private matters of Othello’s marriage to Desdemona and then ends with yet a further narrowing to the marital bed; site of Desdemona and Othello’s tragic end and loaded with much dramatic symbolism. The play is a play of change and a play of turmoil that leaves both its contemporary and 21st century audience somewhat unsettled (though for different reasons) and yearning for the kind of peace and order that a king like James, Shakespeare’s patron, ought to bring at the start of his reign.
The students then explored the way the masculine and the feminine may be considered in the play through shorter presentations led by myself and Deana; a useful foundation for further classroom discussion. At a time when we can’t take our students to the theatre or to lecture programmes, this was a superb opportunity for both 6.1 and 6.2 to revisit their study of Othello and it ushers in the start of more exciting joint projects between Bohunt and Bedales that Deana and I hope to be able to realise in face to face events next year.
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.
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