British Museum exhibition brings students closer to Ancient Greek epics

By August Janklow and Gus McQuillin, 6.1

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On 28 February, those of us in the 6.1 Classics class visited the British Museum’s Troy: Myth & Reality exhibition. It was an extraordinarily well curated collection of anything and everything relating to Troy, in order to help us better understand The Iliad by Homer.

The museum had lots of ancient pieces of art and stories relating to Troy. They had lots of vases and other items of treasury dating back roughly 4,000 years. The artefacts came from museums across the world and also reflected that these stories have inspired artists, sculptors, potters, writers and musicians of every century. A highlight was the massive wood-framed Trojan horse that hung over the main room to bring us into the Trojan world.

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Belarus Free Theatre visit

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By Livi Grout-Smith, Oscar Clark and Amber Pearson, 6.2

Last Wednesday morning, we were lucky enough to be visited by Natalia Koliada (Director) and Sophie Robins (Head of Communications) from the world renowned theatre company Belarus Free Theatre (BFT).

Created in Belarus in 2005 as an underground theatre company and having to perform in secret locations so as to protect themselves from prosecution from the Russian and Belarusian governments, BFT’s directors, Nikolai Khalezinm and Natalia Koliada, were forced to move to London to escape further persecution and have since directed their actors in rehearsal via Skype calls between London and Minsk. Having chosen the company as the inspiration for our final 6.2 devised piece, we had never thought we would ever get to meet one of them, let alone have lunch with them, as we did during their visit.

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Weekends at Bedales

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By Tom Batty, 6.1

In between finishing off prep, helping with a refugee charity and hanging out with friends, I built every Lego fan’s dream, The Collector’s Edition Star Wars Millennium Falcon, which was kindly gifted to the students of Boys’ Flat at Christmas.

After my morning lessons on Saturday, I – along with significant help from history teacher and house parent Chris Bott, as well as Block 5 student Teo Sydow Elias – set to work on unboxing and starting the build. We started at 1pm on Saturday and worked until late into the evening, stopping only for dinner.

My help on the project was halted on Sunday morning by an early start for some volunteering work with the Rural Refugee Network, as organised by Al McConville. I and several others helped set up and martial their Walk for Hope, a charity walk that raises money to help support Syrian refugees in the UK. Fellow 6.1 student Eloise Cooper helped man the drinks stall at Elsted Village Hall for another fundraiser, which included raffle tickets, cakes (courtesy of Outdoor Work) and drinks as ways to raise money. There were several touching speeches from founders of the charity and also some of the people who they have helped arrive and settle in the UK.

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New ‘Living with the Land’ course launching September 2020

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By Andrew Martin, Head of Outdoor Work, and Feline Charpentier, Teacher of Outdoor Work

From September 2020, students in 6.1 will be able to choose a new Outdoor Work (ODW) course as one of their sixth form options. ‘Living with the Land’ is a two-year course which will equip students with the practical skills to live lightly off the land, enabling them to look at the wider context for the issues surrounding the environment and our impact upon it. Living with the land around us means having a greater awareness of our environment, living with the seasons, trying to reduce our footprint and applying our new-found knowledge to other aspects of our lives and the community.

It is a natural progression from all aspects covered in the ODW BAC, however it goes into far greater depth and includes significant self-directed work, including a portfolio and a ‘major’ project in the final year. There is currently no clear pathway for a student wishing to take a more practical course at sixth form in environmental subjects. The closest comparable courses are Countryside Management, Food Skills, Sustainability or the planned Natural History GCSE. No courses combine traditional building, cooking and craft skills with aspects of ecology, sustainability and community.

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Poetry and mud studies at Ashford Hangers Nature Reserve

By Lucy McIlwraith, Teacher of English
Photos by Matilda McMorrow, Librarian

In the English department at Bedales, we like to give students the opportunity to venture outside the classroom to gain a deeper understanding of literature. Over the last couple of years, we’ve visited Thomas Hardy’s cottage in Dorset while studying Tess of the D’Urbervilles; hosted a tea party as part of our work on The Importance of Being Earnest; enjoyed a midnight feast of exotic sensory delights to go with John Keats’ poem, The Eve of St Agnes; and held a fireside evening of poetry-by-heart for Block 3’s study of the oldest forms of English literature.

Our latest venture earlier this week gave a 6.1 English Literature class a first-hand experience of writing poetry in finest Hampshire mud. The set are studying Seamus Heaney’s first poetry collection, Death of a Naturalist, which includes lots of descriptions of water, slime and bogs. In order to get under the skin of poems that feature phrases such as ‘bubbles gargled delicately’ and ‘the squelch and slap of soggy peat’, it seemed like a good idea to don wellies (with thanks to Outdoor Work for lending some to white-trainered students) and wallow in the plentiful mud at Ashford Hangers Nature Reserve.

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Senior Maths Challenge success

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By Martin Hanak, Head of Maths

At the beginning of November, 20 students from Block 5, 6.1 and 6.2 volunteered to sit the Senior Maths Challenge.

Around 80,000 from across the UK took part in the competition; 15 Bedalians were awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze certificates, with Aidan Hall, Maggie Luo and Annabelle Snell all winning Gold. They also qualified for the next round, the Senior Kangaroo, which places them amongst the top 10% of all the mathletes that took part in the competition.

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Sixth Form physicists visit the Joint European Torus

By Tobias Hardy, Head of Physics

To fend off the global warming crisis, we need to appeal to the hottest place on earth. The sun’s core is 10 million degrees, but in the Joint European Torus (JET) at Culham, the doughnut-shaped plasma in the reactor consistently reaches temperatures of over 100 million degrees to initiate nuclear fusion between hydrogen isotopes and release enormous quantities of energy. The hydrogen is sourced from seawater, and there are no harmful waste products. What is not to like? Unfortunately, it’s fiendishly difficult to achieve.

The Sixth Form physicists visited JET last week, for an inspiring tour and lectures. The scientists and engineers explained the current developments of this futuristic technology, which has come a long way since its inception in 1983, and has inspired the next generation of fusion reactors, driving the plasma science and fusion research. Ground-breaking and innovative engineering solutions are necessary for the magnetic containment, keeping the super-heated plasma just metres from the surrounding vacuum at almost zero, to harness this potentially limitless resource.

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