Bedales Greenpower team competes at prestigious Goodwood Motor Circuit

By Alex McNaughton, Head of Design

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.

Happy motoring to you all…

Learning the ropes of mountaineering

By Julia Bevan, 6.2 Houseparent and Teacher of English

Before half term, British recreational mountaineer David Potter visited Bedales to demonstrate climbing gear for both rock and mountain climbing to my Block 4 English elective group, who have been studying Mountains of the Mind by Robert McFarlane, The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd and Touching the Void by Joe Simpson.

Meeting in the Sam Banks Pavilion, students gathered in a circle and listened as David – who first climbed in South America and whose love of the natural world has led him into work within climate change – spoke about the kit laid out in front of them. They were fascinated as they held crampons and ice axes and learnt when they might need to use a snow anchor, held karabiners and watched how to clip themselves correctly to a rope.

After David’s visit, students reflected on the experience.

Zeb Jay said: “David does mountaineering because he likes being outside, having an amazing experience with his mates. He eats tinned and packaged food, like on Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) expeditions. He first climbed a mountain after university and it is an amazing life skill, which his family also profits from. Mountaineering is all about risk – if you have a good sense of risk you are guaranteed to be a good mountaineer.”

Orson Farley said: “I learnt that the big reason for mountaineering is getting into the depths and corners of landscapes. You can look at a mountain and maybe even hike up a bit of it, but to really understand it is to mountaineer. I’ve learnt about food and sources of energy. You have to have a high calorie count in order to function.”

Seb Stewart commented: “I learnt that in life great things take time – you can’t just run head first into climbing K2 or Everest, you start small and work your way to greatness with the support of your friends and people you trust. You don’t need to read The Top of the World just to be a successful climber. The kit used by mountaineers is so small and detailed that one may wonder how such a small thing supports such a massive thing – that being your life, and the wellbeing of your family.”

Margot Gwyer: “I learnt that you have to have masses of trust between you and the person you are climbing with. You have to listen to each other and work as a team always.”

Jack Bowdery: “Safety is the main concern in climbing. I learnt how much kit you need to bring and use. Climbing is always a risk.”

Gordon Thistleton-Smith: “I learnt that walking, hiking, climbing and mountaineering are all different levels of the spectrum of being in the environment.” 

Music competition success

By Doug McIlwraith, Director of Music

Two of our hard-working musicians have won through to the final rounds of some prestigious music competitions. Elliot Cundy (Block 3) recently competed in the first round of the Royal Academy of Music’s Junior Department Piano Competition. Elliot performed Chopin’s virtuosic Fantasie Impromptu and was placed in the top three and goes on to compete in the final in a few weeks’ time. This is particularly impressive given that the piano is Elliot’s second instrument after double bass! We wish him every success for the final and our congratulations for his success so far.
 
Block 4 student Shoshana Yugin Power has won through to the final round of the Winchester Concerto Competition with three other competitors. Shoshana (pictured above at the competition) performed on the flute and was the youngest of all the competitors. It is particularly pleasing that she is through to the next round as she was actually successful in 2021 but the final event was cancelled due to the pandemic. Well done to Shoshana for returning and earning her place in the final again.
 
Shoshana also won the Under 14 category in the Petersfield Festival Young Composer Competition with her piece Elemental Elements which she composed for flute and piano. It is a piece inspired by the chemical elements and reflects Shoshana’s fascination with science as well as modern musical techniques. The completion was judged by the composer Jonathan Willcocks who also happens to be a former Director of Music at Bedales. We are glad he had the chance to see that creativity is very much alive at Bedales and well done again to Shoshana for making the most of this opportunity.

‘Curtain raiser’ Dance workshop with Chhaya Collective

By Liz Wood, Head of Dance

Block 3 and 4 Dance students took part in a two-day workshop with choreographer and director of Chhaya Collective, Kay Crook. Kay worked very intensely with the dancers, giving them the experience of what it might feel like to be in a professional dance company and the students rose to the challenge. They were then fortunate enough to perform the piece they had learned and created as part of the curtain raiser for Chhaya Collective’s performance in the Theatre last week. Here are some comments from the students who took part. 

By Phoebe Land, Block 3
This was such an interesting experience because we were introduced to lots of different styles of movement. In the first day we learnt the first phrase, which was choreographed around animals, and this was especially interesting for me, as I haven’t done a lot of proper dances with a storyline. Kay mixed the Block 4s with the Block 3s to create individual duets, with different parts of the music. Kay made sure everyone was happy with the movements and showed us how to execute them to make us look professional. Then on the second day, we learnt the next phrase which was the opening movement. This involved two different hand gestures, which were later used again in the Bharatanatyam by me, Biba, and Annabel. This was so fun, and everyone really enjoyed it! 

By Milly Trench, Block 4
Kay worked very well with us to create the curtain raiser for us to perform. We started off by doing an intense warm up which was a great taster on their style and how we were going to be dancing for the next two days. I thought this was great because it allowed us to warm up how the professional dancers do and experience a higher level of intensity. We were taught the movement but were given sections to work creatively in groups to add to the overall performance. We were also asked to choreograph duets with an animalistic style and a connection with your partner. 

By Biba Hardy, Block 4
Throughout the workshop we were given different creative tasks where we were able to use our own ideas in sections of the dance. One task that we were given was to make a duet – we were put into pairs and each pair was shown a video of other dancers doing a duet to gain inspiration from their piece KHAOS. Each one was slightly different and had different techniques that were used in the duets. None of them were the same, but all of them had some things in common, for example they were all quite animalistic and used a lot of eye contact between the two dancers. Once each pair had watched the dance that their duet would be inspired by, we all had some time to think of new moves and ideas, while also incorporating some of the moves from the sections of the dance that everyone had been taught in unison. Each pair had a section in the dance to perform their duet one at a time, so that everyone’s ideas could be seen.

By Sophie Lee, Block 3
Kay taught us about a side of dance I haven’t come across before. She lived in India for a while, so she taught us some dance moves from Indian culture. The Indian style she focused us on was Bharatanatyam and she taught us the unique hand movements. There were two main phrases she taught us and they were in her own style. She focused in on specific movements, making sure we all were making them very sharp and clean. She split us into two lines and showed us how to effectively be in sync with our line but also mirror the line opposite. By letting us choreograph a duet after a day of working with her, we found that we were all heavily influenced by the new dance moves we were introduced to, and with Kay’s help we made the duets in a different style than we normally would.

New academic year, new Drama productions

By Hayley Cole, Head of Drama

We have started the year with two exciting opportunities for the students and have been auditioning this week for the Whole School Show and the Sixth Form Show. The new Block 3 students were particularly brave and auditioned before they left for Cobnor!

We have started the year with two exciting opportunities for the students and have been auditioning this week for the Whole School Show and the Sixth Form Show. The new Block 3 students were particularly brave and auditioned before they left for Cobnor!

Jessica Asamoa, Drama Scholar and Drama Don, said of her experiences of auditioning for both productions: “On Tuesday evening, many students across the blocks auditioned for the Whole School Show, as well as some of the 6.1s and 6.2s who also auditioned for the Sixth Form Show. Auditioning is always a good experience to have and a fantastic skill to develop because it helps with confidence. It was also great to do an audition in a friendly and welcoming environment: everyone was very respectful and kind to each other so we were all able to present ourselves in the best light that we could. 

In the sixth form audition, we worked on some drama exercises. We were looking at how we can become more aware of those around us. This was very useful and I think most of the sixth formers who auditioned were able to gain more insight into how they focus their attention while performing. 

For the whole school audition, we worked on freeze frames and tableaux in groups. We were given a line of a poem as a stimulus and then had to create our freeze frames/ tableaux inspired by this. It was great to do some choral work and everyone had a lot of fun with it: there was a lot of laughter and smiles.

All in all, I think any audition that ends with people feeling excited, happy and comfortable is a successful one and I am looking forward to seeing how these projects develop.”

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.

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. 

Classics in lockdown

By Christopher Grocock, Teacher of Classics

I am utterly indebted to the cooperation and cheerfulness of the Bedales students who have joined in wholeheartedly as we have kept our classes in Latin (and a bit of Greek) going! When we started in the latest lockdown I wasn’t sure how well we would get on – but we have all coped with the challenges of poor internet and strange work stations in our various homes (mainly by laughing when things go wrong – what else could we do?) Looking back over the past couple of months I am intrigued by the good progress we have made, in all the year groups from Block 3 to 6.2.

What’s made this happen? I can think of a few factors. The fact that Latin and Greek are ‘dead’ languages has helped – we don’t depend on the immediacy which is a key positive part of learning a modern language. There is the fact that in isolation students have had more time (with fewer distractions from other students around them!) to work at their own pace, and had the courage to ask for help whenever they needed it. Above all our progress has been helped by the sheer goodwill of all the students (and sympathetic and supportive parents – thank you!) right across the year-groups.

We have accepted that things would go wrong, technologically; we wait. We have coped with strange differences in time-zones and the issues that brings. We have accepted that working from home is challenging and if for any reason a student can’t find the set text book they used only two days before, we give them time to get it; and if it has been buried under something we find something else to do which usefully helps us make progress. And progress we have… to my delight (and relief, let’s be honest!)

I am looking forward to being back in a classroom and seeing students without strange backgrounds on their screens. It will, I admit, take some adjustments. But there has been more thriving than surviving and I hope that everyone involved – myself included – has come out of the experience with lots of lessons learned about how we learn and how we can motivate ourselves when we are ‘back to normal’, however the new normal looks.

And to close, here’s a challenge to all the Bulletin Readers. This is a passage from our Block 3 workbook, with a quiz at the bottom – put the sentences in the right order.

To help you, I am including Siena’s completed storyboard. Try it for yourselves!

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.

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).