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).

Professional Guidance at Bedales – Autumn update

By Cheryl Osborne, Teacher of Biology and Careers Advisor

This term has been a busy one for the Professional Guidance department. Firstly, students from Blocks 3 to 6.1 have signed up to the online Unifrog platform. Unifog describes itself as “a one-stop-shop where students can easily explore their interests, then find and successfully apply for their next best step after school”. Students in these year groups are receiving support from their tutors to access the platform and complete tasks, such as recording their activities and hobbies, during Tutor Time. As well as this, Block 4 receive half a term of careers sessions with me during Badley Time, during which they have used Unifrog to investigate their wider interests and personality traits, search careers that match their strengths, start recording their employability skills/competencies, look at CVs and learn about apprenticeships and how to find one.

At the beginning of term, Block 5 completed their MyFutureCareers assessments and interviews to aid them with their A Level choices. I followed up on this later in the term, offering students support sessions on Wednesday afternoons. Students in 6.1 have been shown how to use Unifrog to search for degree courses, alongside advice about what they need to be doing over the coming year to prepare themselves for life after Bedales.

Many 6.2 students have been completing university applications, working closely with both their students and Head of Professional Guidance Vikki Alderson-Smart. Students have already started receiving offers and a number have had online interviews for courses that require them. Sarah Oakley has been supporting overseas applicatons and the Art, Design, Music and Drama departments have been working hard helping students with conservatoire and foundation applications.

Work with each year group will continue next term. Vikki will start interviewing all 6.1 students to find out what their post-Bedales thoughts are. These discussions will be on-going with their tutors.

Whilst we would hope that 6.1s will be able to visit universities next year, we will also be advertising virtual events. Two such events are the UK University & Apprenticeship Search Virtual Fair on 27 January, featuring a vast array of exhibitors and ten vital webinars (students and parents can find out more and sign up here) and a Meet the Russell Group virtual event on 10 February. This event will feature all 24 universities and essential webinars for students considering applications to these institutions (students and parents can find out more and sign up here).

We wish you all a restful Christmas.

Match report: Block 3 vs Block 4 girls’ hockey

By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey

Wednesday was the first competitive hockey fixture of the season with the Block 3 side (pictured above) taking on Block 4. Both sides had started to show some good improvement during their training sessions, so this game arrived at a perfect time and the girls did not disappoint.
 
A competitive game in the best sense of the word saw both teams play with attacking intent and impressive levels of intensity, but ultimately it was the Block 4s’ ability to retain more possession and a better understanding of their team structure that saw them home as deserved winners. However, a re-match is in the pipeline, and with more exposure to the 11-a-side version of the game, it is likely that the Block 3s will pose an increasing level of challenge.

Competitive sport makes a comeback at Bedales

Block 5 v Block 4 football

By Spencer Leach, Director of Sport

With the necessary precautions in place, the first tentative steps were taken to get some competitive sport up and running this week, starting with a hugely enjoyable Block 5 v Block 4 football match. Cheered on by a small number of good humoured spectators, the more direct style of play of Block 4 looked like it might create an early breakthrough, but they were denied by some fine goalkeeping and dogged defending. As the match progressed, the more posession based style of Block 5 became more dominant, and with some fine team play and a few longer range efforts, they gained a deserved lead. The best moments of the matches both involved Danilo supplying two pinpoint crosses to Connor to finish confidently from close range. Huge credit to Block 4 for their determination throughout the match.

The Block 4 v Block 3 football match also proved to be quite a showstopper. A large crowd including cheerleaders were witness to a number of high quality goals and some very slick and accurate passing, particularly from the Block 3s. The older students ultimately ran out comfortable winners but I think they would be the first to agree that Block 3 have some exciting talent and the potential to be a very potent force.

Block 5 v Sixth Form basketball was up next. The key question was how big a factor was the small bench of the Sixth Form was going to affect their ability to compete through all four quarters against the considerable depth of talent available to Block 5. The answer was pretty well, but Block 5 proved to be a defensively more organised unit and far more able to execute an effective fast break. The Sixth Form countered this by dominating the boards and winning the ‘inside game’. Ultimately, the Block 5 style and larger bench was victorious but the Sixth Form will feel confident in the rematch when they are bolstered by the return of some key absentees.

UKMT Intermediate Maths Challenge success

Maths

By Martin Hanak, Head of Maths

Every year around 200,000 students from the UK take part in the UKMT Intermediate Maths Challenge and the top-scoring 40% of participants are awarded Bronze, Silver and Gold certificates in the ratio 3:2:1. This year, 72 Bedalians were among the participants. Congratulations to the students who were awarded certificates, listed below:

Block 3: 7 bronze and 3 silver certificates

Bronze: Candice Kamal, Joe Cullen, Rafael Legorburu, John Hall, Katharine Cecil, Meiya Feng, Reuben Stannah

Silver: Archie Holmes, Dylan Hui, Izzy Land

Block 4: 13 bronze and 5 silver certificates

Bronze: Daisy Taylor, Mike Wei, Ben Greening, Connor O’Donoghue, Nate Shuster, Beatrice Lingham, Pim Rippinger, Anna Anikieva, Arlo Martin, Jac Wheeler, John Wentworth-Stanley, Teo Sydow-Elias, Rowena le Poer Trench

Silver: Renee Luo, Benjamin Tsang, Gabriella Stephenson, Chubbs Bailey, Coco Witheridge

Block 5: 3 silver and 2 gold certficates
Silver: Zakhar Gabriadze, Adam Forsyth, Raef Macnaghten

Gold: Annabelle Snell, LJ Phelan Continue reading

English students exercise persuasion skills in homework debate

By Lucy McIlwraith, Teacher of English

This week, my Block 4 English set were given the chance to debate a subject close to the heart of every member of the school community: homework.

Having learnt about persuasive devices and studied speeches from speakers as diverse as Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg this half term, students have made their own speeches to their class on a wide and eye-opening range of topics. Kipp Bryan had researched fast fashion and advised us all to buy more from vintage clothes shops; Theo argued for a ‘back to basics’ approach to paying footballers; Stella Miller gave an illuminating account of what it has been like to be without a smart phone for the last month and how liberating it has been; and Masha Kulakova argued for more languages to be taught to primary school children. Having practised their skills as solo performers, the class moved on to a more tricky way to persuade an audience: team debates.

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Silver DofE practice walk – perspectives

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Last weekend, 56 Block 4 students took a walk in the countryside surrounding Bedales, initially guided by seven experienced members of the school’s Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) team. Here we share accounts of the trip from three students and one member of staff.

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English

This was the first extended, practical opportunity for students to put into practice the basic navigation, pacing and map reading skills we’ve explored in our after-school sessions, and it also gave the students a chance to experience first-hand the importance of route cards, try out their kit and work as a team.

On Saturday morning, it looked as though we were going to get very wet in the afternoon, but in fact it was heavy wind and the onset of darkness that we had to contend with over Shoulder of Mutton in the nearby Ashford Hangers. The important business of putting participants into groups, and then reassembling the groups so that everyone was walking with at least one close friend, took some time. Once this was sorted, groups set off with a large rucksack containing emergency kit such as a high-vis jacket, head torch and tent, which they were instructed to take it in turns to carry.

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Hands-on week in Classics

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It’s been a hands-on week in Classics classes this week. Block 4 students have been putting the finishing touches to their miniature triumphal arch (pictured above), which they made last week from the same sand and cement mix that was made to use the Pantheon and Colosseum in Rome. The class has been studying major monuments – from Stonehenge to the Romans – and this was an opportunity to try their hand at the Roman technique of making a mould and filling it. It seemed a fitting way of wrapping up this module of study before they produce their extended essays.

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