Celebrating the Bedales community

On Thursday, students and staff came together for Garrett Day, our Summer term community day named after Amy Garrett Badley, one of the key figures in the founding of the school. Amy was a suffragist and the cousin of Millicent Garrett Fawcett and was, we believe, instrumental in ensuring the school was co-educational when almost no other public schools were. United by the theme of a freedom to learn, we created a day of learning away from conventional classroom structures, giving everyone the opportunity to discover and create something new and to enjoy the freedom and liberty we all have to learn in our school.

Activities included writing and recording (suitably edgy) protest music (and accompanying music videos, which you can watch here), building a Blooklet, creating art with chemical indicators, exploring historical events in poetry, investigating and designing an individual fitness programme, animating Newton’s Three Laws, producing art inspired by the outdoors and even creating a new language.

Students in Kirsten McLintock’s group was joined by visiting author Winnie Mi Li, who came to discuss gender-based violence and feminist activism, in honour of Amy Garrett Badley herself. Students were fascinated by Winnie’s own story which can be viewed in her TED talk here, whilst learning how to create characters and write a collective poem. Winnie’s new book, Complicit, is published this week.

The day culminated in an exhibition in the Library, coordinated by Head of Design Alex McNaughton, which showcased everyone’s creative efforts. The exhibition will also be available to view on Parents’ Day to allow parents to share in the students’ achievements. Thank you to everyone who made the day a success.

See more photos from the day below.

Supporting refugees – we need your help

By Rob Reynolds, Director of External Relations

With many Ukrainian people fleeing the horror and danger caused by the Russian military invasion of their country this week, the Bedales community is coming together to offer practical help to them and other displaced people in two key ways – and we need your support with these:

  • A collection of essential items to deliver to Ukrainians arriving in Poland
  • A day dedicated to supporting refugees next Tuesday in partnership with the Rural Refugee Network

Collection of essential items

We are contributing to a collection being delivered to Ożarów, Poland near the Ukraine border. The following items are particularly needed:

  • Adult clothing, toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, sanitary wear, toilet rolls)
  • Children’s clothing, pants, socks, nappies, toys, baby wipes, talcum powder, dummies 
  • Blankets, towels, sleeping bags, roll mats 
  • First aid supplies such as paracetamol, plasters, bandages

Please drop off donated items to school receptions as soon as possible. Our first collection of goods will be this Sunday, which will enable delivery in the region 24 hours later. We will then arrange further regular collections as necessary. 

Bedales has links with the Ożarów community through our own staff. You can read more about how they are supporting refugees here.

A day of support for refugees – Tuesday 8 March

Bedales holds regular community days when members of the school community work together to make a tangible difference to other people’s lives. It is timely that next Tuesday’s Powell Day is dedicated to the Rural Refugee Network (RRN). The RRN has supported refugees arriving in the UK from Syria, Sudan and Afghanistan, and it is currently calling for the government to offer a safe haven to people from Ukraine, whom they are poised to support. 

Our Powell day comprises:

  • Talk from Gulwali Passarlay about his year long journey from Afghanistan to the UK  
  • Syria to Steep walk in a day – students will walk a 12 km circuit in Queen Elizabeth Country Park with their tutor. Collectively we will cover the 4,000 km distance from Idlib to Steep – there’s still time to support the campaign by donating here.
  • Art Sale – A fundraising sale of artwork from established and emerging artists in the Quad from 6-9 pm. Please come along and buy on the night. Book your free ticket here.

Thank you for your support.

Walking from Syria to Steep to support refugees

By Abi Wharton, Head of Global Perspectives, Geography and Politics

On Tuesday 8 March, the Bedales community will be off timetable for our termly community day – this term being Powell Day. It feels particularly important that we spend this day as a community after the tribulations of recent years – coming together to raise awareness and vital funds for those that continue to need support.

We are very excited to give you more information about our collective initiative to walk, as a school, the distance from Northern Syria to Steep in a single day (roughly 4500km). In tutor and year groups, Bedales students and staff will be walking a 10km route around Queen Elizabeth Country Park to raise sponsorship for the Rural Refugee Network, our charity partner. We are encouraging all tutor groups to raise at least £250 in sponsorship but encouraging some healthy competition by awarding prizes to both the tutor group and year group that raise the most in sponsorship!

Students will be able to give family and friends a URL allowing you to donate directly to their team via Give Penny, our chosen fundraising platform. We really hope you will be able to contribute to this worthwhile cause where both you and the students will be able to see exactly where these vital funds go. We would also be delighted if parents would like to participate on the walk itself.

I am also delighted that Gulwali Passarlay, a dear friend of the school who delivered the Global Awareness Lecture in 2017 will be joining us for the day to speak to the students and join us on the walk. Gulwali’s story is inspiring. It includes a 12-month odyssey across Europe to escape war-torn Afghanistan, arrival in the UK and graduation from one of the UK’s top universities. Gulwali Passarlay is a speaker, activist and former refugee who arrived in Britain in 2007, aged just 12, after being separated from his brother during his travels. His best-selling book, The Lightless Sky, is an account of his lone travels as a child including a 50-hour sea crossing in cramped quarters with more than 100 other refugees. At the time of the lecture, I said: “Gulwali’s resilience, determination and humour is a lesson to us all. He has faced unimaginable hardship and had his childhood taken away. Despite this, he bears no grudges, and has instead dedicated his life to raising awareness and improving the lives of millions of people around the world.” I think this message remains important as we look forward to 8 March – and I have certainly quoted the above when students have been a little reluctant about walking 10km!

Discussions on diversity

By Theo Paul, 6.2

Bedales is, and has always been, a school which believes in equality, diverse thought and inclusion. This was once again epitomised in the dialogue created during Garrett Day. Throughout the day, sessions such as Generational perspectives of race, Anti-racism: how to be an ally, White privilege -White fragility and Unconscious bias: how can we make Bedales more inclusive? enabled Bedalians of all backgrounds, life experiences and year groups to converse and learn about topics that affect everyone’s everyday life through conscious and unconscious bias. Each session offered a unique insight into the challenges people face due to race, gender and class.

Sessions 1 and 2 focused on generational perspectives of race and were run by Lele, Serati and Olivia Jones. Lele, Serati and Olivia gave fascinating insight into the challenges and discrimination people of colour still face to this day. The conversation was centred on the discrimination and racism that Lele, Serati and Olivia have faced, in Lele’s case especially during Apartheid in South Africa, and the racism that continues to plague the UK and the world as a whole. A key point raised was that racism isn’t always obvious. Racism is institutionalised and can be seen through subtle gestures or the tone in which a person is talked to.

Sessions 3 and 4 were held by Old Bedalian Lulu McConville. The sessions on Anti-racism: how to be an ally and White privilege – White fragility were engaging and interactive. This allowed for a great participation from all whom attended the sessions. The session on Anti-racism: how to be an ally included students defining what racism is and how to intervene when a person is being racially abused. In addition, the session on White privilege and White fragility enabled white students to realise their privileges and inherent advantages they have in life due to their skin colour, whilst also seeing the role white fragility plays in upholding white privilege and stopping further education on the topic.

Session 5, led by Jo Mayhook-Walker and Gordon Dale, focused on the severity of unconscious bias and how we can make Bedales more inclusive. The consensus was that the first step in dealing with unconscious bias is being aware of it, as this will help you understand why you are behaving in certain ways towards people. Furthermore, ways in which Bedales could be more inclusive that were discussed ranged from more representation for international boarders to a way of making it possible for more disadvantaged people to come to the school.

The afforementioned sessions on diversity, organised by Abi Wharton, Head of Global Awareness, enabled us to better understand the difficulties people face due to all forms of discrimination. Moreover, it raised much needed awareness and educated students and staff on how, where and why discrimination happens and how to stop it when possible.

Garrett Day celebrations

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.”