Old Bedalian Mila Fernandez inspires students in virtual Dance workshop

Dance-workshop

By Charlotte Land, 6.1

On 4 June, A Level Dance students were fortunate enough to take part in an online workshop run by Old Bedalian Mila Fernandez. Mila studies dance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance in London, The workshop focused on imagery and improvisation, merging the two concepts together to form a piece of dance.

We began the workshop by imagining a beach and its waves and, while working on our breathing, started moving around the space before adding arm gestures. We then proceeded to change the dynamics by making the movement more complex, using differing levels and the whole body. The second part of the workshop also included the use of imagery, but this time it was a piece of clothing. We began by moving only our backs, playing around with how expressive you can be using only your torso. We envisioned our garments and started to create movement for their different parts: colour, texture, how it felt to wear it, etc. It was an interesting approach we haven’t tried before, and it pushed us out of our comfort zones. One 6.1 student felt they had learned how to let loose and allow their body to flow without having to think about what was coming next.

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‘Beautifully nuanced’ A Level Scripted and Devised performances

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By Caitlin Nugent, 6.1

On Tuesday, the 6.2 A Level students performed two pieces across the course of the evening. Firstly, they performed scripted pieces in a naturalistic style, working in groups of two or three to perform short extracts from contemporary plays such as The One by Vicky Jones and After the End by Dennis Kelly.

Each of the extracts was performed in an intensely realistic manner and it was clear that the 6.2s had been working hard to prepare beautifully nuanced pieces. Later on that evening in the Theatre, we watched their devised pieces, which were created in the style of a variety of practitioners, including Grotowski and the Belarus Free Theatre.

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Visiting Thomas Hardy’s Wessex – perspectives

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On Tuesday, 6.2 English Literature students went on a trip to Dorset to visit some of the key sites in Thomas Hardy’s life, to complement their study of Hardy’s 1841 novel, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, as well as some of his poetry.

The group visited Hardy’s Cottage in Higher Bockhampton, where Hardy was born, grew up and wrote his early novels, before going onto Stinsford Church, where Hardy’s heart is buried with his first wife, Emma Lavinia, and walking across the River Frome, across which Angel Clare had carried Tess in Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

The group also visited Max Gate, the atmospheric Victorian home which was famously designed by the author and remained his home until his death in 1928, before hearing from two English Literature PhD students, Laura Cox and Sophie Welsh, about Hardy’s work. Here, some students share their perspectives from the trip.

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Oscar Clark: Sinking into Hardy’s armchair by the fireplace he designed, tiled by ceramics he found, surrounded on three sides by the privacy of a screen that has stood since he sat there and looking at a mirror upcycled by the man himself, I listened to Neill, the National Trust volunteer guiding us through our visit to Max Gate. A scholar on all aspects of Hardy, Neill showed us the humourous, sensitive and at times difficult man, as well as the nuances and foibles of his personality being reflected in the features of the home he designed.

Isabella Doyle: My favourite moment from the trip was seeing Hardy’s Cottage, where he grew up. I learned much information from the guide who showed us around Hardy’s former home. She explained how Hardy’s mother had strongly advised her five children not to marry, and Hardly was the only one who went against her advice – twice.

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Psychology Crime and Deviance Conference

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By Eliza Goodfellow, 6.2 and Psychology Don

Last Tuesday, the Psychology department welcomed Andrew Lewis and Allan Walker, a convicted murderer and fraudster, to talk about their experiences with the UK’s criminal justice system and life with a criminal record as part of our Psychology Crime and Deviance Conference. They were accompanied by a forensic psychologist who has worked with psychopaths. Her role plays a part in the process of assessing whether prisoners will be able to function adequately if integrated back into society, without posing a threat to the public.

The criminal justice system was outlined to us, and we were given a scenario to discuss whether we thought the man involved was guilty of murder. It came as a surprise to us that the murder we were discussing as a group was in fact the lecturer’s trial – it was at that point that he revealed he was a murderer. The majority of students believed that in the scenario described, Andrew was innocent of murder, guilty primarily of grevious bodily harm (GBH) in an act of self-defence.

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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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Recreating ‘The Eve of St Agnes’

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A Level English Literature students were transported back in time on Monday when they took part in a practical exercise designed to reinforce their understanding of one of the course’s key texts – The Eve of St Agnes by John Keats – following the success of last year’s experience day centred around the same poem. 

The Eve of St Agnes, which is set in the Middle Ages, was inspired by the legend that unmarried women could see their future husband in their dreams if they performed certain rituals on 20 January, the evening before the feast of St Agnes.

It follows the young maiden Madeline as she escapes a loud and festive family party to go to her bedroom and perform the rituals, hoping to see her lover Porphyro in her dreams, despite being from opposite sides of two rival families.

Madeline does see Porphyro that evening, but her dreams morph into reality as her lover – having snuck into her room while she was at the party – emerges from his hiding place in the closet and attempts to rouse her by laying out a feast and playing the lute.

To bring them closer to Keats’ poem, 6.2 English students were asked to work in groups across two classes to produce tableaux representative of the poem. They sought the help of the school’s costume department to find appropriate attire and recreated the scenes in various locations – including the Lupton Hall, the sand quarry and All Saints Church in Steep, with some venturing as far as Midhurst.

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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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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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Product Design students visit plastics manufacturer

By Max Lobbenberg, 6.2 and Product Design Don

On 21 November, the 6.2 Product Design class visited Broanmain Ltd, a specialist technical plastics moulder. Broanmain is a family-owned company, which has been operating for over 60 years. They support a wide range of industries from aerospace, electronics and defence to the science sector and consumer goods.

After a presentation on how the injection moulding machines work, Broanmain’s Operations Director, Jo Davis, and Production Manager, Thomas Catinat, showed us around their factory.

Whilst the core of their business is focused on producing injection moulded polymer components, they are one of only 15 companies in the UK to operate specialist thermoset compressive moulding machines. The key difference with these to the usual thermoplastics is that the material is not re-mouldable, and is therefore non-recyclable.

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6.1 biologists hear from leading scientists

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By Mary Shotter, Biology Technician

Biologists in 6.1 travelled to the Apollo Theatre in London to hear a series of lectures by some of the country’s leading scientists as part of A Level Biology Live.

First was 2009 Nobel Prize winner and President of the Royal Society, Professor Sir Venki Ramakrishnan (pictured above), whose many scientific contributions include his work on the atomic structure of ribosomes. Ribosomes exist in their millions in every cell, and are the site where genetic information is read to synthesise proteins from amino acids. He began work on ribosomes in the late 1970s and eventually discovered their complex three-dimensional structure in 2000, with the aid of X-ray crystallography.

Next, Professor Robert Winston – who was the Bedales Eckersley Lecture speaker in 2013 – spoke about manipulating human reproduction, from his work in vitro fertilisation, through to regenerative medicine such as stem cell research and epigenetics, which may turn out to be the most important biological development in the years to come. However, he warned that manipulating the human will always be dangerous, uncertain and unpredictable.

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