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.

Intrepid Bedalians complete Bronze DofE Expedition 

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English and DofE Manager

Last weekend, the team from the approved activity provider Ridgeline Adventures returned to run a two-day Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Bronze Expedition from Bedales to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park.
 
On Saturday morning, 33 Block 3 students walked out of Bedales in five groups for the first leg of the expedition to Duncombe Farm, East Meon. Each group, supported by an assessor from Ridgeline Adventures, had planned a different route to East Meon, which is around 2.5 hours from Bedales in a straight-line distance.
 
Although each of the groups were required to pass the Seven Stars pub on the A272 as part of their journey, the different routes they followed varied their experiences, as one group – who found themselves lost en route, and were forced to backtrack to get back on course – can testify! There were other challenges, too, such as loose soles on one student’s walking boots, which she successfully repaired after improvising with some duct tape. With the first group arriving at Duncombe Farm at 3.30pm, and the last group arriving at 6.30pm, the first day proved that you don’t always need to travel far for an adventure.
 
After camping overnight in East Meon, early morning birdsong at 3.30am provided an unwelcome wake-up call on day two. However, despite the birds’ morning chorus, the start of the day was deferred until 5.30am, when one student decided it was time to start dismantling his tent ready for the second part of his journey – much to the exasperation of his campmates!
 
Once everyone was up for the day, the students continued onward on their expedition to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, ploughing their energy into scaling Butser Hill from the North side. On reaching the top, groups were met by assessors for a debrief, before they triumphantly walked down to meet the school minibuses and parents in the Visitor Centre car park. “How long will it take us to get back to school?” a student asked me as we reached our destination, to which I replied it would take around 10 minutes. “We’ve only travelled 10 minutes?!” was his bewildered response.
 
Thank you to everyone who made the weekend a success – the enthusiastic Block 3 students, the exceptional team from Ridgeline Adventures, and accompanying Bedales staff Gordon Dale, Clive Burch and Paul Beauchamp. This weekend it is the turn of Block 4 & 5 students as they complete their Silver Practice Expedition, also with Ridgeline Adventures.

Preparing for expedition

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English and DofE Manager

Last weekend we were joined by Isaac Walker and his team from outdoor education provider Ridgeline Adventures, who ran a successful Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) training weekend in the sunshine for Bedales students undertaking their Bronze Award.
 
On Saturday, students took part in a range of team building activities at the Sam Banks Pavilion. Gordon Dale, Clive Burch, Paul Beauchamp and I were there to see Ridgeline lead the various sections, which saw the students put up tents in a fairly strong breeze, cooked lunch on Trangias, washed up (a skill that always needs perfecting!), discussed first aid scenarios, learnt to tie slings, planned the routes they will use on their Bronze qualifying weekend in three weeks’ time and learnt how to read maps of the local Hampshire countryside.
 
On Sunday, the students headed out for a walk in Steep Nature Reserve in five groups of five or six. An opportunity to explore the school’s picturesque surroundings (“I didn’t expect it to be so pretty,” were one student’s words; another said it was simply “stunning”), the day was also insightful. Students quickly learnt the importance of rucksacks rather than shoulder bags, and they stopped en route to explore first aid scenarios and navigate carefully. Group 4 particularly enjoyed meeting Magnus’ dogs on the Hangers!
 
The Block 3 students who took part in the weekend were attentive and enthusiastic throughout, and there were many memorable moments: Otto Scarlett’s delicious, and enormously popular pancakes; Dominic Rowell looking a little like a mummy as he wandered around covered in bandages after a fun first aid session; and Tilly Wall spontaneously commenting that their group leader from Ridgeline Adventures, Neil, was incredible and thanking him for a great day’s walk.
 
Thank you to everyone who made the weekend a success and I look forward to accompanying the students on an expedition very soon.

Getting creative for DofE Award

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English and DofE Manager

Despite the challenges they have faced due to COVID related restrictions, Bedalians have continued to impress with their efforts in completing the various sections of the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award.
 
For the Volunteering section of the Bronze Award, Block 3 student Florence Pohlschmidt helped out at her mother’s art school in London, tidying and reorganising the studio sculpture, etching and drawing rooms. Florence also volunteered at her former primary school, Heathbrook, in their wildlife garden, clearing, cleaning and reorganising the school’s greenhouse.
 
Inspired by a Wandsworth primary school who contacted her mother’s art school about the possibility of its students painting a rainbow mural to raise the pupils’ spirits after lockdown, Florence took the initiative to ask Heathbrook’s headteacher, Mr Ben Roberts, if she could continue to volunteer at the school by painting a large mural.
 
After Heathbrook gave her permission to paint a mural on the wall of an area known as ‘The Shed’, Florence decided – with the support of her art teacher – to produce a rainbow design in a nod to keyworkers, based on the work of artists Wassily Kandinsky and Sonia Delaunay.

The mural itself covers four 2.5 x 2.5 metre wall panels, which were prepared with two primers and a light blue base colour, before Florence scaled up her drawing and cut out templates for each section, drawing it on the wall in charcoal ready for painting. The process was supported by volunteers from Longbrook’s PTA.
 
Florence said: “I was so pleased to be able to offer to do this as part of my DofE Award, as it was also a way I could say thank you for everything my primary school has done for me. The final mural looks fantastic and I learnt so much from the project.”

Volunteering for DofE

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English and DofE Manager

While we are in lockdown, it is trickier than usual for students to complete the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award, but I am pleased to see that so many of them remain committed to completing the various sections of the programme despite the circumstances we find ourselves in.

For the Volunteering section of the Bronze Award, Block 3 student Mo Griffiths wrote to West Wittering Estate to request permission to do some litter picking on West Wittering beach. They were very happy for Mo to litter pick at the beach and, as well as giving Mo a quick safety briefing before he set off, offered to lend him a litter picker. Mo wore gloves for the activity and chose to focus on picking up small pieces of plastic which don’t decompose and can stick around indefinitely, causing problems for marine ecosystems.

I look forward to seeing more students’ contributions to their DofE Award in the coming weeks.

Impressive efforts as DofE participants prepare for expeditions

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English and DofE Manager

Bedales students have been busy working towards their Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Awards in preparation for the expeditions due to take place in Spring 2021.
 
There are four main sections of a DofE programme: Volunteering, Physical, Skills and Expedition. Bedales students who wish to take part in the expeditions have been asked to complete two sections, provide supporting evidence (an Assessor’s Report is the very minimum needed to pass a section) and for this to be signed off the scheme’s portal, eDofE, by the end of January 2021.
 
Although it is still only November, there has been a fantastic effort from students already. Well done to Kamaya Nelson-Clayton (Block 5), who has been working very hard to complete her Silver Award, volunteering at a youth centre near her home in South London; Issy Robinson (Block 4), who has completed her Bronze Award; Katie Mansbridge (Block 5), who completed lots of hill-walking in the Lakes and on the South Downs during lockdown; Georgie Du Boulay (6.1), who has completed her Silver Award, cycling the South Downs Way and running a social media page for Extinction Rebellion’s Winchester branch as part of her service; and Kit Mayhook-Walker (6.1), completed Couch to 5k during lockdown to go towards his Silver Award.
 
It is tougher than usual for students to volunteer at the moment, but I have been really impressed at the initiative students have been taking to complete this section of their awards. Taragh Melwani and Sacha Weisz Brassay (both 6.1) arranged to volunteer in Bedales’ Outdoor Work department, Thomas Figgins (6.1) volunteers locally at the Petersfield Community Garden, and a number of Block 3 students have been litter-picking.
 
The practice expeditions in Spring are a highlight of the school calendar. Letters with full details of each expedition were sent out to parents of students who have signed up for DofE last week. If your child would like to take part, please let me know as soon as possible, and do encourage them to complete two sections of their award – as a starting point, they may well have completed their Physical section during lockdown, and just need to write it up – and take the next steps to organise an Assessor’s Report, which should be completed by a non-family member.
 
From now until Christmas, I will be available to help if students need any guidance or assistance to complete their sections, and I am looking forward to hearing more about what students did during lockdown. Students can find me in the English Office or teaching in the Orchard Building. If they would like to drop-in at a specific time, I will be available during Badley Time on Mondays, or they can reach me by email at jbevan@bedales.org.uk.

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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