Only 43 sleeps to go…!

By Andrew Martin, Head of Outdoor Work

Last week we had another memorable evening in the Bakehouse, making our famous Christmas puddings with our 6.1 Living with the Land students and their guests. It’s always a shock to hear Christmas music so early in the year, but the big day is only 43 days away!

There was stirring, singing, chatting, zesting and lots of Christmas cheer as we spent the evening making 115 puddings, kindly steamed the next day by the wonderful Matt Potts and his catering team.

Pardon the pun, but these puddings usually sell like hot cakes, so if you’d like to get one, make your way over to our farm shop beside the Bakehouse as soon as possible where they’re ready and ribboned up for Christmas.

As I’m sure most of you are aware, Outdoor Work is run as a cottage industry as well as a department within the school. This unique position allows us to offer you a selection of homemade goods, most of which have been made by students, whenever possible using produce grown here.

This year, you’ll find preserves and honey, as well as sheepskins from our own Jacob flock, each one boasting its own unique, distinctive pattern. We also have a new range of shawls, scarves and blankets from our Jacob fleece, all woven for us at Melin Teifi in Wales. These make brilliant Christmas gifts; allowing the recipient to take a bit of Bedales with them, wherever they go.

All profits are ploughed back into Outdoor Work, so please take a good look; staff, students and animals greatly appreciate your support. A very merry, very premature Christmas from all of us in Outdoor Work!

Reflections on the Sixth Form Show

By Hayley Cole, Head of Drama

Recently I overheard some students giving a guided tour explaining, in student terms, the way our school works – how first name terms creates mutual respect, and performing in the theatre, where professional companies also perform, means they feel almost professional. To me, that summarises exactly what the Sixth Form Show is all about and why we employ external directors to create a company for the students, giving them a taste of the time frames and high expectations of the professional world.

Old Bedalian Evangeline Cullingworth was the ideal choice for this year’s Sixth Form Show. She was so excited to work with and direct our students once again, and having read her choice of play over the holidays – Image of an Unknown Young Woman by Elinor Cook – we were incredibly excited to see how she would realise it. Her professionalism and directorial skillset made this such an enriching opportunity for the students, and her personality and the experience she has of teaching and delivering workshops at Bedales meant she nurtured individuals and the cast flourished under her.

Personally, I loved coming to see the play as an audience member, having not been part of the auditions or rehearsals, and seeing the spectacular end result whilst also appreciating the journey the students had been on and how much they had developed over the course of the rehearsals. The staging was original and the yellow dresses and accessories heightened the relevance of images and the power of social media in politics. The contextless plot made us all draw comparisons in our own minds and wonder how influenced we are or how much we actually know about causes we support and say we believe in. The chorus cleverly involved us and judged us as an audience and the characterisation was both truthful and shocking at points.

Students involved in the production reflect on their experience below:

Jessica Asamoa, 6.2 Drama Scholar: “It was a wonderful experience to work with Evangeline and my fellow sixth form students. The play was one that really made us all think and reflect on current political movements.”

Rowena le Poer Trench, 6.1 Drama Scholar: “I found the experience of working with Evangeline so interesting, as she really helped me personally develop my understanding of characterisation through thorough techniques of breaking down my scenes. In this way, the rehearsals for the play were like mini workshops each week where I learnt so much that I can use in future projects.”

Cerys Jones, 6.1 Drama Scholar: “The Sixth Form Show was a great experience for any student, be those whom acted in it, assisted backstage or front of house or even those watching. The opportunity to learn new skills and develop, not just as a performer, but also as a person was abundant. A professional and safe, creative working environment was nurtured, helping the cast bond, and allowing for effective character and plot development in rehearsals. The production had the feel of a professional company, with collaboration heartedly encouraged, cultured by the amazing Evangeline, whose personal Bedales experiences combined with her wealth of theatre knowledge made her the ideal director. I’m very glad to have taken part in the show, making new friends, learning new skills and producing a fantastic play.”

Stella Miller, 6.1 Drama Scholar: “I was grateful to have been given the opportunity to work with OB Evangeline Cullingworth for the Sixth Form Show. A small and intimate group of 11 of us and a brilliant crew worked closely for just over a month to pull together our adaptation of Image of an Unknown Young Woman by Elinor Cook. It was a riveting and insightful experience, and one I shall never forget. From the costumes to the blocking, everything was systematically thought through and discussed, with each and every cast member having an input. It was particularly fun to compose a series of teaser images and posters to display around the school. The whole experience felt so professional, as though it were a West End piece of academic theatre; it was worth all the ‘all in’ weekends! A huge thank you to Evangeline and Joanne for orchestrating a show that was enjoyed by both the audience and the performers and really captured and projected the true essence of the arts at Bedales.”

New Academic Dons announced

By Clare Jarmy, Acting Deputy Head (Academic)

Congratulations to this year’s Academic Dons, who were announced last week.

Dons are student leaders, associated with academic departments and other important areas of the school, such as the Library and Theatre. As student spokespeople for a department, Dons represent the student body’s views to the relevant Head of Department, as well as offer subject specific help and advice to younger students at the senior school.

It is a genuine delight for us to see so many students showing such energy and enthusiasm for the different areas of school life, and we thank them in advance for the work they will do with teachers in supporting the academic life of the school.

The full list of this year’s Dons is as follows:

  • Art – Georgie De Boulay
  • Biology – Nina Jones
  • Business Studies – Maria Timokhina
  • Chemistry – Isabella McGrath
  • Classics – Annie Lawes
  • Dance – Mathilda Douglas
  • Design (Product) – Oskar De Aragues
  • Digital Game Design/Maths – Raef McNaughten
  • Drama – Jessica Asamoa
  • Economics – Harry Hornsby
  • English – Maya Muller
  • Fashion Design – Phoebs Esdaile
  • French – Alisia Leach
  • Geography – Fleur Donovan
  • Global Awareness – Sacha Weisz Brassay
  • History – Taragh Melwani
  • Library – Anton Lucas
  • Maths – Annabelle Snell
  • Music – Tiger Braun-White
  • Music (Contemporary) – Monty Bland
  • Outdoor Work – Lila Levingston
  • Photography – Poppy Kingsley-Pallant
  • Physics – Hux Green
  • Politics – Thomas Figgins
  • Philosophy, Religion and Ethics – Amos Wollen
  • Psychology – Lily Brough
  • Round Square – Amelia Smith, Ben Bradberry, Nina Solovieva
  • Spanish – Anna Sukhikh
  • Sport – Shanklin MacKillop-Hall
  • Theatre (Crew and Wardrobe) – Caelan Edward and Aria Taheri Murphy
  • 3i – Zakhar Gabriadze

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.”

Students reflect on presenting their EPQs

By Jo Mayhook-Walker, Head of EAL and Extended Projects Coordinator

Last week, 18 Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) projects were presented to an audience made up of students and staff. For me, it was an educational and invigorating experience, but how was it for the students? This week, five students who gave presentations share their thoughts.

Nina Jones, 6.1

Last week I presented my EPQ, titled A Thoroughbred’s life, how dangerous is it really? The process of presenting was much more rewarding and less stressful than I had initially thought; I felt that it was an important experience for me in order to build my public speaking skills and conclude my project. Prior to writing my dissertation, I put in a lot of time to research, ensuring that I was confident in the topic. This allowed me to answer the questions with ease. Within my presentation, I talked about my inspiration for my project, how I completed my research, the development, the content, and finally, an evaluation. The evaluation in particular helped me see the strengths and weaknesses of the process and the project itself and taught me valuable skills such as time management and sticking to a word count. I found that the feedback which I received after presenting was very beneficial, and I hope that I can transfer these skills into diverse areas of my academic and work life.  

Jamie Loudon, 6.1

For my EPQ I decided to record and write a song. When I started, I was completely new to the process so I had to learn how to do everything. The first thing I had to do was choose a music production software. I did this by looking at reviews of lots of really good music software packages. I ended up picking a software called Ableton and I then learned how to use it using YouTube tutorials. I took what I learned and used it to write a song. I really enjoyed writing a song as I found it rewarding when I had a finished the song to be able to say I made it myself. Hearing people’s opinions of it after was also really nice. I found the presenting experience really fun because I got to show everyone what I had done. I found it fascinating listening to everyone else’s projects as there was a huge variety of topics covered. I was especially interested in the projects related to music, learning about the path their project took in comparison to mine.

Ben Bradberry, 6.1

For my EPQ project, I chose to focus on Singapore and how it achieved its importance in the modern world. I was inspired to do this having lived there for six years and noticing the differences to the UK. I found it frightening to be one of the first to give my presentation, but instantly felt more reassured as I got into the flow of it. I found the other presentations to be extremely interesting to listen to, but also valuable as a learning experience for myself as I could see how other people went about the process in comparison to how I had done so. Overall, it was an extremely worthwhile experience and I strongly encourage anyone considering an EPQ to pursue it.

Gemini Wang, 6.2

In last Wednesday’s EPQ presentation, 6.1 and 6.2 students presented their projects to an audience. In my group, there was a wide range of subjects from horse racing to time traveling. I was the first one to present in our group and although I was quite nervous before the presentation, from the moment I started talking about my project, I felt no stress at all. Talking to people about my interests and research was really enjoyable. At the end of each presentation, there was a chance to ask questions and the audience took this chance very well. They asked me interesting questions which challenged me as the presenter. Overall this presentation was a great opportunity for us all to share our research and listen to other people’s passions. It was also the moment when months of hard work finally paid off and I could see and hear that I had achieved my goals with my project.

Ernie Allesch-Taylor, 6.2

The opportunity to present an EPQ to Bedales staff and students was such a nice event to be a part of. What could have been a nerve-racking experience turned out to be a very good opportunity to share our projects. Despite differing topics, this enabled people from both Sixth Form year groups with ranging interests to showcase their passions. I for one thoroughly enjoyed the inclusive and welcoming atmosphere that everyone in the audience contributed to. Being able to ask in depth questions to my peers and having questions being asked to me about my project was a great way to properly engage with each individual projects. As well as this, being given the opportunity to ask for feedback after the presentations had ended was also a great way to learn how we could improve whilst also receiving positive praise.

‘Engaging’ Sixth Form Extended Projects

By Gordon Dale, Head of Sixth Form

Once again Bedales Sixth Form students have impressed us with their Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) submissions. These project topics are selected by the students based on their passions and interests, with the final submission being either a 5000-word dissertation or an artefact.

On Wednesday, we were treated to a smorgasboard of material presented with enthusiasm, humour and impressive depth of knowledge. Topics included the production of movie and play scripts, and music, where the students wrote and recorded original scores. Architecture was represented, as was art and fashion. Equally impressive were submissions covering economics, sustainability, social issues, animal welfare, genetics, time travel, historical figures and artificial intelligence; all engaged, educated and entertained the audience.

The students who have presented their EPQ this year, and their project titles, are listed below:

  • Ruben Alexander – The Middle Eastern Museum of Problem Solving and Beauty
  • Ernie Allesch-Taylor – To make a short film
  • Emilia Bansdale-Ward – Female Roles in Celtic Britain, with Specific Reference to Cartimandua and Boudicca
  • Ben Bradberry – What are the major factors that lead to Singapore being a dominant force in the Asia-Pacific Region?
  • Hugo Burnett-Armstrong – How did the media affect the Rise and Fall of Pablo Escobar?
  • Iris Campbell-Lange – 1, 2 A Play
  • Zazie Cazac – How can the fashion industry become more sustainable? (Group project)
  • Eloise Cooper – What is the difference between a religion and a cult?
  • Oskar de Aragues – How and why does architecture incorporate nature?
  • Monty de la Guerra – The History of the Circus
  • Freya Hannan-Mills – Creation of a Screenplay and a Website
  • Alice Hockey – Time Travel
  • Nina Jones – A Racehorse’s Life: how dangerous is it really?
  • Jamie Loudon – Writing and recording a song
  • Holly Marsden – How can the fashion industry become more sustainable? (Group project)
  • Molly Montagu – To design and build a sustainable treehouse
  • Isabella Montero – To write and record an EP
  • Anne Novak – Genes and Genomics
  • Roo Trim – Writing and recording an EP
  • Maddy Upton – To what extent is Bedales doing all that it can to reduce the environmental impact of their food waste?
  • Grace Vernor-Miles – The effects and dangers of different drugs on the teenager
  • Gemini Wang – To what extent should AI have rights?

EPQ presentations go digital

By Jo Mayhook-Walker, Head of EAL and Extended Projects Coordinator

COVID has encouraged a huge reliance on technology both in school and in the wider world. Last Wednesday afternoon saw a small and select audience settle down in front of their computers to form the audience for two Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) presentations given over Teams by Isabella Montero and Eloise Cooper, both 6.2 students.

As the new Extended Projects Coordinator, I felt incredibly privileged to be part of the audience.  Previously, projects have been presented in the Library, giving students, staff and parents an opportunity to wander from stand to stand, dipping in and out of a smorgasbord of projects and being able to question each student about the inspiration behind their projects, the challenges they encountered and what they had learnt. The current situation, however, has meant that we have had to rethink. 

All the way from Barcelona, Isabella (pictured above in last year’s Rock Show) presented her project, her EP entitled A White Picket Dream. She gave us an insight into her musical inspirations and how her experience of living in different parts of the USA, as well as being an American living and being schooled outside the US, has coloured her musical journey. 

In contrast, Eloise, from her dorm in 6.2, presented her project: Is there a Difference between a Cult and a Religion? She explained why this was a topic that had appealed to her, presented the issue of bias when conducting her research and explored how her own personal relationship to religion had coloured her choice of topic and approach.

Both presentations were insightful, confidently given and complimentary to each other.  We, as the audience, were given a unique opportunity to focus entirely on each individual project with a chance to question the students at the end of their presentation.  Although a very different experience to the Expo of old, the use of this new technology allowed us a more concentrated and intimate glimpse into the story behind the project.

A changing approach for Further Maths

By James Welham, Head of Maths

With around 90,000 students in the UK opting for A Level Maths, and around 15,000 of those opting for Further Maths, Maths remains a popular choice, both at Bedales and in the UK, and highly regarded by universities.
 
Up to now we have taught Further Maths distinctly from Maths: different classes ensuring that those opting for further mathematics were taught separately. In 6.1, Further Maths students completed the Maths A Level, waiting until 6.2 to start – and complete within the year – the Further Maths A Level. Whilst this approach has many merits, it also has some negative impacts on both groups of students.
 
I am deeply conscious of the challenges that the current Block 5 students have faced.  Two periods of national lockdown and the uncertainty of grades this summer has meant that students starting their studies in September will do so from a very different point than might have done under normal teaching conditions.  With that in mind, giving students the best possible chance to succeed with maths has never been more important.  Therefore we are going to change the way we teach Further Maths next year.

Students opting for Maths and Further Maths in September will learn both A Levels in parallel. In 6.1, students will start both the Maths and Further Maths A Levels, taking the full two years to complete both courses.  They will learn mathematics alongside single maths students, mixing with their peers and importantly taking time to revise and build upon their work at IGCSE.  In Further Maths classes they will study Core 1, the first of the two compulsory modules, and be introduced to topics such as Complex numbers and Matrices.  They will also study Decision Mathematics, a new area of mathematics for many and one with applications to computer science.  Studying these two modules in 6.1 offer an early opportunity for pupils to be introduced to some interesting and challenging ideas whilst exploring new areas of maths.  In 6.2, students will complete their study of Maths and study two more modules, so completing Further Maths.

For those students whom this will affect, I hope that this explanation will bring both clarity and a sense of excitement about what next year might hold.

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.

New course update: Living with the Land

By Andrew Martin, Head of Outdoor Work

Living with the Land is our new Sixth Form course, which was written by Feline and me, and introduced to the curriculum this year. The course aims to equip students with the necessary practical skills to live lightly off the land, and enable them to look at the issues surrounding the environment and our impact upon it. It is a natural progression from our Outdoor Work Bedales Assessed Course (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.

Living with the Land around us means having a greater awareness of our environment, living in rhythm with the seasons, trying to reduce our footprint and applying our new-found knowledge to other aspects of our lives and our community. This term we have been focusing on getting students to really think about their immediate surroundings. We have encouraged them to take a step back and take time to really consider the impact we are having on the natural environment. 

So far this term students have spent time looking at and observing our beautiful estate. This has meant a lot of walking and talking, as well as just sitting in a field, letting our senses tell us more about the land around us. We have been looking at permaculture and how its principles might be applied to ourselves, our community and beyond. We have built wattle and daub walls and started looking at natural building and how empowering and beautiful it is. Bread baking, foraging, making hedgerow preserves and site surveying are just some of the topics we have already touched upon over the past three weeks on this exciting and enriching course.