Grit, talent, tuition, application = Success!

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools

Congratulations to  PPE student, Juliette Perry (Dunhurst and Bedales, 2008-15): she has been selected to row for Oxford University against Cambridge in the Women’s Boat Race on 24 March.  See here for the details of the crew and here for an article on the admirable diversity project that the two universities are championing.  An interesting footnote here is that, unlike (I surmise) most of the other women in these two eights, Juliette did not row here at Bedales: she has gone from a standing start to this amazing achievement with extraordinary speed, clearly with a good basis for natural athleticism, and has developed her craft as a rower so quickly and so well.

Trial Eights-19 Juliette Perry credit Simon Perry

Juliette Perry (seated 7). Photo credit: Simon Perry

Here is another example in a different discipline, coincidentally also at Somerville College, Oxford. Disproving the orthodox view that musicians must start when tiny, Josh Grubb (Bedales 2010-14)  started playing the clarinet aged 14 when he started at Bedales in Block 4.  Now in his third year  reading Biochemistry at Oxford, he has played with the University Orchestra, Wind Orchestra, Sinfonietta, Ripieno Players and Consortium Novum. During his time at Somerville, Josh also formed the Woodstock Quintet, which has performed clarinet quintet repertoire throughout Oxford.  Again, it was the magic formula above that enabled his success, with Keir Rowe as his clarinet inspirational teacher.

Aside from the main thing, which is the intrinsic merit in the activity itself (rowing or music), there’s the deep imprint (or deep learning you could say) that comes from that sense of teamwork which gives results from feeling part of something which is far greater than the sum of its parts.  Although I can lay no claim to having experienced this within an orchestra, I did some rowing at a lowly level: even if I and my brawny colleagues rarely experienced the out of body sense you have when an eight pulls exactly together and the boat shoots forward, I would vouch for it being one of the best feelings you can have.



Intense competition for sport and drama selection

Much talk still nationally about competitiveness in schools – and in school sport in particular. Here, suitably competitive trials have taken place for who is going to start in which team –  so, which boys and girls are going to be in which football or hockey team respectively; the difference between us and most comparable schools is that this process is based only on those who want to be in teams; however, happily there are sufficient numbers coming forward to give the competition an edge and there will be no shortage of strong competition in inter-school matches. Others will need to choose different, non-team-games sport options. In parallel, in the world of drama, competition has also been strong for the two school productions, both auditioning in the first week of term. Competition for selection here is intense, with many called and few chosen, even with the 30 roles within the two plays – the sixth form production (early November), Noises Off, directed by Jay Green; and the winter production (early December) The Relapse, directed by Phil King. On both scores, sport and drama, much good to look forward to.

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools

Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

An unlucky tennis watcher

Clearly an unlucky tennis watcher, my visits to Queen’s are blighted: last year it rained and no tennis was played; this year we had just about a set and a half of the men’s final before Nalbandian was defaulted out following his injuring of the line judge. Although I like good tennis and was sorry that it all ended like it did, it was an intriguing bit of theatre, as well as an illustration of how badly both a crowd and a professional sportsman can get things wrong.  So, fellow Queen’s watchers, why do you assume, when most of you haven’t actually seen the actual incident (the point being over), that you know better than the tournament supervisor, who has seen at close hand the extent of the injury and talked to the line judge? OK, we are upset that we are being short-changed because of missing out on almost half of the match, but does that really warrant boo-ing (not me, guv..), chanting PLAY ON, PLAY ON! brainlessly and shouting down the official as he started on the presentations at the end?  This then is probably partly responsible for making Nalbandian feel he can make only a half-hearted apology to the crowd before he then starts wittering on about how it is all the ATP for the heavy scheduling and their onerous rule book. If you have done something thoughtless and idiotic, say so then shut up. Finally, turning to the officials who generally handled this all well, including being generous in their response to Nalbandian’s excuses, why not show a replay of what actually happened? That would have beaten any attempt to explain why the decision had been made and would have silenced all but the most Pimm’s-sozzled.

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools

Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

A busy start to term

Cakes and ale no more, as Mock GCSEs, A Level modules and the diurnal working routine kick in yesterday on our first day back. Spring terms are gritty, business-like affairs – the only term not to end with festivity or to involve saying hello or goodbye to incoming or outgoing students. Much to look forward to, nonetheless, in particular a glittering round of visiting speakers, beginning with the philosopher Nigel Warburton on Friday and continuing with the FT’s Slow Lane columnist, Harry Eyres on Tuesday. Plenty to continue to celebrate in terms of university offers too – more later this week on that. Also, pleasing to reflect on a cheering few days last week when we met a strong group of applicants for next year’s Block 3 entry. Our  unusual (unique, I think, in the UK) residential assessment method involves the candidates staying for two nights and, as well as having the full battery of academic tests, experiencing the breadth of Bedales life – outdoor work, drama, sport, music, dance, art, design and, of course, life on the boarding house. We enjoy the experience and gain a very good overall picture indeed; in general they enjoy it too. 

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools

Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music school. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

An Action Packed Weekend at Bedales

Busy weekend for so many here and good to catch a glimpse of some of it: football vs Frensham on Saturday pm; Bedalian and Dunhurstian tennis players competing in numbers at Winchester; peer listening training for nine 6.1s going on throughout the weekend – nine hours in all; Cabaret technical run-through on Sunday afternoon and evening – exciting seeing the orchestra, dance and voice coming together; on Sunday, Bedales 6-a-side hockey blokes are away at an indoor tournament. Meanwhile, back here at Farm Budge (50 Church Rd), agricultural realities are catching up with our trio of chickens; they have been as unproductive as they are decorative for a long time: less decorative but more productive replacements are in the offing and a man will come and take our trio to a better place. Sentimentality has no place, I fear….

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools

Teaching craft and mystery at Bedales

Observing fellow teachers at work is one of the plum bits of this job – and the last 10 days have been full of it, as I have seen all our new teachers in action. Two venerable words always spring to mind when I see someone teach: craft and mystery. As a compulsive etymology geek I can’t resist a scamper through the heritage of these words: so craft, with its main meaning here as “the skills in carrying out one’s work” carries plenty of the “activity involving skill in making things by hand” and even a little nuance of “guile”. Mystery was the word used to describe a handicraft or trade, but then the modern use, as in mysterious, came to the fore, because the practices of these skills or trades were hidden from others. (Sorry about that, but couldn’t resist it..)  Back to the teacher’s craft or mystery and what I have seen in the classes I have observed: an exploration of the links between the religions of the Iroquois, Hindu and Genesis (Block 3 RS); inflation’s causes and its definition (6.1 Economics); different kinds of film and how to say whether you love or loathe them (Block 3 French); good and bad cholesterol and heart disease (6.1 Biology); and how to defeat your opponent in a one-to-one situation on the hockey field (Block 4 Sport). Watching good teaching and seeing and hearing students learn is always a tonic. However experienced you are as a teacher you always learn both from seeing others teach and from having someone feed back on your teaching. But however much you can analyse and itemize the techniques used – the pedagogies, if you want a fancy word – there is at the heart of all successful teaching an emotional transaction, the mystery (there we go) and even the cunning that lie at the heat of the teacher’s craft.  That’s often quite a primitive, visceral thing: so, do I, young human X, really feel that I want to listen and learn from you, older human Y. Well, now you mention it, yes…