The Summer term is usually the busiest and most rewarding; students can literally see the fruits of their labour all around them. But at the moment, certain areas of Outdoor Work (ODW) remind me of a post-apocalyptic movie. People have gone, tools have been left, a shoven leaning against a wall is slowly being choked by bindweed as it makes its way up the shaft. Yet despite the eerie silence and our missing workforce, plants still grow and animals still need tending…
Every year we time the lambing of our Jacob sheep to start at the beginning of the Summer term. This year at the black barn, we got 26 lambs from 15 ewes. Across the yard, our two sows, Bessie and Little Pig, were busy giving birth to 22 piglets between them. The barnyard was buzzing with new life and a welcome distraction for passers-by on their daily lockdown walk.
We currently have around 90 sheep on the farm. They are all at different stages of life and require a lot of hands-on work. Social distancing and farming don’t really go well together and it is at times like this that the term ‘Bedales bubble’ has been very appropriate. Without the help of students, regular jobs like weighing, treating, foot trimming, shearing and moving sheep have been a challenge. But my ‘ODW bubble’ of Kirsten, Marcella, Oscar Kingsley-Pallant, Josh Baty and my family has worked wonders!
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.
Lockdown will be one of those defining moments. We will all remember where we were and what we were doing. For me, it will be the transition from standing in front of a class of children in my lab, to sitting staring at a computer screen on my sofa – an alien world and one that I am not enjoying! However, it hasn’t all been bad. The stillness and quiet has let nature be heard and during lockdown both Mary Shotter, our Biology technician, and I have immersed ourselves in it.
Mary has taken a biodiversity study of the Bedales site, and I have been taking photos of the wildflowers during my daily walks in the vicinity of Bedales. From these walks, I have put together some wildflower quizzes that have been available on the B-More Teams channel. I have really learnt a lot doing this and seen flowers that I hadn’t noticed before. My husband and I have been lucky, living close to school and the Ashford Hangers. The unnerving quiet of a deserted A3, which we walked over daily in those early days, allowed the birds and the rustling of the trees to be heard and heightened our awareness of nature all around.
In the five weeks before half term, Block 3 students were engaged in a project for Biology, researching an ecosystem. They chose their own ecosystems, which ranged from rainforests to cold deserts, coral reefs to wetlands. They were asked to identify three habitats within their ecosystem, to look at the biotic and abiotic factors affecting each habitat, and then finally to look at the adaptations of three organisms within each habitat.
The project enabled students to be independent in their learning and to be creative. They learnt research skills and the need to reference the websites that they used. Those who looked at the marking criteria carefully performed really well. The projects were presented as PowerPoints, word documents, posters and even a website (which can be accessed here).
The idea for my EPQ came to me in a Religious Studies class, when we were arguing about the line between a cult and religion. The arguments from all sides (all religions are cults, there is a line between cults and religions, and that they can flow back and forth, etc) appealed to me, and as someone who’s always been interested in social dynamics, I decided to do an EPQ on it, with my title as ‘To what extent is a cult different from a religion?’
Overall, doing an EPQ has been an incredible experience. Taking a title and a few vague ideas and spinning it into a 5000-word dissertation has been very rewarding. I’ve read books, watched documentaries, interviewed people and found research papers that I would have otherwise never read.
This week the Chemistry Department instructed Block 3 to construct models an atom and an ion as part of the Atomic Structure and the Periodic Table topic. What makes Chemistry such a challenging subject is that it involves studying a broad range of abstract concepts. Learning about atoms and ions is an example of this.
The building blocks of the universe are so small they are almost impossible to visualise. Therefore scientists use models to help conceptualise the mysterious quantum world. The model of the atom is ever evolving as scientists produce new experiments which question previously accepted theory. We believe model building is a necessary tool in science teaching as it gives students a more authentic experience of the scientific process while as teachers it gives a more detailed insight into what students have learned from this topic. In these challenging times of remote learning we also felt the task was useful as an exercise to get students off their screens and really let their creativity take over.
Joel Edgeworth has this to say about his model: “For my atomic model project I made a neutral neon atom and a positively charge Sodium ion. For my project I used pizza boxes and the stands which the pizzas are held on. I made two models for each particle, the nucleus and the electronic configuration, and I used a tea grain to show the relative size of a nucleus in proportion to the rest of the atom / ion.”
Block 3 have been prompted to reflect on ‘character’ from The Guardian article, The real Lord of the Flies: what happened when six boys were shipwrecked for 15 months. For centuries western culture has been permeated by the idea that humans are selfish creatures. That cynical image of humanity has been proclaimed in films and novels, history books and scientific research. But in the last 20 years, something extraordinary has happened. Scientists from all over the world have switched to a more hopeful view of mankind. As we are living through this unprecedented lock down and as our theme in Wellbeing for Block 3 this year is ‘empathy’ I felt this cross-curricular article would resonate with Bedalians. The real Lord of the Flies is a tale of friendship and loyalty; one that illustrates how much stronger we are if we can lean on each other, and that we should always look for what is good and positive in people. As a Block 3 student reflects: “I enjoyed reading this article a lot. I found it very interesting and I enjoyed the expectations vs reality of it all. Books make it appear as if people being trapped on an island together will lose all sanity. Good to know that isn’t necessarily true!”
For Block 4’s theme on identity this year we have been exploring self-awareness and acceptance. Dr Brene Brown’s research and teachings permeate the entire Wellbeing curriculum provision at Bedales, so it was opportune to task students with watching her two TED talks. Dr Brown is perhaps best known for TEDx talk, The Power of Vulnerability. Recorded at an event in Houston in 2010, the talk is one of the five most popular in TED history, with more than 60 million views. It summarises a decade of Brown’s research on shame, vulnerability and courage.
By Cheryl Osborne, Head of Careers Education and Guidance
Last Friday, we carried out our first virtual Beyond Bedales Careers event, covering the fashion and design industries. We are so lucky to have amazing alumni and parents who are willing to give up their time to talk to Bedalians about their career paths and offer advice to our students about how to maximise their chances of a successful career in their chosen field.
The students spent an hour and a half listening to and engaging with our guests; Zoe Berman (OB), who is a founding director of UK based design group Studio Berman; Juliette Bigley (OB), who had an interesting career path to her life now as a sculptor, before which she had been a musician and worked in healthcare; Matthew Shave (OB), an acclaimed photographer of 25 years whose lucky break came when he submitted his portfolio to a prestigious magazine; Alexander Bond (OB) and Fraser Park (current parent), both of whom work for The Business of Fashion (BoF) and discussed the alternative roles within the fashion world. Alexander discussed his role as a project manager, and Fraser, who is the Chief Financial Officer, wanted to persuade the students that even the most creative people need to understand how to make money in the ultra-competitive world of fashion and design.
By Phil Tattersall-King, Deputy Head (Co-curricular)
On Wednesday we held a Badley Day with a difference – our very first virtual Badley Day. Although we couldn’t be together as we usually would on Badley Day, students and staff took part in a range of activities, mostly away from their screens, coming together to share their progress on Microsoft Teams throughout the day.
It was a packed day with lots on offer – from a Chain Reaction activity, a Virtual Escape Room and Creative Lego, to Gardening, Running (with the distances achieved going towards our #SyriatoSteep fundraiser – see story above), a wildlife inspired Scavenger Hunt, Cooking, Creative Writing and Journaling. Georgie Nugent’s Living Lockdown video project, which aims to create a record of everything Bedalians have, also kicked off on Badley Day and we’ll share the finished video with you when it is ready. Continue reading →
Thank you so much to all who joined in our #SyriatoSteep challenge in this final week before the half term break. We have been overwhelmed by the support and energy out there. All contributions helped us head closer to the target – we thought covering the 4,066 km distance from Idlib to Bedales in a week would be a big challenge, but with your help, we had it nailed on Wednesday. Today is our final day and we have already surpassed 6,000 kms.
At time of writing, £5,029 (including Gift Aid) has been raised for the Rural Refugee Network and John Badley Foundation, two charities helping transform the lives of people who face severe challenges, and many of whom are in extremely vulnerable situations. Thank you to those who have already generously supported. To mark our successful endeavour, we are suggesting a ‘victory lap’ and final push on the fundraising, so do please consider re-living your favourite run/walk/cycle, and send a photo to share with others (to email@example.com). And if you haven’t got round to donating, there is still time to do so here. Listen to brief videos about the two charities here: RRN; JBF.