Gentlemen of Bedales Cricket Club

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By Murray Chancellor

Having packed away your cricket gear a few years or even decades ago and just stuck to watching professional and test match cricket ever since, have you ever wondered if you could still play that match saving innings, finally take that elusive hat-trick, or indeed, actually hang onto that catch?! Here’s your chance!

The Gentlemen of Bedales Cricket Club (GoBCC) was formed in the early 2000s and emanated from the annual social game between Dunhurst parents and teachers (which, incidentally, this year is on Friday 7 June at 4pm).

GoBCC now has around 12 social fixtures against local village teams each year, generally from April through to the end of June. Home games are played on the fabulous and picturesque Bedales Memorial Pitch – probably one of the best village cricket venues in Hampshire. Local village teams love coming to us for our home fixtures.

The team has grown to include teachers, parents past and present, Bedales students past and present, and other likeminded cricketers. New players and talent of all standards are always warmly welcomed.

Last Sunday’s game against the Hambledon Invitation XI (HIXI) featured the HIXI opening batsmen being piped onto the field. GoBCC won by 124 runs with five minutes to spare before the heavens opened.

If you are interested in playing some social Sunday cricket, see the contact details on the GoBCC web page.

The changing face of Bedales

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By Matthew Rice, Old Bedalian 1975-1980, Chairman of Governors

Old Bedalians arrive for Parents’ Day, memorials or reunions, to visit as prospective parents or grandparents, or just because we are nearby and would like to see school
again. This is a welcome part of every day in Steep and we are always welcome. There is huge comfort in the place: the Library and Lupton Hall, the Orchard and the sand quarry, Steep Church or Steephurst. That familiarity is a good antidote to a life of moving
house, one’s own, or our parents’, but what if it at first seems unrecognisable? In fact,  while the overall landscape may be reassuringly familiar, the buildings are far from unchanged.

In the last 15 years, the buildings at the school have seen a period of development unmatched since the early years; nowhere is this more apparent than on arrival. The old blue Bedales School sign may be the same that was put up in the seventies (even earlier?)
but modest wooden arrows direct you to reception. Those wondering how the S or N blocks will have fared since their erection in the heady days of 1960s expansion under Tim Slack will find the austere spare lines of those modular single storey classrooms, all
piloti and oriental horizontals, have been swept away. The pond, with goldfish and prankish addition of the marble Venus de Milo, no longer forms the centre of the teaching part of Bedales; gone also are the grove of whispering crack-barked pine trees that fringed the orchard (the latter lost in the 1987 storm). Instead you will be welcomed
in a large open hall lined with honey coloured vertical larch boarding. This is the Orchard Building (Walters and Cohen 2006) and it houses the Head, Bursar and Administrative staff, as well as all the new classrooms. Cleverly aligned to the Covered Way by a wide red brick path, this was built as a reaction to a long period of stasis in
terms of bricks and mortar and was the first part of a current series of new buildings that have made major changes to the built environment at Bedales.

The last time this happened was in the 1990s when New Boys’ flat opened next to the San and the award winning Olivier Theatre (no more plays in the Quad or Lupton Hall although the latter is seeing a renaissance as venue) appeared among some surviving pines between the Workshop and the Music School. This building (Feilden Clegg 1994) spreads the active part of Bedales westwards towards what was Mr Cobb’s farmhouse. A gloomy end to that period of development was the indoor swimming pool. Built on the site of the old outdoor pool, this is amongst the least inspired buildings at Bedales. Noisy and inexpensive red brick, a huge and charmless tiled roof and inept windows make this a sad and ugly neighbour to the Mem Pitch, relating only to the utilitarian sports hall behind it. It is hard to make these essentially massive buildings interesting and the best one could have hoped for was a quieter and less strident statement.

Beyond these two on the Dunhurst pitch is the Sam Banks Pavilion. This oak framed building comprising a single room with wrap around porch was built by Gabriel Langlands (1977-90) with the help of students and staff, the roof shingles being fixed by a
distinguished team including Keith Budge, the then Head. Designed (by me) as a focus for Dunhurst sport, it has quickly become a useful venue for general school use from reunions to fundraising events. Back at the centre of the school the old Studio and Workshop are, in contemporary parlance, undergoing repurposing and will re-emerge as The Studies, a replacement to the scattered study units of the last 50 years. Here, the architect is Richard Griffiths, responsible for the sensitive and thoughtful restoration of the Lupton Hall in 2017.

Cars have been another reason for change. Bigger vehicles and many more of them have meant giving in to more and more car parking. All efforts have been made to hide or
soften the effect of this but it is a blight in what is, so importantly, a school in the country. Two more big changes are to the northeast. Outdoor Work, in its current form the brain child of the late John Rogers (staff 1975-86), brought forward by Peter Coates (staff 1989-2014) and now subject to the remarkable attention of Andrew Martin (staff 2014-present) has spread its oak framed wings over an ever increasing area. Those who left before 1980 and have never returned will find the astonishing Sotherington Barn, a gift
of Lord Selborne re-erected as part of a re-birth of good buildings at Bedales (oddly with minimal support from the Board at the time). Around it, lies the Bakery and a series of smaller barns and workshops frequenting the work of students. The observant might spot that the leaded windows that had perished in the main part of Steephurst have a
new life in a substantial rustic orangery and find much snuffling of pigs, collecting of eggs and growing of vegetables in the plots around the barn.

Lastly, the new studio and workshop in the Art & Design building are a dramatic change. Designed by the same practice as the Theatre but by a different partner, Tom Jarman, this great Barn, part Transylvanian, part Midwestern, covers the area once occupied by the estate yard and the infamous huts (printing works, stage hut and BUNCO hut). The new studio is lofty and has wonderful views to the north, while the workshops still house
the familiar benches, G clamps and vices. Perhaps this is the most dramatic of the recent changes but I hope one that is a powerful expression of what is characteristic about Bedales.

The estate is changed but unchanged. Trees blow down and trees are planted, the Orchard is much restored; long grass and wildflowers have replaced endless mowing and the A3 carriageway has sliced off a bit of the Petersfield end of the school. Dunhurst and Dunannie are also altered – the subject of a later article – but imagining the roar of the traffic as being the sea on the shingle, standing on the Mem Pitch is a remarkable opportunity to lose 20, 40 or 60 years. There is permanence in the view of Butser, the backdrop of Stoner and the Hangers, the sand quarry, the Dining Room and of course the Library and Lupton Hall.

And the greatest permanence of all is the students, lying in the Orchard, leaning over the Covered Way or walking from the station. They are the continuum and amongst the new buildings and the altered views, the most reassuringly utterly unchanged thing of all.

Stoner Cricket Club

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By Rollo Wicksteed, Old Bedalian 1949-54

Eighty-five years ago, at the end of their final year at Bedales, two boys had a meeting with their young games master to discuss the future. Jim Atkinson (1930-34) was about to
embark on an engineering degree at Cambridge, and John Fox (1929-34) was preparing to study Civil Engineering. ‘Benn’ Bennett (staff 1930-71) was in his fourth year at the school. However, it was not their futures they talked about, but the much more important question of cricket and in particular, cricket at Bedales. An idea was suggested: at the end of the Summer term, OBs should be invited to return for a week of cricket. Benn agreed to approach ‘The Chief’ (Mr Badley) to see if the proposal met with his approval. It did, so he was promptly chosen to be the Club’s first President, and Stoner Cricket was born.

Fifty years later, as the Club celebrated its half century, John recalled his memories: “Although a performer of little talent, I was quite potty about cricket and when I was due to leave, the idea of abandoning the cricket field was quite awful. I don’t remember being overly impressed by the scenic marvels of the place where I spent 14 happy years successfully resisting being taught anything… but when I found myself leaving it for good, its beauty came upon me suddenly and the notion of arranging some cricket softened the blow”.

Jim, who was not usually lost for words, was less effusive and wrote, “If the cricket has been no more than a vehicle for the making of friends and the interplay of eccentric  personalities, then never mind”. Jim was a more than useful village cricketer and was
a Stoner regular for the next 30 years, during which time he proved himself a considerable eccentric and made countless friends.

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Benn was, of course the driving spirit and a cricketer good enough to have earned a place on the Lord’s ground staff. As curator of the Bedales wicket he supervised the creation of the ‘Mem’ Pitch after the war, ensuring that it was the best ground in the district. On the death of Mr Badley in 1967, Benn became President of Stoner. Since Stoner’s foundation, hundreds of OBs and their friends have played for the Club including over half a dozen Head Boys. Staff have also played an important part including Ken Keast (staff 1939-49), Harold Gardiner (staff 1952-68), John Batstone (staff 1968-93), Norman Bellis (staff 1956-63) and Anthony Gillingham (staff 1946-70).

For those too young to know him, Anthony was an Old Etonian Marxist who helped sink the Bismarck during the war and had a father who played for Essex!

There have been many other interesting characters who have worn the club colours.  Richard Tomlinson (1970-76) has written a highly acclaimed 400 page biography of W.G. Grace. Roger Lloyd Pack (1957-62) became a film and TV star whose brief innings in
the film The Go-Between was featured in its entirety. Matthew Quantrill (1978-83) was a remorseless compiler of runs who tragically died before he could record his 100th Century.

Peter ‘Bunny’ Layton (1940-46) was a stockbroker whose legendary generosity did not always extend to his racing tips or his running between wickets, Alastair Britten (1957-62) invariably slept in a tent during Stoner Week as a tribute to the Club’s pioneers. Finally, Connor Wilkinson (1976-78), was always available to make up the numbers and his unfailing optimism with both bat and ball won him wide admiration. I could go on but enough.

After 84 years, the news that the 2018 Cricket Week had to be cancelled due to lack of  players saddened me and only Hitler had managed that. However, amid the wailing and gnashing of teeth, there are cautious grounds for optimism that a renaissance may be round the corner. Cricket at Dunhurst is flourishing, and both the Bursar and the new  Heads at Bedales and Dunhurst, love cricket and may even sport MCC ties, which shows the right spirit! We also hear that staff and parents have their own team trading under the name ‘Gentlemen of Bedales’, which includes some enthusiastic pupils.

The idea of a week’s cricket after the end of term has been discussed, and sounds an attractive possibility. Perhaps it’s worth a try – it worked last time!

This article was originally published in the Bedales Association & Old Bedalian Newsletter 2019. Find out more about Stoner Cricket Club, including this year’s fixtures, here.

Engaging Arvon Creative Writing trip

On 15 April, English teachers Lucy Mcilwraith and Julia Bevan accompanied a group of Bedales students to the Hurst Arvon Centre in Shropshire for a five-day residential creative writing course.

Set in the former home of the late playwright John Osborne and led by tutors Malika Booker and Colin Grant, both of whom are published writers, the course saw the group take part in a series of workshops designed to “ignite a life-long love of creative writing”.

Over the course of the five days, group writing workshops saw students take part in a range of exercises, including keeping haiku diaries as a way of focussing observation skills; free writing as a means of ‘loosening up’ and increasing the flow of ideas; exploring ways of creating images to express emotions; using memoir writing as a way of recording not only facts but also atmospheres; and practising writing dialogue where each new speech had to start with the sequential letter of the alphabet.

In addition to workshops, one-to-one tutorials and readings with guest speakers, the group were given the freedom to develop their own written work and explore the beautiful remote environment.

The independent living experience formed a significant part of the retreat, and students spent time in small groups in the kitchen, preparing the evening meal and washing up – something which promoted rather than stifled creativity.

In an email to parents during the trip, Lucy and Julia wrote: “As we’re in the home of John Osborne, a writer of kitchen sink drama, I think it’s particularly appropriate that the washing up crew indulged in kitchen sink poetry. We tried one word each, then rhyming couplets, then answering each other only in rhyme. For some reason we kept coming back to ‘feet’ and ‘beef’, but it certainly made the washing up go more quickly!”

The students, who will now produce an anthology of their written work from the course, praised the way the course offered them the space to write creatively with minimal distractions.

As many of the students particularly enjoyed the writing exercises in the mornings while on the course, Julia now intends to keep the group going following their return to school, through monthly writing sessions.

Insightful visit to Brockwood Park

By Blossom Gottlieb, 6.2

A vegetarian school where the students choose whether to take exams or not? Sign me up!

On 13 March, a group of three students in 6.2 took a trip with Al McConville to Brockwood Park School, only 15 minutes away in Alresford, to join their Inquiry Time (described as their “weekly opportunity to look deeper at issues arising in life, living together, the intentions of the school and how we respond to them”) and get involved in their Human Ecology (aka Outdoor Work on steroids!)

I was struck not only by the beautiful surroundings of the school, but the sense of community that we experienced in the assembly as soon as we arrived. Sat in a circular formation around a few meditating people in the centre of this octagonal timber-roofed room, the atmosphere of peace was incomparable.

Inquiry Time is an hour and a half session where students and teachers discuss a topic of importance, without debating it, enabling them to share their opinions without fear of judgement.  The question for last Wednesday was How does education affect us and how do we affect education? This led our group to question what ‘education’ is, semantically; whether examinations serve a purpose; whether schools actually ‘educate’ their pupils; and the impact education has on society.

After this, we got involved in Outdoor Work-style jobs. For Al, this was repotting plants and digging; for me, it was watching a documentary on re-growing vegetation in land that has been deforested, then wiping leaves, a task which allowed me to time to reflect on the morning.

It was a delightful and enlightening experience and I really enjoyed getting to know a few of Brockwood’s lovely students and teachers – I only wish more Bedalians had taken the opportunity to visit such a wonderful school.

Encouraging lifelong interest in sport

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By Spencer Leach, Director of Sport

In 2017 a survey by Women in Sport found that only 56% of girls in secondary school enjoyed participating in sport compared with 71% of boys, and only 45% of girls saw the relevance of PE to their lives against 60% of boys. The gender split is worrying, but in truth none of these figures are good enough – at Bedales, we want all students to leave the school having enjoyed sport in some way, and minded to continue some kind of participation in their adult lives. Something I think we’ve done particularly well at Bedales is to help students who have arrived feeling that sport isn’t for them to find something they enjoy. No matter the student, they will always get a warm reception from us, and we will try to find something for them that is suited to their abilities and preferences – for various reasons.

For example, sport brings distinctive opportunities for students to learn about themselves and others, and to develop confidence – although this needs careful management. In a classroom you can make three errors in, say, maths, and it is not immediately obvious. However, if you commit three howlers in the context of a team sport, everybody sees them and it may prompt disappointment and frustration. This requires staff to be alert to the dangers when mistakes happen, and to help students deal with them in an appropriate way. This requires some emotional maturity. It is interesting that some of our best athletes can find this difficult. In such cases, the coaches will be aware of it, and we are prepared for when students’ thought patterns are less than constructive. We encourage them to see that they are still in the game, that they haven’t blown it, and even if they don’t prevail on that occasion the world won’t end.

Of course, in all of this there is sometimes a tension to be managed between competing and ensuring everybody is involved, which is particularly evident in team fixtures against other schools. There may be the temptation to pursue a win at all costs, but I’m pleased to say over the last 10 to 15 years a more sensible approach has come to prevail, not least because national governing bodies have played a big part in making the experience of young people more central. So, in setting up a fixture I will have a conversation with my opposite number about our relative strengths and what we can do to make the encounter meaningful. Will the students enjoy it? Will they be inspired to practise and get better? The results will take care of themselves – in a well-planned season we’ll win some and lose some, and have some thrillers along the way. We enjoy success, and try to learn from things that didn’t go quite so well. And if we win 10-0 there will be some reflection on how we can make the next encounter between the teams a more challenging affair for the sake of both teams.

Although we are keen to find something enjoyable for all of our students, I like to think that we can also give our excellent athletes what they need from us. We work hard to find ways of challenging them that are meaningful and which they will appreciate. If we think they can cope, we find them opportunities with older year groups, and if we feel students might benefit from moving up to another representative level, we can make that happen. Our links with local clubs and regional representative structures are very strong.

We are not a big school and it is unlikely that we will have sustained national sporting success, but if we’ve got lots of children who have a positive attitude to being physically active, and will keep that attitude in their adult lives, then we do the subject justice – just so long as we make sure that we also stretch those students who really do have the appetite and aptitude for great things.

Praise for Bedales teacher’s book

A book co-written by Bedales Director of Learning and Innovation Alistair McConville has been named as one of the top 10 education books of 2018.

Learning How to Learn: How to Succeed in School Without Spending All Your Time Studying; A Guide for Kids and Teens by Barbara Oakley and Terrence Sejnowski with Alistair McConville was included in a list of last year’s top books on education as selected by TES editor Ann Mroz.

The book, which is written for children, gives an accessible account of how our brains work along with activities that be put into practice immediately. TES describes the book as “a landmark”, noting that it goes beyond traditional teacher injunctions to communicate directly with the pupil.

No More Marking’s Director of Education Daisy Christodoulou, who reviewed the book in September, said: “This book explains in a pupil-friendly way why things such as practice and drill really do matter, and how in the long term they will make your life easier and save you the misery of late-night cramming and exam anxiety.”

Other books to have made the cut include The Teacher Gap by Rebecca Allen and Sam Sims, The Tyranny of Metrics by Jerry Muller and Inventing Ourselves: the Secret Life of the Teenage Brain by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore. See the full list here.