Poetry and mud studies at Ashford Hangers Nature Reserve

By Lucy McIlwraith, Teacher of English
Photos by Matilda McMorrow, Librarian

In the English department at Bedales, we like to give students the opportunity to venture outside the classroom to gain a deeper understanding of literature. Over the last couple of years, we’ve visited Thomas Hardy’s cottage in Dorset while studying Tess of the D’Urbervilles; hosted a tea party as part of our work on The Importance of Being Earnest; enjoyed a midnight feast of exotic sensory delights to go with John Keats’ poem, The Eve of St Agnes; and held a fireside evening of poetry-by-heart for Block 3’s study of the oldest forms of English literature.

Our latest venture earlier this week gave a 6.1 English Literature class a first-hand experience of writing poetry in finest Hampshire mud. The set are studying Seamus Heaney’s first poetry collection, Death of a Naturalist, which includes lots of descriptions of water, slime and bogs. In order to get under the skin of poems that feature phrases such as ‘bubbles gargled delicately’ and ‘the squelch and slap of soggy peat’, it seemed like a good idea to don wellies (with thanks to Outdoor Work for lending some to white-trainered students) and wallow in the plentiful mud at Ashford Hangers Nature Reserve.

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Senior Maths Challenge success

Senior-Team-Challenge-2019

By Martin Hanak, Head of Maths

At the beginning of November, 20 students from Block 5, 6.1 and 6.2 volunteered to sit the Senior Maths Challenge.

Around 80,000 from across the UK took part in the competition; 15 Bedalians were awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze certificates, with Aidan Hall, Maggie Luo and Annabelle Snell all winning Gold. They also qualified for the next round, the Senior Kangaroo, which places them amongst the top 10% of all the mathletes that took part in the competition.

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Moving D-Day Memorial Service

By Mack Cowling, 6.1

On Wednesday 5 June, I attended the D-Day Memorial Service on Portsmouth Common with my two veteran grandfathers. It was an incredible experience for them, as they were able to receive merit and respect for the service they gave to the country.

One of my great grandfathers, Roy Purnell, was a troop who arrived on Juno Beach in Normandy on 6 June 1944. I also had John Castleton, my great grandfather on my other side, with me. John was part of the 76th Royal Air Force Bomber Command. He flew a Lancaster Bomber during the war until he was shot down and taken as a prisoner of war.

Due to the tremendous significance of the war in their lives, being able to reminisce and relate with stories being read by the multiple guest speakers – including the Prince of Wales, President of the United States and Her Majesty the Queen – was incredibly rewarding for them. The event itself was on for most of the day and featured music and dance, themed to the 1940s era to commemorate wartime culture.

I think the most special part of the day for everybody involved was the chance to meet and talk with the guest speakers. My great grandparents were spoken to and personally thanked for their service by Charles, Prince of Wales, and the President of the United States, Donald Trump. Overall it was an incredible experience and one which I will truly not forget.