Beyond Bedales: Meet the Medics – 1 March 2021

By Cheryl Osborne, Teacher of Biology and Careers Advisor

The next Beyond Bedales event, Meet the Medics, will take place on Microsoft Teams on 1 March at 5.45pm. Six Old Bedalians currently studying or practicing medicine – Luke Austen, Adam Osborne, Claudia Anholt, Ollo Catton, Molly Graham and George Sinclair – will be joining us for this event. Each of the OBs will talk about their application journeys and where they are now, and students will also have the opportunity to ask questions.

This event is a must for anyone who is interested in medicine or another healthcare career,Students interested in attending this event should contact me at cosborne@bedales.org.uk so I can invite them to the event via Teams.

Luke Austen, Clinical Fellow in Acute Medicine, Edinburgh

Luke studied at Bedales Sixth Form from 2010-2012, before doing pre-clinical medicine at Pembroke College, Oxford from 2012-2015 and clinical medicine at Harris Manchester College, Oxford from 2015-2018. He completed FY1 & FY2 year at University Hospitals Birmingham before moving to Edinburgh, where he is currently a Clinical Fellow in Acute Medicine. His main interests are simulation-based education, clinical human factors, resuscitation and critical care. He is pursuing a career in Anaesthetics and Intensive Care Medicine.

Adam Osborne, F2, Aberystwyth and Masters in Global and remote Medicine, Plymouth

Adam left Bedales in 2014 with A levels in Biology, Chemistry and Maths, and an AS in Physics. He studied medicine at the University of Exeter. He spent four years in Exeter (two mostly lectures and learning life sciences, two placement based) and one year in Truro, Cornwall (all placement). He chose not to intercalate but he is now completing a Master’s degree in Global and Remote Medicine at the University of Plymouth (long distance due to COVID) whilst also working as an F2 (18 months out of graduation), in Aberystwyth for the year.

Claudia Anholt, Fourth year, University of East Anglia

Claudia left Bedales in 2014. She did not get into medicine first time round and did not put down a fifth choice, as she only wanted to do medicine. She was going to re-apply following A Level results, but with AAB she applied to the University of Liverpool to do Biomedicine through clearing. Once she completed this degree, she re-applied to medicine and is currently in her fourth year at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Ollo Catton, Fourth year, University of Bristol, and intercalating BSc Childhood Studies

Ollo left Bedales in 2017. He went straight to the University of Bristol where he is in his fourth year. Ollo is currently intercalating in a BSc in Childhood Studies. 

Molly Graham, Second year, University of Manchester

Molly left Bedales in the summer of 2018 and is currently studying at the University of Manchester in her second year.

Classics in lockdown

By Christopher Grocock, Teacher of Classics

I am utterly indebted to the cooperation and cheerfulness of the Bedales students who have joined in wholeheartedly as we have kept our classes in Latin (and a bit of Greek) going! When we started in the latest lockdown I wasn’t sure how well we would get on – but we have all coped with the challenges of poor internet and strange work stations in our various homes (mainly by laughing when things go wrong – what else could we do?) Looking back over the past couple of months I am intrigued by the good progress we have made, in all the year groups from Block 3 to 6.2.

What’s made this happen? I can think of a few factors. The fact that Latin and Greek are ‘dead’ languages has helped – we don’t depend on the immediacy which is a key positive part of learning a modern language. There is the fact that in isolation students have had more time (with fewer distractions from other students around them!) to work at their own pace, and had the courage to ask for help whenever they needed it. Above all our progress has been helped by the sheer goodwill of all the students (and sympathetic and supportive parents – thank you!) right across the year-groups.

We have accepted that things would go wrong, technologically; we wait. We have coped with strange differences in time-zones and the issues that brings. We have accepted that working from home is challenging and if for any reason a student can’t find the set text book they used only two days before, we give them time to get it; and if it has been buried under something we find something else to do which usefully helps us make progress. And progress we have… to my delight (and relief, let’s be honest!)

I am looking forward to being back in a classroom and seeing students without strange backgrounds on their screens. It will, I admit, take some adjustments. But there has been more thriving than surviving and I hope that everyone involved – myself included – has come out of the experience with lots of lessons learned about how we learn and how we can motivate ourselves when we are ‘back to normal’, however the new normal looks.

And to close, here’s a challenge to all the Bulletin Readers. This is a passage from our Block 3 workbook, with a quiz at the bottom – put the sentences in the right order.

To help you, I am including Siena’s completed storyboard. Try it for yourselves!

Walking in lockdown

By Chloe Nicklin, Head of Netball

This week, students have been sharing the view from the walks they have been completing as part of their exercise in lockdown. Thank you to Clara Stannah, Lula Goldring, Maia Blake, Maya Martin, Milly Trench, Nissi Mavurah, Posy Kingsley-Pallant and Rosy Riley for their contributions.

Francis Bacon at Bedales

By Ian Douglas, Librarian and Archivist

This week, I was delighted to receive the major new biography of Francis Bacon, by the Pulitzer Prize-winning team of Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan. It was so kind of them to arrange a complimentary copy for the Memorial Library. The book, hailed as “a captivating triumph” and “the definitive biography”, will be of particular interest to Bedalians because it re-evaluates the time the artist spent living in the Lodge at Bedales during the Second World War.

Bacon had served as a volunteer in the London ARP during the early part of the Blitz, but his severe asthma made it impossible to withstand the suffocating clouds of dust that followed a bombing raid. He was forced to take refuge in the country.

Bacon’s patron and lover Eric Hall, husband of Barbara Hall (Bedales 1908-13) and their friend Ken Keast (Bedales Staff 1939-49) arranged for him to rent the Lodge from 1940 to 1943.

Bedales Lodge, much as it would have appeared during Bacon’s tenancy

Previous biographers have tended not to make much of this interlude. Many have got no further than the comic image of a confirmed urbanite struggling to adjust to the countryside – “waking up with all those things singing outside the window”.

This is due partly to Bacon’s famous reticence about his artistic development prior to 1945, when his reputation was established with the first exhibition of his Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion. This event is widely seen as a watershed in the history of painting — “there was painting in England before the Three Studies, and painting after them, and no one … can confuse the two” — and Bacon himself colluded in attempts to forget all that had led up to it. He destroyed much of his earlier work, and as far as possible he suppressed what he could not destroy.

Stevens and Swann are therefore breaking new ground in exploring the period leading up to this watershed. The years spent at Bedales are re-evaluated as a “critical moment” in the artist’s life; a time of “internal reckoning”. They describe the genesis of the few incomplete works surviving from this time (Man in a CapSeated ManMan Standing and Landscape with Colonnade) which were inspired by news photographs from Picture Post which Bacon used to buy weekly in Petersfield. This work shows “Bacon’s turn towards a more gestural form of figurative painting” as well as prefiguring some of the imagery of the Three Studies.

I’m grateful for this fresh appreciation of Bacon’s Hampshire interlude, and I continue to wonder about his motives in choosing Bedales as his bolt-hole. Was it merely a place where his friends knew of a vacant cottage, or was there a more particular attraction? Bacon had already collaborated in joint exhibitions with OB artists Julian Trevelyan and Ivon Hitchens. He may also have known that John Rothenstein — director of the Tate, who later bought Bacon’s work for the gallery — was a Bedalian. I wonder if he was seeking a sort of urbs in rure, to sustain him in his forced exile among the inconsiderate birds.

The new book draws on material from the Bedales Archive, which receives many such enquiries about the history of the school and its former staff and students. The work of the Archive would be impossible without the generous support of many Old Bedalians. Financial donations, and donations of material relating the life of the school – recent as well as more distant history – are always welcome.

Francis Bacon: Revelations, by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan is published in the UK by William Collins. It is available from the publisher, and from all good booksellers.

The cognitive interview

By Anna Sukhikh and Livy Ewing, 6.1

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic the various talks and conferences A Level Psychology students typically would have the opportunity to attend has been limited. However, on Thursday we were fortunate to meet Detective Constable Samantha Hockley in our Psychology lesson for a talk on the cognitive interview, a questioning technique used by the police to enhance retrieval of information about a crime scene from the eyewitnesses and victim’s memory.

Samantha has been working in the police force for 19 years, and as a detective for eight. As a detective, the cognitive interview plays a big role in her everyday life. The cognitive interview is a procedure used by police when interviewing witnesses and victims of crime and is one of the techniques of eyewitness testimony that we learnt about in class. The cognitive interview was developed by Geiselman in 1985, who found that the standard police interview could negatively interfere with eyewitness recall. This technique was further researched by Fischer in 1990, who found that witnesses gave accounts in greater detail when detectives were trained to use the cognitive interview. Sam herself has had much success with this method, including helping to prove a stalker guilty, resulting in a 10-year sentence. 

Sam highlights the importance of making the interviewee feel comfortable. She does this by finding common ground and making herself seem approachable, saying that she likes to appear maternal to the witness/victim. This was slightly surprising to us as we have been conditioned to believe that detectives are often hostile. Upon further discussion, we realised there is a significant importance to making the witness/victim feel comfortable as it can reduce high anxiety, which may negatively impact accurate recall. 

Sam also points out it can be difficult to avoid leading questions, although sometimes it is necessary, because she does not want to place false information into the victim’s head, which could later be used against them in court. This was a really interesting experience for us as a class, as we were able to hear about how the cognitive interview is used in practice and the experience from the side of the interviewer.  

A letter to 6.2 A Level English

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English

For the past two years, I have been in the unusual position of teaching a whole cohort of A Level English students. What a privilege this has been; first to get to know you all last year through studying the contemporary Poems of the Decade and an evening with Julia Copus, and then to guide you through some of the pressures of online learning.  

Certainly, my most fulfilling teaching moments last spring involved supporting many of you as you wrote your coursework essays. We worked together, adopting university-style tutorials that were really conducive to the task at hand. In this intimate learning environment, you rigorously dismantled and reassembled your analytical arguments, embedding close textual analysis and context into essays, and become young but impressive scholars of Seamus Heaney, and Arundhati Roy. It is wonderful that I have taught one or two of you since Block 4 and that a number of you are now determined to study English at university: what more could a teacher want?

In the autumn term of this academic year your focus and determination were remarkable. At times as a teacher managing the new COVID secure protocol on site was tough; but it was worth it so that I could introduce you to Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf in person and watch you draw comparisons between this novel and her older sister Wuthering Heights. Both novels deal radically with early forms of mental health, a subject on which you often edify me.You demonstrated such maturity and sensitivity in November, embracing hybrid teaching early on so that those of you at home self-isolating could stay part of the class discussion. You make me very proud and are a credit to your parents.

I believe passionately that we learn much from creating peak experiences inside and outside the class room and I had hoped to take you on a weekend trip to Haworth in Yorkshire, to visit the Parsonage where Emily Bronte died and to walk up onto the Moors to Top Withens, a remote, abandoned farm considered to be the inspiration for her only novel. Instead we returned to our homes and computer screens and I have had the challenge of trying to inspire you with the poetry of John Keats. 

A poet of the senses, he is a joy to teach in the winter and early spring in Steep, ideally in the Meditation Hut or the Lupton Hall, where two years ago I launched the first ‘Eve of St Agnes Experience’ with Lucy McIlwraith. 

This year I asked you to work on collaborative creative responses to the poem and I have been amazed at what you have achieved from homes many miles apart. Your original work neatly coincides with the publication of an essay entitled ‘Weavers of Dreams in The Eve of St Agnes and A Midsummer Night’s Dream‘ in the English and Media Centre EMAG, co-authored with my partner in Keatsian crime, Lucy. I’ve decided this will be my third and last Keats’ experience, and hope to teach Shakespeare next year. It makes sense to end on such a high.

To all of my 6.2 English students: thank you. “St Agnes moon hath set.” 

Professionally mentored Design project

By Huxley Green, 6.1

6.1 Product Design students have been continuing with the first full project of their A Level studies: designing a learning space to be placed somewhere on the school grounds. This project was to be inspired by a notable designer and feature the use of two particular materials; each student was allocated a different designer and combination of materials. We were then asked to come up with conceptual ideas to be expanded upon at a later date. These would be represented by research and design work in our sketchbooks, a scale model and a CAD model using SolidWorks. Final presentation boards were presented to Old Bedalian Patrick Lewis, a practising architect based in London who is running the project alongside Bedales Head of Product Design Alex McNaughton.

Unfortunately, as we re-entered lockdown in January, most students have been unable to continue their model-making at home, so this has been delayed until later in the year. However, it was possible for us to continue our projects using Adobe InDesign and Photoshop along with SolidWorks from home on their own computers. In-house video tutorials aided us in progressing independently alongside our online classes and one-to-one instruction.

These sessions allowed us to create a wide range of impressive presentation boards, which were presented to Patrick. We each had a window of time to talk Patrick and Alex through our final design at the online group critique presentation session on 28 January, before we received feedback from Patrick about how we could continue and improve our projects.

My project was to combine the beautiful campus and the high-quality Music and Drama of Bedales into a missing element; an outdoor stage inspired by Charles and Ray Eames (my allocated designers), using concrete and plywood (my allocated materials). Other projects included quiet reading areas, sensory learning spaces for Dunannie, social areas and a library/café.

Patrick seemed to be impressed by a scope of designs produced by 6.1 students and we hope to be able to present our evolved and developed ideas, a scale model, and revised and improved presentation boards to Patrick in person later in the year.

Volunteering for DofE

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English and DofE Manager

While we are in lockdown, it is trickier than usual for students to complete the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award, but I am pleased to see that so many of them remain committed to completing the various sections of the programme despite the circumstances we find ourselves in.

For the Volunteering section of the Bronze Award, Block 3 student Mo Griffiths wrote to West Wittering Estate to request permission to do some litter picking on West Wittering beach. They were very happy for Mo to litter pick at the beach and, as well as giving Mo a quick safety briefing before he set off, offered to lend him a litter picker. Mo wore gloves for the activity and chose to focus on picking up small pieces of plastic which don’t decompose and can stick around indefinitely, causing problems for marine ecosystems.

I look forward to seeing more students’ contributions to their DofE Award in the coming weeks.

Ushering in the spring

By Feline Charpentier, 6.2 Houseparent and Teacher of Outdoor Work

In Living with the Land, our Sixth Form course that launched at the start of this academic year, we talk about the changing of the seasons a lot. About paying attention to the landscape around us, about how the land can influence our own state of mind, and help us be more present. The old calendars which celebrated the earth cycles, marking the four solstices and the four cross quarters, are often good for reminding us of the inevitable change that occurs all around us.

In the traditional calendar we are approaching one of the four fire festivals, a cross quarter moment in the year, known as Imbolc (or St Bride’s, or Groundhog Day, in the US). The other fire festivals are Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain. Imbolc this year occurs on the night of 1 February, going into the morning of the 2nd.

Looking out of the window it can seem that all of life is dreary, grey and wet, that there is little to hope for. We are all trapped indoors, and it can feel that spring may never come. And yet, all of life lies dormant beneath the soil. The trees hold the promise of buds, there are snowdrops beginning to flower. It is a matter of weeks before signs of life will begin to show.

Imbolc literally refers to ‘in the belly’, referring originally to lambing season, which would be beginning about now for many farmers, to the fertility of the soil, the imminent arrival of spring and all the life it brings with it. Our ancestors would have spent time reflecting on the year behind them, and planning the planting for the year ahead. They would have seen this time of year as a time to rest, to recuperate, to sleep and store energy for what was to come.

In some way our current confinement is exactly that, a time to rest, and plan for what lies ahead.

Although we all wish things were different and we might even be wishing the time away, there is hope to be found in the small things, in the inevitable turning of the earth towards the spring, in the time we have been gifted to reflect, to recuperate, to make plans, to hope.

Imbolc brings with it the opportunity to reflect on the darkness of winter, to draw breath and take stock, to prepare for the newness of the spring and summer ahead. To plant seeds, both literally and metaphorically, for the future. In our online ODW lessons we are baking, reading, crafting and making, planting seeds, planning what we will grow this year, looking forward to when we are all here again.

So maybe, this Imbolc, why not write your intentions for the year ahead, plant some seeds, bring a few sprigs of hazel inside to see the buds come out, or even make a solar (or St. Brigid’s) cross if you can gather some Rushes outdoors. Find instructions here.

Building resilience: practical strategies in wellbeing

By Kirsten McLintock, Head of Wellbeing & PSHE

In Wellbeing, we are taking the opportunity during online learning to delve into the practical strategies that we should all have in order to cultivate a resilient spirit. Resilience is at the heart of wellbeing. Over the coming weeks, Blocks 3-5 will be focusing on practising the five pillars of resilience; fostering healthy emotional and mental health strategies for life; learning to manage the uncomfortable and struggles in life; mindfulness practice; and connection and support.

All five pillars of resilience are crucial, but in the coming weeks we will focus on developing self-awareness, self-care and mindfulness practice in our Wellbeing sessions. This week, Bedalians have produced a ‘Wellness Jar’ detailing the activities they are going to do on a daily and weekly basis (plus emergencies and treats) in order to be resilient, thus developing healthy emotional and mental health for life. Have a look at my Wellness Jar below. Students have been asked to share the contents of the Wellness Jar with their loved ones.

Additional strategies for fostering resilience discussed in our Wellbeing lessons have included the importance of keeping routines going – including 9-10 hours of sleep, meal times, exercise, play, cognitively stimulating activities, work and relaxation – so that days have rhythm and structure and are not spent inactive. Endless time without structure, meaning and purpose is unhealthy for the body and mind.

There are a number of resources available for parents and teenagers for mental/emotional health issues. Young Minds has a free helpline for parents (0808 802 5544, available 9.30am-4pm, Monday to Friday), as well as a useful website. Helpful information can also be found on the Royal College of Psychiatrists website. Young people can access support from helplines, text lines and online chat services at any time – Childline (0800 1111), Young Minds Crisis Messenger (text YM to 85258) and the Mix (0808 808 4994).