Senior Maths Challenge success

By James Welham, Head of Mathematics

Well done to all the students to took part in the UKMT Senior Maths Challenge earlier this term. Particular congratulations to Annabelle Snell for achieving the top score in the school, Gemini Wang for the top score in 6.2 and Chubbs Bailey for the top score in Block 5. 

This year’s certificates go to:

Silver

Orlando Closs (6.2)
Arthur Lingham (6.2)
Gemini Wang (6.2)
Annabelle Snell (6.1)
Raef Macnaughten (6.1)

Gold

Charlie Abbott (6.2)
Sam Wheeler (6.2)
Zakhar Gabriadze (6.1)
Rhiannon Griffiths (6.1)
Isabella McGrath (6.1)

Many congratulations!

Pastoral update: The effects of cyberbullying and a new app to watch out for

By Rick Cross, Deputy Head (Pastoral)

Schools, parents and students have long known about the debilitating effects of cyberbullying, and with numerous restrictions on our freedoms and movements over recent months, the need to be kind to each other online seems even more pertinent.

Students at Bedales, as with young people across the country, have access to a huge range of apps and services, but with this freedom comes responsibility. Parents play a vital role in this process too and in my experience want to help. To that end I would like to highlight Internet Matters as a useful resource, which provides parents with guidance about a rapidly changing world online, and offers reviews of apps for parents.

One app worth being aware is Tellonym, where users can receive messages through the platform which are called ‘Tells’. Every Tell is sent and received to the recipient’s private inbox, which no one else can see. Then, only if a user decides to answer a Tell, the original Tell, and the answer becomes visible to other users. This app has been given a rating of 17+ on the Apple App Store, but we are aware it is being used by younger students at Bedales.

This anonymous app has gathered some concerning reviews and press coverage over recent years. I include it here as a way to open up a conversation with your children about what apps they may be using and how to behave responsibly whilst also staying safe and avoiding risky behaviour. Cyberbullying makes up part of the schools Anti-Bullying policy.

On Tuesday next week, Jen Moore, the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL), will host a special session for students about the schools guiding principles and rationale behind the schools filtering system, discussing different sites and platforms students regularly ask for. We want to engage with the student body so they can enjoy the online world safely.

Ensembles impress at annual Cecilia Concert

By Doug McIlwraith, Director of Music

On Monday, 54 students took to the stage of the Oliver Theatre for the first major music department ensembles concert since March 2020. The orchestra had been split into its constituent parts and each ensemble played a short selection of pieces.

An impressive 15-piece brass ensemble started the evening of with energetic performance of a Fanfare by Wagner and Leroy Anderson’s Bugler’s Holiday. Leela Walton and Samantha Dale had prepared the famous Double Violin Concerto by Bach and they were accompanied by a small baroque ensemble which included support from Lila Levingston and Tiger Braun-White. Soloists and accompanists alike impressed with their confident and stylish performance.

The string ensemble gave excellent renditions of music by Holst and John Williams and a music stand malfunction mid-performance failed to mar their polished performance!  Eight new students had swelled the ranks of the woodwind ensemble which gave a very convincing performance of a Divertimento by Haydn, full of charm and really fine musical detail.

The singers had a slightly harder job as we were only able to have 15 singers at a time on the stage and the choirs are usually twice that size. However the junior singers sang Mozart’s Ave verum with real confidence and the senior singers sang music from the 1500s by Bennet, Victoria and an anonymous madrigal from northern Spain. The percussion ensemble were joined by Shoshana Yugin-Power on the flute and Monty Bland on the double bass for Mongo Santamaria’s Afro Blue, and the jazzy mood continued with the jazz band rounding the evening off with Eddie Harris’ Cool Duck Time.

It was quite an operation to put all this together and abide by the COVID restrictions but the students did brilliantly, aided by the Theatre and Music staff to whom I am extremely grateful.

Biodiversity update – Moths

By Mary Shotter, Biology Technician

Moths are declining in the UK. Studies have found the overall number of moths has decreased by 28 percent since 1968. The situation is particularly bad in southern Britain, where moth numbers are down by 40 percent. Many individual species have declined dramatically in recent decades and over 60 became extinct in the 20th century.

These alarming decreases in moth populations are not just bad news for the moths themselves, but also have worrying implications for the rest of our wildlife. Moths and their caterpillars are important food items for many other species, including amphibians, small mammals, bats and many bird species.

The reasons for the loss of moths are likely to be many and complex, including changes in the way we manage our gardens, pesticides, herbicides and light pollution. Climate change appears to also be affecting moths.

However at Bedales moths appear to be doing very well. Over the last few months, I have been putting out a ‘light trap’ once a week to attract moths and have so far found just over 100 species, including 4 types of hawkmoth – elephant, pine, poplar and the giant privet hawkmoth which has a 12cm wingspan.

Many of the moth species we have at Bedales are masters of camouflage – such as the Buff tip, which disguises itself as a birch twig and the Flame which has evolved to resemble a broken stick.

My favourite to date has to be the wonderfully named Merveille du Jour which translates roughly as ‘the best thing I’ve seen all day’ –  pictured above (bottom right) merging into lichen on a fence behind the science department.

Many moth caterpillars feed on grasses and it appears that the policy of keeping  areas around the school uncut is reaping rewards for both moths and the many other species that depend on them.

Impressive efforts as DofE participants prepare for expeditions

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English and DofE Manager

Bedales students have been busy working towards their Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Awards in preparation for the expeditions due to take place in Spring 2021.
 
There are four main sections of a DofE programme: Volunteering, Physical, Skills and Expedition. Bedales students who wish to take part in the expeditions have been asked to complete two sections, provide supporting evidence (an Assessor’s Report is the very minimum needed to pass a section) and for this to be signed off the scheme’s portal, eDofE, by the end of January 2021.
 
Although it is still only November, there has been a fantastic effort from students already. Well done to Kamaya Nelson-Clayton (Block 5), who has been working very hard to complete her Silver Award, volunteering at a youth centre near her home in South London; Issy Robinson (Block 4), who has completed her Bronze Award; Katie Mansbridge (Block 5), who completed lots of hill-walking in the Lakes and on the South Downs during lockdown; Georgie Du Boulay (6.1), who has completed her Silver Award, cycling the South Downs Way and running a social media page for Extinction Rebellion’s Winchester branch as part of her service; and Kit Mayhook-Walker (6.1), completed Couch to 5k during lockdown to go towards his Silver Award.
 
It is tougher than usual for students to volunteer at the moment, but I have been really impressed at the initiative students have been taking to complete this section of their awards. Taragh Melwani and Sacha Weisz Brassay (both 6.1) arranged to volunteer in Bedales’ Outdoor Work department, Thomas Figgins (6.1) volunteers locally at the Petersfield Community Garden, and a number of Block 3 students have been litter-picking.
 
The practice expeditions in Spring are a highlight of the school calendar. Letters with full details of each expedition were sent out to parents of students who have signed up for DofE last week. If your child would like to take part, please let me know as soon as possible, and do encourage them to complete two sections of their award – as a starting point, they may well have completed their Physical section during lockdown, and just need to write it up – and take the next steps to organise an Assessor’s Report, which should be completed by a non-family member.
 
From now until Christmas, I will be available to help if students need any guidance or assistance to complete their sections, and I am looking forward to hearing more about what students did during lockdown. Students can find me in the English Office or teaching in the Orchard Building. If they would like to drop-in at a specific time, I will be available during Badley Time on Mondays, or they can reach me by email at jbevan@bedales.org.uk.

Diversity and Inclusion update

By Abi Wharton, Head of Global Awareness and Inclusion Working Group Lead

In recent weeks, I have been asked – and asked myself – some deeply uncomfortable questions around the issues of diversity and inclusion within our school and society at large. However, I am learning to embrace the opportunity to feel uncomfortable as it is the only way we will be able to move forward and address the issues confronting us all. We are all aware that the past few months have been a period of seismic reckoning in relation to both equality and representation.

Many Independent Schools Council (ISC) schools were called out, quite rightly, by current students and alumni, in the wake of the death of George Floyd and the ensuing Black Lives Matter movement. Bedales is not alone in grappling with what this means in the long term for how we address these encompassing issues and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to work with colleagues on a micro and macro scale to understand how we all can contribute to calling out systemic inequalities within our society.

Crucially, we must be committed to sustained change with a clear understanding of what our aims and values are. This involves open and honest conversations with all members of our community about where we currently sit and clear clarification of our aims. We need to work both genuinely and collaboratively to understand where conscious and unconscious bias exists and ensure that we are accountable with a commitment to consistently engage in challenging conversations. This will lead us in our goal to develop a positive and inclusive culture open to different ways of working.

Therefore, our actions must match our words and impact must be embedded into the culture of Bedales. Our approach cannot be generalised, hence why I am spending time on understanding what our starting point is. This relates back to asking these uncomfortable questions so we can actively measure our progress. Our intention is to ‘pulse-check’ on a regular basis which involves asking our parents, students, alumni and teachers how we are doing and asking you all to feed in to the progress we are making in creating harmony in uniqueness. As ever, please do get in touch with me if you would like to join this conversation.

One immediate initiative in developing this conversation is ‘We all have relevant things to say’.

Spreading cheer at annual Block 3 Fireside Night

By Lucy McIlwraith, Teacher of English

As the nights draw in and we all remember the reason for the winter festivals that feature lots of fire and warmth, it’s time for the English department to spread some cheer, as we did at the Block 3 Fireside Night last Friday. This is an evening event, at which students and staff are invited to perform memorised poetry, stories and songs in the great hall of the Bedales Dining Room, lit only by fire from the enormous fireplace and a few candles. As it is difficult to photograph an event held in near total darkness, it must retain its mystery, but here is what it’s all about…

The students had been asked to think about life without phones, TVs and electricity, and what homegrown entertainment would look like without those things. Before the Fireside Night, Bedales English teachers had shared their own feelings about performance and how nerve-wracking it generally is. I had also been to the Block 3 assembly to reassure students that no one would be looking for perfection in this kind of performance, and remind them that we all need to forget what we see on our screens everyday, as it is not a fair representation of a live performance.

So, with the fire crackling and candles twinkling, students arrived at a dark hall last Friday to recreate the kind of entertainment enjoyed by our ancestors. Julia started the evening with a haunting rendition of Where the Boats Go by Robert Lewis Stevenson  and then introduced her students: Ivan reciting a Robert Frost poem called Nothing Gold Can Stay and Grace with Babysitting by Gillian Clarke.

The bravery of these first performances was a wonderful catalyst for the others. Later on – having decided they were brave enough –  others from Julia’s class also performed: Freya, with Anne Hathaway by Carol Ann Duffy and Lotty, who chose a powerful poem about Greta Thumberg. Our special guest, Clive, spoke the words of an ’80s rock ballad, making them far more profound in the process, and was, of course, cheered to the rafters.

Mary-Liz’s stand-out performances were from Caspar with Do Not Go Gentle by Dylan Thomas, which was impressive in its sophistication, and Seb, who confidently gave us two contrasting poems – one about death and a comic piece written by himself. As head of department, David might be expected to give the most impressive performance of all but, with terrible irony, his carefully rehearsed speech from Hamlet (in which the title character muses on the excellence of human-kind) flew out of his head. Thankfully, his students made up for his memory loss with faultless performances including raucous group singing from Bay, Leo and Kit.

Louise’s rendition of The Raven was followed by some keen performances from her class. Eliza performed Leisure by WH Davis, fully exploring the poignancy of the poem through her interpretation; Sienna gave a powerful version of one of her favourite poems, A Day by Emily Dickenson with confidence and poise; Hendrix lifted our spirits with his confident performance of the amusing poem, The Little Turtle by Vachel Lindsay and Alex approached the task with his signature confidence and performed his poem to great applause.

My own class was represented by Shoshana and Xander, both performing classics of the nonsense genre, The Jabberwocky and The Jumblies which provided welcome relief, I’m sure, after my own version of Jolene, a song I might not have performed quite as well as Dolly Parton herself, though not for want of practice. Jen’s classes were last with honourable mention going in particular to Oscar and his hilarious performance of My New Pet and Roan’s stirring and dramatic version of Dulce et Decorum est.

The evening was rounded off with a soulful Let it Be from Zeb, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar which gave us all a wonderful atmosphere to go out on.

Please do take the opportunity to ask students about their experience of the Fireside Night – they were an amazing and appreciative audience and deserve praise for this as well as their bravery in performing.

‘No plan survives contact with the enemy’

Quoting the German General Moltke rather than John Badley in a ‘beginning of the new school year’ blog might seem unusual, but given the exhaustive planning that has gone into re-opening the Bedales schools this week, an acknowledgement of the importance of planning and strategy seems appropriate. ‘No plan of operations extends with certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy’s main strength’ is often represented in snappier form as ‘no plan survives contact with the enemy’. Having stepped unbidden into the role of senior mask monitor I share Moltke’s view. Day 1 of this much anticipated and much heralded term demonstrated the clash between plans and reality. Badley’s ‘work of each for weal of all’ has been prominently presented at all our beginning of term gatherings to underline how individual actions and decisions can have community wide resonance and consequence. With studied patience I say to an unmasked student squeezing their way through a crowded door, ‘Where’s your mask?’. To which they reply, ‘I don’t have one. I thought the school were supplying them’. Or rather, ‘Work of you for weal of me.’ I reach for my handy stash of disposable medical face masks and hope it might last beyond the end of the lesson.

The essence of the Bedales School rules are enshrined on a board in the corridor around the Quad that all Bedalians shuffle past on their way into the dining room. Badley’s stricture that whatever causes ‘Needless exposure of oneself or others to danger or infection’ has suddenly received extra historic resonance. Those rules pre-date 1942 and the development of penicillin by 40 years. Infection in 1893 could mean death, and the 1918 Spanish ‘Flu pandemic would not have left the Bedales community unscathed. There isn’t any direct reference to Bedales’ students losing their lives due to Spanish ‘Flu, but the fear of the spread of infection, as all seasonal winter ‘flu epidemics can spread, would have been very profound. ‘Coughs and sneezes spread diseases’ would have been as relevant and true then as it is now. So everyone in the Bedales School community: students, teaching staff and support staff across all three schools, some 1,300 souls all in all, have to safeguard and protect each other, from the immune to the vulnerable (who won’t necessarily know who they are).

Bedales School rules

Students, parents and teachers have had so much to endure since the end of March. The panicked decision to close schools and cancel exams, the A level results’ fiasco, and the uncertainty about when and how schools could re-open, were all caused by a dysfunctional government found wanting. At least now within our own school campus, re-imagined as a self-governed city state, we have the opportunity to return to that sacred exchange of teaching and learning that seeks to link ‘head, hand and heart.’

By Magnus Bashaarat, Head of Bedales

Virtual visit to Sadler’s Wells for Chalayan’s ‘Gravity Fatigue’

Gravity-Fatigue

By Lucy Albuquerque, Block 5

We recently took a virtual school trip to go and see Hussein Chalayan’s Gravity Fatigue at Sadler’s Wells Theatre. Gravity Fatigue is a mixture of a dance and fashion show all in one, and this is what makes this show so unique.

As Chalayan is a fashion designer, not a choreographer himself, he worked with Damien Jalet to create the show. Chalayan wanted to show the connection between clothes and movement, and how they work together in space. He uses other ways as well as movement to portray the message to the audience; for example, he explores different floorwork and how the dancers engage with their costumes.

Throughout the show, the lighting stood out to me, as it was used to show a change of dancer or the emotion that Chalayan was trying to embody. Lighting was also used to highlight the direction that dancers moved in – for instance, when a circular spotlight lit up, the dancers turned in a circle as if in a trance, reflecting the shape of the lighting.

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Bedales, biodiversity and lockdown

Biodiversity

By Cheryl Osborne, Teacher of Biology

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.

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