Match report: Girls’ First XI Hockey v Churcher’s College

By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey

There was a sense of nervousness and excitement on the Astro on Wednesday as the girls’ first XI hockey team were back in action after a COVID enforced break. The team knew they had to be ‘switched on’ as they were facing a quality opposition in Churcher’s first XI and the match certainly lived up to expectations with both sides looking to play good hockey. It was Churcher’s who held the majority of attacking possession, but good saves from Tilda Gellatly and some timely interceptions from Shanklin Mackillop-Hall kept the Churcher’s side at bay for the majority of the first half. This, alongside the impressive Alisia Leach and phenomenal work-rate of forwards Mathilda Douglas and Kamaya Nelson Clayton, made for an enthralling encounter.

As the game moved into the second half, an unfortunate deflected own goal put the Churcher’s side 2-0 up. But, by virtue of her ‘do as I do’ approach, captain Esther Stewart kept the team focused and an exceptional stick save from the Churcher’s goalkeeper stopped Mathilda Douglas’ brave attempt to bring Bedales back into the game. As the match progressed, tiredness crept in and an increasing number of opportunities fell to the Churcher’s side – although it is fair to say that without the presence and influence of Rebekah Leach at centre-half, there would have been a greater number of opportunities.

At the final whistle, it was a deserved victory for Churcher’s, but there are a huge amount of positives for the Bedales side to take into the Hampshire U18 Trophy Tournament next week.

Uniting the world to tackle climate change

By Abi Wharton, Head of Geography, Global Perspectives and Politics

The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October – 12 November 2021. The aim of this conference is to bring the world together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

As Alok Sharma, the COP President-Designate states: “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought devastation to millions around the world, disrupting many parts of the global economy. But climate change has continued, and it ultimately threatens life on earth. As countries begin to recover from the Coronavirus pandemic, we must take the historic opportunity to tackle climate change at the same time – to build back better, and greener. And we must. To keep the temperature of the planet under control – limiting its increase to 1.5 degrees – the science dictates that by the second half of the century, we should be producing less carbon than we take out of the atmosphere. This is what reaching ‘net zero’ means. The journey is already underway. Despite the pandemic, the direction of travel is changing. Around 70% of the world economy is now covered by net zero targets, up from less than 30% when the UK took on the Presidency of COP26. The world is moving towards a low carbon future.”

These aims must clearly be considered at a personal, local and national level to be successful globally. We are rightly very proud of our Bedales student body who are all too aware of the impact previous generations have had on the environment, and their responsibility to do more, and quickly, to protect the planet. Across the curriculum, students are conducting innovative academic research to prepare them to be the change makers of the future. Geography BAC students study a bespoke module on climate change unlike any other course at this level in the UK, and the Block 3 collaborative project between Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (PRE) and Geography focuses on ‘Who made my clothes?’, tackling globalisation, the winners and losers of a globalised economy, and the ethical implications of business practices on people and the environment. In Pre-U Global Perspectives students have chosen to research topics such as ‘The effect of COVID-19 on consumerism’ and ‘Is sustainability in the fashion industry sustainable?’ In tandem with this, students from across the year groups continue to be involved in a range of activities to raise awareness about the urgent need to do more.

As a prelude to the global conference taking place in Glasgow, East Hampshire MP Damian Hinds, in conjunction with East Hampshire District Council, has organised a local climate conference focusing on the action that can be taken locally to accelerate decarbonisation. The conference, which will involve Bedales students, will take place on Friday 8 October at The Maltings in Alton, to which everyone is invited. More information can be found on Damian Hinds’ website here and tickets can be booked here.

‘Enriching’ human rights conference

By Maya Muller, 6.2

On 21 September, Bedales students had the opportunity to attend the Stand Up Free and Equal Conference, which due to COVID was held virtually in the SLT. It was not only an enriching experience, but one that provided us with transformative insight on how to not only not be racist, but to be actively anti-racist.

The conference included speakers such as Lee Lawrence, author of The Louder I Sing; artist and educator Linett Kamala; student activist Sophie Kabangu; retired headteacher and educational consultant Tom Wilson; and eight-year-old Nylah Abitimo-Jones.

Lee shared his tragic yet inspiring story on how he witnessed the almost fatal shooting of his mother in his own home by a white police officer. His moving speech stressed the importance of restorative justice, and how the road to fighting racism should include conversation and understanding rather than just objective punishment. He provided us with valuable insight on how to best communicate our unconscious biases, and how to work on re-configuring our perceptions and attitudes on race. He stated that “injustice perpetuates because there is a misunderstanding of what racism means…racism is not simply prejudice, racism is prejudice plus power”. The idea of racism being fundamentally rooted in a power imbalance is one that can be observed in his own, real life experience of having the police exploit their power over his family.

Nylah presented her powerful poem, Black, and her young age did not stop her from delivering a moving and inspiring performance. She celebrated the beauty of her own culture, as well as rejecting Eurocentric beauty standards and bringing to light the micro-aggressions of having people, for example, constantly touch her hair. It was an evocative speech that allowed us to realise that even at such a young age, she had been forced to mature to a level where she must be aware of people treating her differently for her race.

The speeches were both informative and empowering, and allowed for us as students to really immerse ourselves in the process of simply listening to the experiences of the speakers, and to learn and recognise our own privilege and biases.

‘Enlightening’ Round Square International Conference

By Ben Bradberry, 6.2

Over the past week, I have been joined by three other students in virtually attending the Round Square International Conference. This is an annual conference held with the goal of engaging students in prominent social issues that will effect the world they grow up in, with this year being focused on the topic of ‘Blue Skies and Brave Conversations’. Over the course of four days, we learnt about topics ranging from ethical leadership to the variety of identities that are attributed to people.
 
The conference was made up of three main sections. Each day, student delegates met with representatives of other school to discuss how our schools address the issues being discussed by each days topic. While this was happening, there were also cultural performance from schools or short documentaries to broaden the perspectives of students. From here, we went on to watch a discussion between keynote speakers, where they were questioned by students on how they view the various topics of discussion. Lastly, we joined other schools in smaller Zoom meetings so that individual students could voice their opinions on what was discussed and engage in a productive conversation on how we can improve the world we live in.
 
Ultimately, it has been an immensely enlightening experience as I personally have learned far more than I could ever have expected to. The goal of these conferences is to innovate how students learn, and I’m sure that the other delegates from Bedales can confirm that this year’s conference has succeeded. From learning about how other cultures operate to the way the world should run, we have all taken a lot from the past week and have gained an equal number of ideas to think about.

The ethics of buying a smartphone

By Clare Jarmy, Acting Deputy Head (Academic)

In Jaw this week, I spoke about the ethics of buying smartphones. Having recently broken my own phone, I described the dilemma I faced when I came to replacing it. I talked about an event I attended here at Bedales a few years ago, where former Head of BBC News James Harding explained that most of the cobalt found in lithium-ion batteries – the rechargeable batteries found in all smartphones – is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where men, women and children endure dangerous and unhealthy conditions to source the element for mobile devices. This essentially means that quite a lot of us carry around with us in our pockets something that is the product of child labour.
 
All of this had left me wondering how I can work in a school, and care for some people’s children, whilst ignoring the plight of others. That, in turn, got me thinking about an excellent book I’ve read – The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer – which argues that although we can often feel helpless to solve global issues, we actually have a moral obligation to do something, and we should really be thinking of these global problems as our problems. If we wouldn’t think twice about rescuing a child drowning in a pond immediately in front of us, why are we reluctant to do our bit to help children in danger several thousand miles away? For me, it felt disingenuous to live a life based around caring for children, whilst ignoring other children, just because they’re far away.
 
I also touched upon other important issues to consider, such as the sustainability of resources used to produce smartphones, and widespread concerns about the working conditions and pay of those producing them. Use of smartphones has risen exponentially over the last few years, and as they become a staple of everyday life and use continues to rise, the ethical impact of what we do with smartphones will become more significant.
 
I asked students to consider the ethical weight of their smart phone. What are they carrying in their pocket? What is the moral dilemma they should face when they think about replacing their smartphone? What can they do? Addressing the advantages and disadvantages of each, I presented a range of options, from keeping a particular handset for longer than the original contract or buying a reconditioned, second-hand phone, to buying a phone from an ethical brand, such as Freephone or Teracube, who work to ensure fairer supply chains, use recycled materials, and pay fair wages.
 
We are a long way from a perfect solution, but I hope my talk has encouraged students to start thinking about these issues and, when they next come to replace their smartphone, consider the ethical weight of the phone they choose. As for me? For Christmas, I’m going to ask for my iPhone to be repaired.

Block 3 adventure

By Greg Clarke, Teacher of Maths and Block 3 Tutor

This year’s intake of Block 3 – plus their form tutors and Head of Transition Clive Burch – spent last week at Cobnor Activities Centre on Chichester Harbour in West Sussex. The week is designed to assimilate the students as they settle into Bedales, with camping, an expedition, and a range of outdoor pursuits – plus plenty of card games, snacking and UNO – helping everybody enjoy the bracing coastal air, reacquaint with old friends after the summer and find lots of new friends with whom to enjoy the next few years at Bedales.

At various times in the week every group enjoyed kayaking, canoeing and sailing around the bay in a Hawk, working as a team to launch their craft from the little jetty. We also built rafts to race one another in, crafted from wooden posts and plastic barrels lashed together with ropes knotted into bowlines and half-hitches. I’ll leave you to imagine how sturdy one or two of those rafts were.

For landlubbers there was archery with the instructor who had a keen interest in history, aeroball (think of vertical basketball on a trampoline inside a cage, if you can), and practice at all the camping skills necessary for the expedition: pitching a tent; lighting a stove; cooking pasta in a mess tin; bending tent pegs; and packing a rucksack.

The expedition was a tough two days’ worth of hiking along the South Downs Way, in what turned out to be glorious sunshine that lifted spirits, drained sunscreen supplies and provided vital vitamin D for sustained walking. On my night at the campsite at Cocking, folk from the RAF entertained us all with several flypasts and stunts in their Chinook, and I feasted upon a gourmet pasta pesto (topped with parmesan) prepared by a team of Block 3 chefs.

After a lot of fun, by Friday afternoon there ensued a frantic all-hands-on-deck clean up and pack up to leave Cobnor looking miraculously even tidier than when we arrived. A big well done to everybody for surviving the rollercoaster up-and-South-Downs experience that was Cobnor 2021.

See photos from the Block 3 induction trip to Cobnor here.

New Academic Dons announced

By Clare Jarmy, Acting Deputy Head (Academic)

Congratulations to this year’s Academic Dons, who were announced last week.

Dons are student leaders, associated with academic departments and other important areas of the school, such as the Library and Theatre. As student spokespeople for a department, Dons represent the student body’s views to the relevant Head of Department, as well as offer subject specific help and advice to younger students at the senior school.

It is a genuine delight for us to see so many students showing such energy and enthusiasm for the different areas of school life, and we thank them in advance for the work they will do with teachers in supporting the academic life of the school.

The full list of this year’s Dons is as follows:

  • Art – Georgie De Boulay
  • Biology – Nina Jones
  • Business Studies – Maria Timokhina
  • Chemistry – Isabella McGrath
  • Classics – Annie Lawes
  • Dance – Mathilda Douglas
  • Design (Product) – Oskar De Aragues
  • Digital Game Design/Maths – Raef McNaughten
  • Drama – Jessica Asamoa
  • Economics – Harry Hornsby
  • English – Maya Muller
  • Fashion Design – Phoebs Esdaile
  • French – Alisia Leach
  • Geography – Fleur Donovan
  • Global Awareness – Sacha Weisz Brassay
  • History – Taragh Melwani
  • Library – Anton Lucas
  • Maths – Annabelle Snell
  • Music – Tiger Braun-White
  • Music (Contemporary) – Monty Bland
  • Outdoor Work – Lila Levingston
  • Photography – Poppy Kingsley-Pallant
  • Physics – Hux Green
  • Politics – Thomas Figgins
  • Philosophy, Religion and Ethics – Amos Wollen
  • Psychology – Lily Brough
  • Round Square – Amelia Smith, Ben Bradberry, Nina Solovieva
  • Spanish – Anna Sukhikh
  • Sport – Shanklin MacKillop-Hall
  • Theatre (Crew and Wardrobe) – Caelan Edward and Aria Taheri Murphy
  • 3i – Zakhar Gabriadze

John Locke Institute Summer School

By Eben Macdonald, 6.1 and Academic Scholar

Over the summer holidays, I had the privilege of attending the John Locke Institute Summer School at Balliol College, Oxford, to study an academic course in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE). Competition for a place on the summer schools is intense, and to be considered for a place, we had to write a resumé and attend an interview (via Zoom, of course), where we were asked to articulate our most controversial idea and defend it against the interviewer, who challenged us rigorously.

At the summer school, we were put into small groups and our day consisted of three kinds of lessons: seminars, which were lessons with professors, in our groups; lectures delivered by professors, which all groups attended together; and critical response precepts, where we discussed recent lectures in our groups.

We enjoyed the presence of some fascinating people – Bryan Caplan, Professor of Economics at George Mason University; David Schmidt and Cate Johnson, two world-renowned experimental economists; John Filling, Doctor of Philosophy at King’s College, Cambridge; and Jamie Whyte, a philosophy PhD and former leader of ACT New Zealand. We even got to meet the former Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbot!

The faculty never failed to give exciting and, often, provocative lectures. I really enjoyed discussing them with the intellectually vibrant student body.  

At the end of the course, we went to the Oxford Union to be subjected to Bryan Caplan’s Ideological Turing Test – where we’d have to argue for or against a certain proposition, regardless of our actual position on it, and if the student body believed we were genuinely arguing our true position, we’d have shown we were able to accurately represent a view which we had not necessarily agreed with. 

The summer school was a life-changing experience for me and I urge people to register next year.

New and improved Petersfield Museum

This article was originally published in the Old Bedalian Newsletter 2021.

By Alice Shaw (née Sedgwick, 1992 – 1999)

Alice and Lead Trustee Bill Gosney (far left) and the construction directors, July 2019

After spending most of my time in the Bedales Art Block, I left in 1999 to study Art History at the University of York followed by a Masters in Museum Studies at the University of Essex. I always knew I wanted to be around art but was realistic about my own abilities not to rely on making a living from it!

After graduating I worked at the British Museum and V&A in temporary exhibitions, then at the Science Museum on permanent galleries and capital projects. In 2015, my family and I left London and moved back to Steep in search of space and fresh air for our two young boys. At this point it felt inevitable that my career in museums would be put on hold while our family grew up.

Soon after, however, I heard that the local Petersfield Museum, which opened the year I left Bedales, had recently purchased the adjoining Police Station. It also received a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to renovate its existing building in the Old Courthouse, and design and build new galleries, collections facilities, exhibition and learning spaces and a courtyard café. I felt strongly that this project and I shared a destiny, and was delighted to be appointed as Project Manager in December 2016.

My job was to engage and lead a design team to deliver the museum’s vision of being at the heart of local life and also offer a compelling attraction for visitors from further afield. The historic Victorian buildings combined with striking architecture will create welcoming social areas and stimulating learning spaces. It will be a family friendly space that will inspire visitors of all ages to investigate the region’s many historic and cultural assets and to explore the surrounding countryside.

During the design development process, it was proposed that a map of the South Downs National Park be inlaid into the surface of the courtyard. This is made of granite slabs showing Petersfield and surrounding villages represented by brass and stainless steel icons. Some will be easily recognisable to those who know the area but some are more obscure so accompanying interpretation will be used as a guide to explore this striking artwork and the local area. This was all designed pre-COVID, but now offers a safe way to access the museum in an outdoor setting. Visitors can enter the cosy courtyard for a coffee and enjoy the wide-ranging, engaging collections and diverse educational and events programmes.

The team celebrate the end of construction, November 2020

The new and improved Petersfield Museum will tell the story of this ancient market town and surrounding villages through objects, art, literature and dress produced or collected by its residents. The collection includes the work of local artist Flora Twort and archaeology from prehistoric barrows on Petersfield Heath. Forming a significant part of the collection is The Bedales Collection of Historic Dress donated to the museum in 2007. This includes over 1,000 items from the 18th century to modern day and was built up over a 50-year period by the school, and particularly by music and drama teacher Rachel Cary Field (staff, 1941 – 1975).

The collection mirrors 250 years of social and cultural change and includes rare and nationally significant pieces, including an item recently loaned to the Design Museum for the ‘Women Fashion Power’ exhibition. A number of garments have strong local provenance and the great majority of the collection formed part of the Bedales Wardrobe.

Of the dresses, an aesthetic, Liberty style, cream silk dress from the mid-1890s is particularly rare, as are comparable Arts and Crafts garments from the early 1900s. Such ‘countercultural garments’ survive in small numbers, with the V&A, Museum of London and Platt Hall, Manchester holding most of the few surviving examples.

The museum also holds a nationally important collection of some 2,000 books by and about the renowned poet, writer and Steep resident, Edward Thomas (1878-1917). Like so many others, and this is still so true today, the Thomas family were attracted to this area by three things: its direct rail link to London, its countryside and, of course, Bedales, which Edward’s wife Helen knew of before it relocated from Haywards Heath in the early 20th century.

The Poet’s Stone

The collection is held within a new Edward Thomas Study Centre which is open, by appointment, to students, readers, researchers and visitors, who can explore his work and then the wonderful landscape around us that inspired him, and many others, so much – and continues to do so. Edward Thomas is amongst the War Poets commemorated in Westminster Abbey. The Poet Laureate Ted Hughes considered Thomas to be “the Father of us all”, and his life and work is included in the National Curriculum. Thomas’ time living in Steep coincides with a critical phase in his life when he made the transition from literary critic to poet.

Thomas’ connections to Petersfield are important to understanding his life and work, which features and interprets the countryside of Hampshire, the South Downs and the south of England. Amongst items on display, or available to view, in the Edward Thomas Study Centre is a copy of one of his daughter’s Bedales exercise books, in which he has drafted three poems.

The Petersfield Museum’s courtyard, looking across to the café and Edward Thomas Study Centre

In the museum’s final gallery, visitors can see a film of original footage shot on location in Petersfield and the surrounding area, capturing the local diversity of architecture, history, landscape, wildlife and culture. This includes shots of both the Harrow Inn and views from the Poet’s Stone, which many of you will be familiar with. The stone is a memorial to Edward Thomas, which is still the subject of regular walks from both the main school and Dunhurst and Dunannie.

What makes this film so special, emotive and rooted in the area, is that it is overlaid with a recording of Daniel Day-Lewis (1970 – 1975) reading Thomas’ poetry, the use of which was permitted by the Poetry Archive.

Like so many things, the pandemic has delayed the opening of the museum, but we very much hope that doors will open to the public later this year. Working at the London national museums was infinitely inspiring, exciting and challenging, but having the chance to be part of the team to create a museum in my hometown, is a dream come true.

The new and improved Petersfield Museum opened to the public in June 2021. Tickets can be booked in advance online at the Petersfield Museum website, or at the Welcome Desk as you arrive at the museum. The museum is open Wednesday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm, and Sundays and August Bank Holiday, 11am – 4pm.

Standing for Steep Parish Council

By Andrew Martin, Head of Outdoor Work

Bedales has a long and proud association with Steep Parish Council. Over the years many members of our Bedalian community have been elected councillors and this year I am currently in the running to join them…

For the last seven years I’ve lived on the Bedales estate where I manage the school farm and teach Outdoor Work. Steep is where I live and work and where my children go to school.

One of the key things I teach our students is how to live and work together. Whilst we devote much time to environmental aspects such as animal husbandry, farm-to-fork education, planting hedgerows, growing, land management and traditional craftsmanship, we also look at the social aspects too. These include how to live respectfully and happily in a close-knit community.

It has been a difficult few years for our village. Not just because of the pandemic, but also because of deep rifts over the Church Road land and the proposed development which has divided this wonderful Steep community of ours, which Bedales is very much part of.

Sitting on my couch getting cross with a Brazilian president about the Amazon rain forest is easy. Taking the time to meet with the parish council in a public consultation about the future of a patch of land requires some degree of effort. However if we encourage our students to ask questions, challenge ideas, to consider alternative views, listen to others and develop their own thinking. Then certainly I need to live what I preach…

I think I could contribute to an effective, sustainable solution, however there is a lot more to our community than this one, polarising issue.

For example, what could we do for our amazing Steep School? What could we do about traffic calming and making the roads safer? Access to green spaces? Strengthening the relationship between the schools, nurseries, and local residents? How could we build relationships between the young and the old?

I would like to help bring the community together, which is why I’m asking people to vote for me in the forthcoming Steep Parish elections.

I have a deep commitment to this community and a strong desire to see it come back together. I would love to be given the chance to make a difference in it. I believe I could put this experience to great use on the parish council.

Only a small number of you may be eligible to vote in these elections, however every little helps. Vote for me on July 15!