Celebrating the ‘head, hand and heart’ experience

By Laura Greene, Block 5 BPA Rep & BPA Gatherings

This week saw the third and final Bedales Parents’ Association (BPA) gathering of the school year with a talk entitled ‘Bedales Outside the Classroom: Delivering the Head, Hand and Heart Experience’ (watch a recording of the talk here).
 
Lead by Deputy Head (Operational and Co-Curricular) Phil Tattersall-King, we were also joined by Spencer Leach (Director of Sport), Doug McIlwraith (Director of Music) and Jess Warren (Head of Psychology and Enrichment), along with two current Bedales students, Kam Nelson-Clayton (Block 5) and Jess Asamoa (6.1).
 
We looked at what’s on offer across the unique and far-reaching Bedales landscape outside of the classroom curriculum, and why these activities form such a vital part of the holistic Bedales experience for students and their families. We also delved into the need to strike the right balance between the compulsory and optional provision of music, sport, theatre and the myriad other opportunities available during a student’s time at Bedales.
 
The BPA are grateful to the team for giving us their time and energy and we’re so looking forward to holding more events like this one in the coming school year. Some online gatherings for those who can’t make it into school will remain, but we’re thrilled to start planning to gather together in person once again too!
 
One of the best takeaways from this week’s talk for me was the prospect of so many exciting events already lined up on the imminent school calendar that showcase the richness of our school’s co-curricular programme, with orchestral concerts, plays and dance recitals, the Rock Show and of course Parents’ Day all coming up before the end of this Summer Term. We look forward to seeing you around the campus and enjoying all that makes Bedales such a special place to be, together.

New Drama production available to watch online

By Hayley Cole, Head of Drama

At the end of another busy half term for Drama, I wanted to take the opportunity to praise student achievements and share news of projects about to be shared.

Machinal by Sophie Treadwell will be released daily episode by episode from Friday. The Spring Production started at home, and we wanted to share it with you at home. Rehearsals took place online and students were filmed individually. The footage was then edited into the nine-episode play. To access the links, visit the Bedales Events page. The whole show will be available for one week after all of the episodes have been released, in case you need to catch up or would prefer to binge watch!

The Summer Production, Chariots of Fire, is now well underway, and rehearsals are filling the Theatre and the Quad with energetic Block 3 and 4 students. We look forward to sharing this spectacular show with you on Parents’ Day or in the evening performances preceding it. Book tickets here.

Our Wednesday workshops have continued, and we have had the pleasure of working with Kate Winslet, Ben Muir and Martha Dancy on characterisation, dialect, the Meisner Technique and preparing for a career in the Arts. Martha, alongside the department, supported the 6.2s who applied for drama school this year. I am thrilled to share that August Janklow has received a place at East 15 on the Acting and Contemporary Theatre course and Nay Murphy has a place at the School Jacques LeCoq in Paris, alongside being shortlisted and awaiting final lists from Royal Central and Bristol Old Vic. We are incredibly proud of their achievements and Martha and I look forward to supporting the 6.1s with similar aspirations in their applications next year.

Nay was also longlisted in the National Theatre’s New Views playwriting competition, which you read about in an earlier Bulletin this term. It is a phenomenal achievement, considering the 600 plus applications. This competition is the culmination of the Playwriting enrichment course we run in Drama, and it is an excellent opportunity for those who want to refine their technique or try playwriting with teacher-led sessions and visits from a professional playwright.

Our other enrichment course is Student Directing and I am pleased that, having been temporarily halted during lockdown, the two plays are due to be realised in performance next half term. Nay is directing his play, The Definition of Charisma, and August is directing Sam Shepherd’s True West

Intrepid Bedalians complete Bronze DofE Expedition 

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English and DofE Manager

Last weekend, the team from the approved activity provider Ridgeline Adventures returned to run a two-day Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Bronze Expedition from Bedales to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park.
 
On Saturday morning, 33 Block 3 students walked out of Bedales in five groups for the first leg of the expedition to Duncombe Farm, East Meon. Each group, supported by an assessor from Ridgeline Adventures, had planned a different route to East Meon, which is around 2.5 hours from Bedales in a straight-line distance.
 
Although each of the groups were required to pass the Seven Stars pub on the A272 as part of their journey, the different routes they followed varied their experiences, as one group – who found themselves lost en route, and were forced to backtrack to get back on course – can testify! There were other challenges, too, such as loose soles on one student’s walking boots, which she successfully repaired after improvising with some duct tape. With the first group arriving at Duncombe Farm at 3.30pm, and the last group arriving at 6.30pm, the first day proved that you don’t always need to travel far for an adventure.
 
After camping overnight in East Meon, early morning birdsong at 3.30am provided an unwelcome wake-up call on day two. However, despite the birds’ morning chorus, the start of the day was deferred until 5.30am, when one student decided it was time to start dismantling his tent ready for the second part of his journey – much to the exasperation of his campmates!
 
Once everyone was up for the day, the students continued onward on their expedition to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, ploughing their energy into scaling Butser Hill from the North side. On reaching the top, groups were met by assessors for a debrief, before they triumphantly walked down to meet the school minibuses and parents in the Visitor Centre car park. “How long will it take us to get back to school?” a student asked me as we reached our destination, to which I replied it would take around 10 minutes. “We’ve only travelled 10 minutes?!” was his bewildered response.
 
Thank you to everyone who made the weekend a success – the enthusiastic Block 3 students, the exceptional team from Ridgeline Adventures, and accompanying Bedales staff Gordon Dale, Clive Burch and Paul Beauchamp. This weekend it is the turn of Block 4 & 5 students as they complete their Silver Practice Expedition, also with Ridgeline Adventures.

Reflections on the NCEM Young Composers Award

An original composition by a Block 3 student Shoshana was recently shortlisted in the National Centre for Early Music (NCEM)’s Young Composers Award 2021. After performing her composition in the final on 13 May, Shoshana reflects here on her experience in the competition. Listen to Shoshana’s composition, ‘Dancing Through Time’, here.

By Shoshana Yugin-Power, Block 3

When I first heard about the NCEM Young Composers Award, I knew I had to enter for the chance to meet my favourite ensemble, Palisander. As a recorder player myself, I was keen to rise to the challenge to create a piece of dance music for four recorders.

The brief was broad and any dance music was allowed. I was inspired by the numerous YouTube videos I watched in lockdown of things changing rapidly through time – such as fashion, dance and music – and was particularly interested in the idea of the transition between the styles. My goal was to meet Palisander in person by being shortlisted for the final, but I never imagined that would really happen! I was thrilled to be contacted by NCEM to say I was in the final, after they had selected my piece from 68 other entries.

After numerous lockdowns and months when social distancing and bubbles had prevented orchestras and ensembles from gathering, it was with real excitement that I made my way to the city of York, home of the National Centre of Early Music, for the final earlier this month. Once I arrived in York (by train – I enjoyed every moment of the journey, including delays, as public transport in itself is something of a novelty at the moment), I made my way to St Margaret’s Church.

I was one of five finalists in the Under 18 category of the competition, which was sponsored by BBC Radio 3. I spent the day listening to the other finalists’ pieces and attending engaging workshops led by Dr Christopher Fox and Palisander. I was amazed with the standard of the other finalists and it was fascinating to see their interpretation of the brief.  The moment I heard the winning entry in the Under 18 category, I knew it would be the winner – even before I heard the others. It was the dance of swallows in a murmuration.

In the workshop, I had to present my piece and work with Palisander to develop it even further. I learnt so much about how to negotiate changes to my piece to suit the players and how to present my work confidently. In the evening, there was a private concert involving all the young composers’ pieces as well as several pieces from Palisander’s repertoire.

The whole day was an incredible experience. Not only has enabled me to see myself as a composer, but I made many new friends and contacts, the winning composer gave me a copy of the winning entry to play with my recorder friends, and I am already writing my next piece with much more confidence than I previously had.

Supporting positive mental health

By Laura Wells, School Nurse

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, the Health Centre would like to highlight some great resources for children and their parents, ranging from local charities to nationwide organisations.

We recognise that following this last year’s events, everyone is in a different place concerning their mental health and if you are looking for any information on specific conditions, support networks or wellbeing information please look at the websites and phone numbers below. We are always open to be contacted by parents or students for further support or signposting to relevant organisations at bedaleshealthcentre@bedales.org.uk.

Young Minds, the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health, has information for parents here. Parents/caregivers can also contact Young Minds via their helpline (0808 802 5544) or by email (parents@youngminds.co.uk).

Hope Line UK is a confidential support and advice service for children and young people under the age of 35 who are experiencing thoughts of suicide, or anyone concerned that a young person could be thinking about suicide. Contact their helpline (0800 068 4141), send a text (07860039967) or email them (pat@papyrus-uk.org).

Sane is a leading mental health charity with a range of information and resources available on their website and a helpline (07984 967708) operated by professionals and trained volunteers.

Rethink is a charity helping to improve the lives of people severely affected by mental illness through our network of local groups, services and expert information. 

Mind offers information and support for anyone living with or supporting someone with a mental health condition. Their website includes information for young people aged 11-18 here.

Headspace is an app designed to improve the health and happiness of the world through meditation mindfulness. The app is free to try, and you can subscribe for full access to meditations and mindfulness exercises covering everything from negative self-talk to how to improve motivation.

No Limits is a an award-winning, Hampshire-based, independent charity providing a unique combination of prevention, early intervention and crisis support to young people. Details about their virtual services, drop-ins and support groups can be found on their website.

Mermaids is a charity supporting gender-diverse kids, young people and their families. Their website includes information for young people and parents/caregivers.

Dialogue for Change

By the Bedales Pastoral Team

Following the publication of testimonies on the Everyone’s Invited website, harrowing reports in the media and student action in the Spring Term, Bedales students and staff began working on a process called ‘Dialogue for Change’.
 
As a school that prides itself on equality and on a strong student voice, it is so important that we ensure the many different opinions within the conversation of sexual violence and harassment are heard in a safe and honest space.
 
‘Dialogue for Change’ is our community response to the campaign. However, to ensure we move forward as a community with a clear direction – where all our voices are represented – we recognise that a slow, deliberate process of dialogue is required. Working on reconciliation and peace building, facilitating discussions of challenging and emotional topics, and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to speak takes time, patience and bravery.
 
The process has been divided into four phases. We are currently in Phase 1, of sharing and listening to differing points of view with mutual acknowledgement. ‘Dialogue for Change’ has been discussed in assembly, students have received a questionnaire, with half of all students responding, and there have been opportunities for safe conversations in different groups and forums throughout this half of the term. Next week, students in Blocks 3 and 4 will have extended tutor times to explore two key topics – ‘just a joke’ and ‘the bystander effect’ – with similar sessions for Block 5 and 6.1 before half term.
 
This will lead us into Phase 2, where we will reflect on each other’s experience, and set up a working party to respond to the issues raised next academic year. In Phase 3, to be completed by the end of the Summer Term, we will consider what common goals and values we share and what immediate changes can be made. Finally, in Phase 4, we will work on building the confidence of each party so all feel they are being heard. This will be an exploratory phase of trying new things and building projects, ideas and solutions, and establishing how we take this forward into the next academic year.
 
We believe this is a unique opportunity for us to help facilitate genuine, open and honest dialogue amongst students, for them to find their voices and engage with such an important topic, and to help drive it forward into real positive change.

First impressions

By Will Goldsmith, Deputy Head (Academic)

Starting a new school presents challenges and starting a new school mid-year more so, but starting a new school in a global pandemic feels like throwing yourself in at the deep end. And yet, here I am, just over three weeks in to my first term at Bedales and the water’s lovely. 

I have been ‘courting’ Bedales for three years and am excited to have arrived. For me, the most immediately powerful thing I’ve appreciated has been the people who have made me feel so welcome: students, staff, parents and the local community in Steep and beyond.  

Something I was inspired by three years ago when I first visited and I’m delighted to see very much alive today is the spirit of the students here. For example, in my first (online) assembly, I introduced myself and asked the students to say hello to me as I walked around the campus; I was candid enough to confess to feeling a little nervous, being a new arrival. Some might have thought it unwise to admit such blatant vulnerability to an adolescent audience; however Bedales is no ordinary school and, for the next week, I was treated to delightful greetings from students of all ages. Outwith their warmth and kindness, I’ve had many interesting discussions with students on topics as diverse as prohibition, gender and whether or not we need school rules. I am filled with excitement about working with such lively and engaged young people. 

I’ve been equally delighted to meet colleagues with whom I have so much in common, both in terms of our professional values, but also our broader concerns and beliefs. It’s been fun, for example, getting to know Andrew and his team in Outdoor Work who’ve taught me about their late-night vigils watching over the pregnant sheep, introduced me to Favour and Tasty (two of the delightful school cows) and finding myself amused at the sunburnt piglets grunting away in the spring sunshine. I also loved celebrating Beltane around a camp fire, while wearing a crown of ivy.  

My new colleagues have patiently talked me through their work and begun teaching me the poetic, if baffling, vocabulary of the place. I can confidently say that I know the quickest way to ‘Peef’ and have enjoyed my first ‘Jaw’. David over in the English department has already shared with me some insights to Edward Thomas’ time living and working at the school which have brought his poems to life anew. I’ve even been able to sing in the church choir (socially distanced and COVID-safe, of course).  

In the classroom, I’m particularly excited about the work we’re doing on project-based learning with our Block 3 students – something we’ll be finessing next year now that we’ve run nearly a full cycle of our new venture into cross-curricular learning. I’m also loving the variety and depth of our BACs which are now in the final stages of moderation. 

While there is so much to enjoy about living in Hampshire at a school like Bedales, there are, of course, challenges: coming out of lockdown and slowly reducing the measures in place to combat COVID-19 is particularly frustrating for a school which values so highly the interpersonal (handshaking is still not allowed); our Block 5 and 6.2 students are working their way valiantly through the final weeks of assessments to provide evidence for their GCSE and A Level grades; and we do not underestimate the time it will take to bring our whole community fully back together again. Luckily, with the people, the environment and the traditions that make up this school, we are ready to make the most of what we have here.  

For me, it is such a privilege to already feel part of this community and I’m so excited about the months and years to come. 

Outdoor Work Summer update

By Andrew Martin, Head of Outdoor Work

It’s only been two months since my last update on the farm, yet it seems a small lifetime ago as so much has happened. We finished our first wave of lambing just in time for the Easter holidays, which produced a healthy flock of 22 new lambs. As the majority of these lambs are Jacob ewes crossed with a Southdown ram, they should reach a finished weight this autumn and will be ready for sale then.

We are currently mid-way through our second wave of lambing with our Jacob sheep, which has also produced 22 lambs (and counting). These are currently in Butts field, on the right as you drive into school. Our pure Jacob flock differs greatly from the earlier flock as they are much slower growers. They have a unique fleece and are a beautiful breed to work with.

Each year during lambing we hope to find the next star ewe lamb who has all the desired traits that make up the strict characteristics of a pure Jacob. All those who don’t quite make the cut and all the males are kept for about 14-18 months before they reach their desired size and weight. Teaching our students about where meat comes from and how long it takes to produce it is integral to discussions about food, the choices we make, and the impact those choices have on our environment.

Our beautiful Dexter herd arrived in March and has been a great hit with the students. One of the primary reasons for getting them was to build on the therapeutic side of animal husbandry. The cows have gone from being a little wary at the start, to being friendly and interested in us. They are all happy on a halter (most days!) and walk really well with their student handlers. We have the cows grazing alongside our ewes and lambs which makes a beautiful sight.

On 11 April, Favour, our pregnant Dexter cow had to have an emergency caesarean. Her calf was presenting in such a way that she could not deliver it herself. It is at least 25 years since I’ve seen the procedure carried out and it was as dramatic and impressive to witness as I first remember. Unfortunately, despite the amazing skills of the vet, the calf was stillborn. Favour was heroic throughout and is making a speedy recovery.

For years now we have been slowly developing the large field opposite the Dunhurst entrance (part of which was a football pitch). Over the Easter break we made the biggest change yet and thanks to a local contractor we split the field into four smaller fields averaging 3.2 acres each. Between each field we have left a corridor for hedging and trees to be planted.

There is enough space for around 1700 hedge plants and 30 trees, six of which we have already planted. This area alone will create much needed habitat for dwindling wildlife. One of the new fields is naturally wet and has the potential to be developed into a habitat that will support many more plant and animal species. (I can see a whole school effort on the cards!!)

Elsewhere on the farm, we have now sold 15 of the 18 piglets born earlier in spring. The pigs go to local families and village pig syndicates who rear them over a six-eight month period. We have also over seeded a small field with a herbal ley for the first time, this is to create a more diverse environment within our field and to provide more mineral and trace elements to the pasture as well as medicinal qualities for our livestock. As the soil warms up and the trees and hedgerows fill out we are looking forward to the beauty that the land provides on our very own farm.

April has proved to be a very challenging month. There has been a record number of frosty mornings and no rain to kick start the grass growth we so desperately depend on at this time of year. It’s not often you hear farmers praying for rain, but if you listen really carefully this year you just might!

We are still on the look out for a pony or donkey. If you hear of any safe, reliable animals (preferably one that can pull a cart, although not essential), please do let us know. 

For the latest updates from Outdoor Work, make sure you’re following us on Instagram and Twitter.

Preparing for expedition

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English and DofE Manager

Last weekend we were joined by Isaac Walker and his team from outdoor education provider Ridgeline Adventures, who ran a successful Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) training weekend in the sunshine for Bedales students undertaking their Bronze Award.
 
On Saturday, students took part in a range of team building activities at the Sam Banks Pavilion. Gordon Dale, Clive Burch, Paul Beauchamp and I were there to see Ridgeline lead the various sections, which saw the students put up tents in a fairly strong breeze, cooked lunch on Trangias, washed up (a skill that always needs perfecting!), discussed first aid scenarios, learnt to tie slings, planned the routes they will use on their Bronze qualifying weekend in three weeks’ time and learnt how to read maps of the local Hampshire countryside.
 
On Sunday, the students headed out for a walk in Steep Nature Reserve in five groups of five or six. An opportunity to explore the school’s picturesque surroundings (“I didn’t expect it to be so pretty,” were one student’s words; another said it was simply “stunning”), the day was also insightful. Students quickly learnt the importance of rucksacks rather than shoulder bags, and they stopped en route to explore first aid scenarios and navigate carefully. Group 4 particularly enjoyed meeting Magnus’ dogs on the Hangers!
 
The Block 3 students who took part in the weekend were attentive and enthusiastic throughout, and there were many memorable moments: Otto Scarlett’s delicious, and enormously popular pancakes; Dominic Rowell looking a little like a mummy as he wandered around covered in bandages after a fun first aid session; and Tilly Wall spontaneously commenting that their group leader from Ridgeline Adventures, Neil, was incredible and thanking him for a great day’s walk.
 
Thank you to everyone who made the weekend a success and I look forward to accompanying the students on an expedition very soon.

Students reflect on presenting their EPQs

By Jo Mayhook-Walker, Head of EAL and Extended Projects Coordinator

Last week, 18 Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) projects were presented to an audience made up of students and staff. For me, it was an educational and invigorating experience, but how was it for the students? This week, five students who gave presentations share their thoughts.

Nina Jones, 6.1

Last week I presented my EPQ, titled A Thoroughbred’s life, how dangerous is it really? The process of presenting was much more rewarding and less stressful than I had initially thought; I felt that it was an important experience for me in order to build my public speaking skills and conclude my project. Prior to writing my dissertation, I put in a lot of time to research, ensuring that I was confident in the topic. This allowed me to answer the questions with ease. Within my presentation, I talked about my inspiration for my project, how I completed my research, the development, the content, and finally, an evaluation. The evaluation in particular helped me see the strengths and weaknesses of the process and the project itself and taught me valuable skills such as time management and sticking to a word count. I found that the feedback which I received after presenting was very beneficial, and I hope that I can transfer these skills into diverse areas of my academic and work life.  

Jamie Loudon, 6.1

For my EPQ I decided to record and write a song. When I started, I was completely new to the process so I had to learn how to do everything. The first thing I had to do was choose a music production software. I did this by looking at reviews of lots of really good music software packages. I ended up picking a software called Ableton and I then learned how to use it using YouTube tutorials. I took what I learned and used it to write a song. I really enjoyed writing a song as I found it rewarding when I had a finished the song to be able to say I made it myself. Hearing people’s opinions of it after was also really nice. I found the presenting experience really fun because I got to show everyone what I had done. I found it fascinating listening to everyone else’s projects as there was a huge variety of topics covered. I was especially interested in the projects related to music, learning about the path their project took in comparison to mine.

Ben Bradberry, 6.1

For my EPQ project, I chose to focus on Singapore and how it achieved its importance in the modern world. I was inspired to do this having lived there for six years and noticing the differences to the UK. I found it frightening to be one of the first to give my presentation, but instantly felt more reassured as I got into the flow of it. I found the other presentations to be extremely interesting to listen to, but also valuable as a learning experience for myself as I could see how other people went about the process in comparison to how I had done so. Overall, it was an extremely worthwhile experience and I strongly encourage anyone considering an EPQ to pursue it.

Gemini Wang, 6.2

In last Wednesday’s EPQ presentation, 6.1 and 6.2 students presented their projects to an audience. In my group, there was a wide range of subjects from horse racing to time traveling. I was the first one to present in our group and although I was quite nervous before the presentation, from the moment I started talking about my project, I felt no stress at all. Talking to people about my interests and research was really enjoyable. At the end of each presentation, there was a chance to ask questions and the audience took this chance very well. They asked me interesting questions which challenged me as the presenter. Overall this presentation was a great opportunity for us all to share our research and listen to other people’s passions. It was also the moment when months of hard work finally paid off and I could see and hear that I had achieved my goals with my project.

Ernie Allesch-Taylor, 6.2

The opportunity to present an EPQ to Bedales staff and students was such a nice event to be a part of. What could have been a nerve-racking experience turned out to be a very good opportunity to share our projects. Despite differing topics, this enabled people from both Sixth Form year groups with ranging interests to showcase their passions. I for one thoroughly enjoyed the inclusive and welcoming atmosphere that everyone in the audience contributed to. Being able to ask in depth questions to my peers and having questions being asked to me about my project was a great way to properly engage with each individual projects. As well as this, being given the opportunity to ask for feedback after the presentations had ended was also a great way to learn how we could improve whilst also receiving positive praise.