Block 3 experiment with comparative poetry

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English

My Block 3 students have been practising writing poems using extended metaphors.

In class, we read The Beach by William Hart-Smith, Winter Morning by Roger McGough and In a Station of the Metro by Ezra Pound to inspire us, observing that none of the poems used full rhyme or a particular rhythm; instead, they’re constructed using one long sentence.

Students then worked together in small teams groups, looking at a range of images – a skiing scene, traffic on a motorway, a mountain top and a red London bus – and coming up with a number of metaphors and similes to describe aspects of the picture (mountain tops as “Stegosaurus spines” in the skiing scene, for example).

Next, they were asked to turn their collective notes into a descriptive sentence that uses at least one metaphor, then turn that into a poem.

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Block 3 explore ecosystems for Ecology project

Ecology 1

By Cheryl Osborne, Teacher of Biology

In the five weeks before half term, Block 3 students were engaged in a project for Biology, researching an ecosystem. They chose their own ecosystems, which ranged from rainforests to cold deserts, coral reefs to wetlands. They were asked to identify three habitats within their ecosystem, to look at the biotic and abiotic factors affecting each habitat, and then finally to look at the adaptations of three organisms within each habitat.

The project enabled students to be independent in their learning and to be creative. They learnt research skills and the need to reference the websites that they used. Those who looked at the marking criteria carefully performed really well. The projects were presented as PowerPoints, word documents, posters and even a website (which can be accessed here).

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Wellbeing update

By Kirsten McLintock, Head of Wellbeing & PSHE

Block 3 have been prompted to reflect on ‘character’ from The Guardian article, The real Lord of the Flies: what happened when six boys were shipwrecked for 15 months. For centuries western culture has been permeated by the idea that humans are selfish creatures. That cynical image of humanity has been proclaimed in films and novels, history books and scientific research. But in the last 20 years, something extraordinary has happened. Scientists from all over the world have switched to a more hopeful view of mankind. As we are living through this unprecedented lock down and as our theme in Wellbeing for Block 3 this year is ‘empathy’ I felt this cross-curricular article would resonate with Bedalians. The real Lord of the Flies is a tale of friendship and loyalty; one that illustrates how much stronger we are if we can lean on each other, and that we should always look for what is good and positive in people. As a Block 3 student reflects: “I enjoyed reading this article a lot. I found it very interesting and I enjoyed the expectations vs reality of it all. Books make it appear as if people being trapped on an island together will lose all sanity. Good to know that isn’t necessarily true!”

For Block 4’s theme on identity this year we have been exploring self-awareness and acceptance. Dr Brene Brown’s research and teachings permeate the entire Wellbeing curriculum provision at Bedales, so it was opportune to task students with watching her two TED talks.  Dr Brown is perhaps best known for TEDx talk, The Power of Vulnerability. Recorded at an event in Houston in 2010, the talk is one of the five most popular in TED history, with more than 60 million views. It summarises a decade of Brown’s research on shame, vulnerability and courage.

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Poetry by heart

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English

On 11 October, Block 3 students were invited to attend and participate in a poetry event in the Dining Hall. Welcomed by members of the English department dressed in sheepskins and cloaks, and surrounded by candles, students and staff stood up to perform a poem they had learnt by heart in front of the roaring fire. Some took on Shakespeare and others invited the audience to join them in a rendition of a nursery rhyme.

Lilibet Viner gave a dramatic performance of Helena’s speech from A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Sam Coleman told us what it was like to be a cupcake cooking in the oven; Clara Gardiner-Cox gave a moving rendition of Mary Elizabeth Frye’s Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep; and Miranda Robertson sang a luxurious yet spine-tingling version of Bohemian Rhapsody.

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Block 3s’ Bedales journey begins at Ullswater


By Alexander Lunn, 6.2


It is all one chase.
Trace it back: the source
might be nothing more
than a teardrop
squeezed from a curlew’s eye,
then follow it down
to the full-throated roar
at its mouth:
a dipper strolls the river
dressed for dinner
in a white bib.
The unbroken thread
of the beck
with its nose for the sea,
all flux and flex,
soft-soaping a pebble
for thousands of years
or here
after hard rain
sawing the hillside in half
with its chain.
Or here,
where water unbinds
and hangs
at the waterfall’s face,
and just for that one
stretched white moment
becomes lace.
– Simon Armitage

I read ‘Beck’ by the poet laureate Simon Armitage shortly after disembarking the Ullswater minibus. Perhaps it was fatigue that compelled me to pick up a poetry book, but this poem really reminded me of Ullswater.

We did encounter many becks – Block 3s camped beside them, the rushing water the least of their problems – and we scaled ‘the waterfall’s face’, albeit in ridiculous wetsuits. If you replace ‘the sea’ in Armitage’s poem with ‘Lake Ullswater’, you have a description of this trip.

Ullswater 2019 really was an abrupt end to summer for the new Block 3s, what with the ‘hard rain’ and singular hash brown for breakfast. This sounds quite miserable, doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t!

Northern weather is always expected to be far less superior than here in the South. Actually, I know for my tutor group, the bad weather brought people together. There was a general consensus as we were freezing whilst rowing or when the smaller members of our tutor group were almost being blown away near the foot of Helvellyn, that everyone was (literally) in the same boat, so we might as well get on with it!

And everyone did. I speak for every Block 3 tutor group. The week was marred by the weather, but what these Block 3s achieved is truly astounding. From ‘the source’, the menial tasks like organising kit rooms to the de-gunge at the end of the expedition, I’m sure everyone had worn a huge grin on their faces at some point. The Block 3s should be proud of themselves, as should the dozen 6.2 Badley Seniors who accompanied them.

Ullswater 2019 was a cyclical moment for me in my Bedales career. I remember Ullswater as a Block 3 vividly, from being dumped in a sail boat and half-rolling, half-falling down a hillside mid-expedition. (To be fair, the backpack was bigger than me!) The sixth formers who valiantly sacrificed their first week of their final school year had to endure creaky beds that had the authentic asylum experience and lacing up countless walking boots, although I’m sure everyone will say it was worth it.

To be back to where our Bedales journey started was super special. I know everyone has so many memories to share – more than I can put on one page. On the other hand, I bet the only thing that sticks out in the teachers minds is how loud we were every evening playing a notorious card game…