To mark the end of mocks, we organised a somewhat alternative sensory event on Tuesday night on 6.2 Flat. For about 45 minutes the welcome area was teeming with students choosing face masks, applying tea-tree nose strips and placing cucumbers on their eyes. Downstairs in the mixed kitchen we served hot chocolate and multicoloured donuts. Jazz music played, fairy lights twinkled and there was an impressive take up from boys!
A huge thank you to Rio, Jamila, Nesta and Arlo who helped apply face masks and gave advice and encouragement. Also to Jayne Rundell who ordered all the products we needed in advance and had the foresight to buy ribbon so people could tie their hair back. Next time we will make sure we have worked out how to use the diffuser so we can enrich the sense of smell as well as touch, taste and sound.
Boarding at Bedales Prep is something that is thoroughly enjoyed by the pupils. From Tuesday treat nights to weekend trips, there are always activities for boarders to enjoy.
To live together and learn from each other has always been a cherished part of our communal boarding life, and it enables pupils to feel fully immersed in the Dunhurst community.
This term, the nights have drawn in and there is a cosy and seasonal feel to the boarding house. As well as relaxing with their friends after a busy school day, boarders have enjoyed a range of activities, from dodgeball and table tennis tournaments, to trips to crazy golf and Flip out.
December also brought the start of advent and resident matron Alex has created plenty of festive fun for the boarders, including tree decorating and a Christmas activities advent which started with a game of ‘Pin the Antlers on the Reindeer’.
We offer flexible boarding options to accommodate the varying needs of our families, with full, half and flexi-boarding available. At weekends, boarders can choose to stay at Dunhurst or return home, with staff accompanying children on the train to London Waterloo or Clapham.
By Georgie Nugent, Girls’ Houseparent and Teacher of Drama
Spring is here and we are back! Flat is full once more of music, laughter and lots of chatter. We are making up for lost time, but it is a lot to take on board and the students are working hard to take it step-by-step. To go from living within our own little bubbles at home in an established routine that works for each one of us, to being back within the heart of this vibrant community, is a huge gear change for everyone.
We have worked hard to ensure the houses feel calm and welcoming, a place where there is space to breathe and relax amid busy days and to remember to focus on friendships and inclusion. The message to hand in devices to encourage better bedtime routines seems to have worked very well, with a collective understanding that it is in everyone’s best interests.
This first week back, we have had fun roasting marshmallows over the firepit (thanks to Head of Outdoor Work Andrew Martin for wheeling in barrow loads of logs) and hot chocolates in the flat courtyards, with the idea that reconnecting with our friends is at the core of getting back to normal. We have also been thinking about those members of our community that perhaps have had a difficult lockdown or who are still in lockdown all around the world.
Acting on the School Council’s feedback, the cooked breakfasts have been reinstated and received with glee by many of the students. The flat Charity Committees and Eco Committees are enjoying sharing ideas with each other to make our community and the world a better place. We are also delighted that the barriers within the year groups enforced by COVID restrictions last term have been relaxed and we can work and play in our year groups, united as a community. There is a sense of relief in the air and a feeling that we can dare to look forward and plan for a wonderful summer term.
On Sunday, we had a belated Halloween party on Steephurst. With lots of volunteers from different year groups, we started setting up at 2pm. Block 4 and 6.1 made a delicious pumpkin soup, while volunteers from all year groups decorated the courtyard with balloons, garlands and stickers. COVID related restrictions meant there were staggered times for students to come and enjoy the festivities. We made a photo booth and poster and there was popcorn, hot dogs, soup, hot chocolate, make-up and temporary tattoos to keep everyone entertained. Despite the restrictions, it was really nice to dress up collectively and share a carefree evening together.
Since half term, the Houseparent teams have been hosting online ‘At Homes’ with our students. It has been lovely to catch up with people and hear how they are doing either locally, further afield in the UK or abroad. As ever, these forums of discussion are re-energising for us as Houseparents, and it has been great to get the students together in a social context. The students also found it helpful hearing from their peers as to how they are managing life in lockdown. We look forward to more virtual At Homes, although we would much rather be meeting face-to-face at Bedales.
To give you a flavour of what has been happening at my At Homes this week, I showed the boys in my house how to make poached eggs live – this was my first attempt too! I was delighted that some of the boys joined in at the same time, poaching eggs in their own kitchen. We all had moments of great triumph as we cut into a poached egg and out flowed delicious yellow yolk. We all had moments of disaster as eggs split, yolks went too hard and one even ended up on a laptop! I suggested poached eggs go well with haggis or avocado, or of course, Eggs Benedict… that will be for next week!
After my morning lessons on Saturday, I – along with significant help from history teacher and house parent Chris Bott, as well as Block 5 student Teo Sydow Elias – set to work on unboxing and starting the build. We started at 1pm on Saturday and worked until late into the evening, stopping only for dinner.
My help on the project was halted on Sunday morning by an early start for some volunteering work with the Rural Refugee Network, as organised by Al McConville. I and several others helped set up and martial their Walk for Hope, a charity walk that raises money to help support Syrian refugees in the UK. Fellow 6.1 student Eloise Cooper helped man the drinks stall at Elsted Village Hall for another fundraiser, which included raffle tickets, cakes (courtesy of Outdoor Work) and drinks as ways to raise money. There were several touching speeches from founders of the charity and also some of the people who they have helped arrive and settle in the UK.
By Jack Brooksbank, Block 3 and Oskar de Aragues, Block 4
The weekends for the boarders at Bedales this year have definitely been a highlight and a great way to end a busy week.
We have done it all, from visiting a 500-year-old ship (the Mary Rose), to seeing all the animals at Marwell Zoo, jam packing our weekends with activities. There were also the classic favourites of bowling, shopping or seeing the very latest blockbusters at Gunwharf Quays. Last Sunday, we went trampolining at Flip Out.
What we really like about the weekend here is that Bedales provides a relaxing, homely place to rest your head after the previous week, thanks to having supper and breakfast on flat in the shared kitchens, a movie night and friends from different year groups all around you. There are also many food related activities – two of our favourites being pasta making with Giacomo and fajitas with Alejandro and Alastair.
The weekends are what makes being a boarder feel so unique with a family and home away from home.