Novelist inspires creative writing enrichment

By Jemima Corcoran, 6.1

Aspiring writers and journalists in Sixth Form and Block 5 were given the opportunity to hear from Teddy James, author and father of Old Bedalian Emilia Barnsdale-Ward, last Friday as part of our Creative Writing course for the Sixth Form Enrichment programme.

With a clear enthusiasm for history, Teddy spoke to us about his new book Relique of the Sunken Day. His first published novel, it centres around the nuclear testing carried out by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and the long-term effects this had on those directly involved. Although the historical accuracy of his fiction is fascinating in itself, Teddy has also managed to intertwine a motif of descriptive imagery that takes inspiration from the great English poets – particularly Coleridge – as well as exploring the ethical and moral dilemmas surrounding communism, authority and patriotism.

Overall, our session with Teddy proved incredibly useful and inspiring, as we learnt all about the world of writing, how to find a publisher, and what can provide us with inspiration – which, for Teddy, ranges from the work of other authors (such as Evelyn Waugh) to real-life scenarios and historical events. Most apparent, however, was his strong passion for reading, and his advice to us about the importance of literature, and how our imagination and creativity can develop by passing our time engrossed in books.

A huge thank you to Teddy James for taking the time to answer our questions, offer professional advice and inspire us all, and to Head of English David Anson for arranging this amazing opportunity that will benefit many of us in our future writing endeavours.

Maths gets messy

By Greg Clarke, Teacher of Maths

I am not sure what you are supposed to do first thing on a wintery Tuesday morning in lockdown, but how about an hour of mind-bending maths problem solving?! That is the reality for a flourishing community of Bedales students as we gather to address a range of enigmas, conundrums and posers that would challenge the intellect of any Bedalian, old or new, even – dare I say – that arch puzzler, Gyles Brandreth!

Messy Maths at 8.20am on Tuesdays in the Garrett Time activity slot has something for everyone. In the first week of lockdown, we looked at some of the hardest ever GCSE maths questions, including one or two problems that caused a furore on social media amongst students at the time. This was ideal for our most fearless students, particularly those thinking about doing or already doing Further Maths at A Level. For others, who understandably wanted a gentler start to a Tuesday morning, there were puzzles starting at one-star, such as: ‘A cage contains birds and rabbits. There are 16 heads and 38 feet. How many birds are in the cage?’

From there, you can move onto two-star problems. Just this week, we have introduced three-star problems and they are getting difficult: one mentions the radicals of a triplet of relatively prime positive integers, which gave me a queasy turn as I recalled baffling university lectures (it’s like that dream where it’s the night before your finals and you haven’t done any revision and you’ve forgotten everything because you haven’t been a student for 30 years!) So, it’s no surprise that I can’t find the inclination to contemplate the four-star problems just yet.

To complete the picture of what goes on in Messy Maths, we also offer the Oxford and Cambridge maths entrance questions for our serious-minded sixth formers. At the beginning, I thought I was going to be bombarded with questions, but everyone just gets on with thinking about what to do for themselves and the only time I ever get called upon is to answer the most popular question: “Can I check my answer?”

Block 3 student and Messy Maths regular Shoshana Yugin-Power says: “I have been really enjoying the maths and I am hopefully going to do some more work on sin and cos over the weekend.” Shoshana is one of around 100 Bedales students who entered the UK Intermediate Maths Challenge this week, an annual maths competition that has shifted online this year. Bedales has a good success record for several years, with plenty of Gold, Silver and Bronze awards, as well as invitations to the next challenge – the Kangaroo. 

Like I said, Messy Maths has something for everyone. Have you tried the birds and rabbits question yet? The answer is… Sorry, you’ll just have to come along to find out!

Co-curricular goes digital

By Clare Gendy, Teacher of Business and Activities Coordinator

As Phil Tattersall-King wrote in the Bedales Online Learning Guide, the last time the school worked remotely, the co-curriculum flourished, with concerts, shows and practical work continuing throughout. Now is no different, but our vision is broader than it was before – and this is reflected in our activities programme, which has been finalised and is now underway.

Students of all age groups can get involved with activities, which operate on Teams in Garrett, Badley and Powell Times (8.20-9.20am, 12.30-1.30pm and 5.30-6.30pm respectively). There is a vast range of options to choose from, including crocheting, lego building, photography, yoga, poetry reading, cake making, mindful colouring, dog walking, football coaching and collaborative drawing. Students can continue with existing commitments, such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE), as well as explore something completely new, such as astronomy. As well as Junior and Senior Literacy Societies, Block 3 students are encouraged to attend a weekly book chat to share what they have been reading during lockdown.

There are opportunities for students to get involved in Drama’s Spring Production (whether as an actor or a member of stage crew), play an active role in the development of a new, live play, attend dance and drama industry workshops or take part in a lockdown dance project. Music activities, including Orchestra, Choir and Jazz Band, will also continue.

Take a look at the full activities programme here and do encourage students to drop-in, sign up and make the most of what our fantastic co-curriculum has to offer.