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.
Last week we had another memorable evening in the Bakehouse, making our famous Christmas puddings with our 6.1 Living with the Land students and their guests. It’s always a shock to hear Christmas music so early in the year, but the big day is only 43 days away!
There was stirring, singing, chatting, zesting and lots of Christmas cheer as we spent the evening making 115 puddings, kindly steamed the next day by the wonderful Matt Potts and his catering team.
Pardon the pun, but these puddings usually sell like hot cakes, so if you’d like to get one, make your way over to our farm shop beside the Bakehouse as soon as possible where they’re ready and ribboned up for Christmas.
As I’m sure most of you are aware, Outdoor Work is run as a cottage industry as well as a department within the school. This unique position allows us to offer you a selection of homemade goods, most of which have been made by students, whenever possible using produce grown here.
This year, you’ll find preserves and honey, as well as sheepskins from our own Jacob flock, each one boasting its own unique, distinctive pattern. We also have a new range of shawls, scarves and blankets from our Jacob fleece, all woven for us at Melin Teifi in Wales. These make brilliant Christmas gifts; allowing the recipient to take a bit of Bedales with them, wherever they go.
All profits are ploughed back into Outdoor Work, so please take a good look; staff, students and animals greatly appreciate your support. A very merry, very premature Christmas from all of us in Outdoor Work!
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.
Once again Bedales Sixth Form students have impressed us with their Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) submissions. These project topics are selected by the students based on their passions and interests, with the final submission being either a 5000-word dissertation or an artefact.
On Wednesday, we were treated to a smorgasboard of material presented with enthusiasm, humour and impressive depth of knowledge. Topics included the production of movie and play scripts, and music, where the students wrote and recorded original scores. Architecture was represented, as was art and fashion. Equally impressive were submissions covering economics, sustainability, social issues, animal welfare, genetics, time travel, historical figures and artificial intelligence; all engaged, educated and entertained the audience.
The students who have presented their EPQ this year, and their project titles, are listed below:
Ruben Alexander – The Middle Eastern Museum of Problem Solving and Beauty
Ernie Allesch-Taylor – To make a short film
Emilia Bansdale-Ward – Female Roles in Celtic Britain, with Specific Reference toCartimandua and Boudicca
Ben Bradberry – What are the major factors that lead to Singapore being a dominant force in the Asia-Pacific Region?
Hugo Burnett-Armstrong – How did the media affect the Rise and Fall of Pablo Escobar?
Iris Campbell-Lange – 1, 2 A Play
Zazie Cazac – How can the fashion industry become more sustainable? (Group project)
Eloise Cooper – What is the difference between a religion and a cult?
Oskar de Aragues – How and why does architecture incorporate nature?
Monty de la Guerra – The History of the Circus
Freya Hannan-Mills – Creation of a Screenplay and a Website
Alice Hockey – Time Travel
Nina Jones – A Racehorse’s Life: how dangerous is it really?
Jamie Loudon – Writing and recording a song
Holly Marsden – How can the fashion industry become more sustainable? (Group project)
Molly Montagu – To design and build a sustainable treehouse
Isabella Montero – To write and record an EP
Anne Novak – Genes and Genomics
Roo Trim – Writing and recording an EP
Maddy Upton – To what extent is Bedales doing all that it can to reduce the environmental impact of their food waste?
Grace Vernor-Miles – The effects and dangers of different drugs on the teenager
Gemini Wang – To what extent should AI have rights?
By Jo Mayhook-Walker, Head of EAL and Extended Projects Coordinator
COVID has encouraged a huge reliance on technology both in school and in the wider world. Last Wednesday afternoon saw a small and select audience settle down in front of their computers to form the audience for two Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) presentations given over Teams by Isabella Montero and Eloise Cooper, both 6.2 students.
As the new Extended Projects Coordinator, I felt incredibly privileged to be part of the audience. Previously, projects have been presented in the Library, giving students, staff and parents an opportunity to wander from stand to stand, dipping in and out of a smorgasbord of projects and being able to question each student about the inspiration behind their projects, the challenges they encountered and what they had learnt. The current situation, however, has meant that we have had to rethink.
All the way from Barcelona, Isabella (pictured above in last year’s Rock Show) presented her project, her EP entitled A White Picket Dream. She gave us an insight into her musical inspirations and how her experience of living in different parts of the USA, as well as being an American living and being schooled outside the US, has coloured her musical journey.
In contrast, Eloise, from her dorm in 6.2, presented her project: Is there a Difference between a Cult and a Religion? She explained why this was a topic that had appealed to her, presented the issue of bias when conducting her research and explored how her own personal relationship to religion had coloured her choice of topic and approach.
Both presentations were insightful, confidently given and complimentary to each other. We, as the audience, were given a unique opportunity to focus entirely on each individual project with a chance to question the students at the end of their presentation. Although a very different experience to the Expo of old, the use of this new technology allowed us a more concentrated and intimate glimpse into the story behind the project.
In this week’s Art update, I’m sharing some work from our Sixth Form students. These pieces are part of the work set over the Christmas holiday – some are prep and others are the students’ responses to mock exam papers. While online learning comes with its challenges, Art lessons have been very positive so far. See more of the students’ artwork below.
In this week’s Art update, I thought I would share the projects from my 6.1 group. Since the start of term, they have been working on 2D and 3D projects under the theme of ‘Dystopian Worlds’.
All of the projects are individually led, and students have been using a range of techniques such as using clear casting resin to make a stained glass effect relief and making mosaic panels, pyrographic panels (burning or drawing into wood), cardboard constructions and clay modelling.
The work will go towards their folio of work for college applications and their final exam grades and a display of their work will be in an informal show from 9 December.
Living with the Land is our new Sixth Form course, which was written by Feline and me, and introduced to the curriculum this year. The course aims to equip students with the necessary practical skills to live lightly off the land, and enable them to look at the issues surrounding the environment and our impact upon it. It is a natural progression from our Outdoor Work Bedales Assessed Course (BAC), however it goes into far greater depth and includes significant self-directed work, including a portfolio and a ‘major’ project in the final year.
Living with the Land around us means having a greater awareness of our environment, living in rhythm with the seasons, trying to reduce our footprint and applying our new-found knowledge to other aspects of our lives and our community. This term we have been focusing on getting students to really think about their immediate surroundings. We have encouraged them to take a step back and take time to really consider the impact we are having on the natural environment.
So far this term students have spent time looking at and observing our beautiful estate. This has meant a lot of walking and talking, as well as just sitting in a field, letting our senses tell us more about the land around us. We have been looking at permaculture and how its principles might be applied to ourselves, our community and beyond. We have built wattle and daub walls and started looking at natural building and how empowering and beautiful it is. Bread baking, foraging, making hedgerow preserves and site surveying are just some of the topics we have already touched upon over the past three weeks on this exciting and enriching course.
A Level English Literature students were transported back in time on Monday when they took part in a practical exercise designed to reinforce their understanding of one of the course’s key texts – The Eve of St Agnes by John Keats – following the success of last year’s experience day centred around the same poem.
The Eve of St Agnes, which is set in the Middle Ages, was inspired by the legend that unmarried women could see their future husband in their dreams if they performed certain rituals on 20 January, the evening before the feast of St Agnes.
It follows the young maiden Madeline as she escapes a loud and festive family party to go to her bedroom and perform the rituals, hoping to see her lover Porphyro in her dreams, despite being from opposite sides of two rival families.
Madeline does see Porphyro that evening, but her dreams morph into reality as her lover – having snuck into her room while she was at the party – emerges from his hiding place in the closet and attempts to rouse her by laying out a feast and playing the lute.
To bring them closer to Keats’ poem, 6.2 English students were asked to work in groups across two classes to produce tableaux representative of the poem. They sought the help of the school’s costume department to find appropriate attire and recreated the scenes in various locations – including the Lupton Hall, the sand quarry and All Saints Church in Steep, with some venturing as far as Midhurst.
On the Eve of St Agnes – 20 January – 6.2 English Literature students were invited to Head of English David Anson’s house to listen to a reading of John Keats’ poem of the same name, which was inspired by the traditions and superstitions surrounding the date. St Agnes’ Day falls on 21 January.
Traditionally, girls wishing to learn who their partner would be, performed rituals on the Eve of St Agnes, hoping that their future lover would be revealed to them in a dream. Keats took this idea and created his poem, a fantastical tale which merges dreams and reality, ending with two lovers disappearing into the night. It links the ideas of the Gothic with Pagan rituals and witchcraft which surround St Agnes.
On the evening itself, we made our way down Church Road on a suitably frosty, starlit night, in keeping with the “bitter chill” described at the beginning of the poem. Greeted with a warming fire, we gathered round a feast, much like the one which Porphyro lays out in The Eve of St Agnes, to listen to the poem. There were “jellies soother than the creamy curd”, “lucent syrops”, “manna and dates”, served “on golden dishes and in baskets bright / Of wreathed silver”. Eating these delicacies while listening to the reading of the poem, we were transported into Keat’s imagined and magical world.