Can a school change and still be the same school?

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By Clare Jarmy, Head of PRE and Head of Academic Enrichment and Oxbridge

125 logo trans - Copy (Small)Giving school assemblies is always such a joy, especially tackling topics that really matter to us as a community. On our minds this year, in the context of the 125th anniversary of the school, and with Magnus taking the reins in September, is institutional identity. Is Bedales the same school it was 125 years ago? With so much change over the years, how can Bedales still be the same?

In Philosophy, we ask this question of ourselves – we are changing too, with cells regenerating all the time, so am I the same person? Perhaps memories are what keep us the same person?

I applied this to the case of Bedales, and demonstrated that there is a long institutional memory at the school. I asked students to stand up if they had been at Bedales for more than 5 years, then to stand up if they had a parent at the school, or grandparent, or sibling. By then, almost everyone was standing up, and we could see how much collective memory we have of the school.

Similarly, we still have overlapping memories leading back to Mr Badley himself. Keith, other staff and OBs, knew Tim Slack. Tim Slack knew Mr Badley. We then, by knowing those around us today, become part of that chain of memory that leads back to the foundation of the school.

This could get quite backward-looking and nostalgic. After all, as John Henry Newman said, ‘to live is to change’, and Bedales is always seeking to renew itself (Mr Badley wanted the school to rebuild itself every seven years). We must, then, remain Janus-faced, looking back to and understanding our past, yet ever looking forwards to how we shape the school in the future.

Working, learning and playing in Russia


By Tabi Archer, 6.1

Over the summer, I and seven other Block 5 Russian students and our teacher Peter, were fortunate enough to visit Orion, a village community south of Moscow which works together to bring up orphan children. Having not previously heard much about Orion, none of us really knew what to expect. We found ourselves in a small village created in its entirety by the residents themselves. At the centre of the village was the school and dining room, where the families ate every meal, cooked by a very Russian woman called Olga. In the school, the children did their lessons, pottery, dancing and plays, which the foster parents ran themselves. Around the school there were about 10 houses, each with two foster parents and around 5 children, both fostered and biological.

wp_20160721_008There was a great emphasis on community, and each house was very open and welcoming to anyone in the village. Orion is an entirely self- sufficient community; growing their own food, making hay and undertaking all building and maintenance. These were jobs we all took on as part of our time in Orion, working alongside the children and adults to make butter, rake hay and paint bed frames. When we weren’t working, we went on walks through the countryside to the river, where we swam and sunbathed, which was a great way to get to know the others and (try) to speak with them in Russian.

In the evenings, we had ‘Lingvotime’, when we got in to pairs and taught English lessons. We were also taught Russian by people our own age, some of whom spoke incredible English. After this we had evening tea with our host families – by far the highlight of the day – when we drank homemade tea and played ‘Uno’, or learnt Russian folk songs.

I think we would all agree that Orion was like no place we’d ever experienced. It was a ‘therapeutic community’ in which every activity was designed to help the children overcome the difficulties from their past and to learn to trust and understand the concepts of family and authority. The sense of community made us forget we were in an orphanage completely, as we were fully immersed in their lifestyle from the moment we arrived.

dsc00049After 10 days in Orion we were thrown back into the outside world with a visit to Moscow for our last day in Russia. We visited the Kremlin and Red Square, explored a Russian market, the Tretyakov Gallery and found ourselves in awe when we saw the Metro stations. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to go on this trip, and I’m really grateful to have experienced both the city and countryside of Russia. We met some amazing people, fell completely in love with the culture, and even learnt some Russian along the way.

View a slideshow of pictures of the visit:

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Just two weeks after the group’s visit to Orion, the BBC filmed a report on the village and its philosophy – remarkably close to that of the Bedales ethos. View here.

Wesley College theatre troupe get to grips with British humour

Wesley College drama

Students from Wesley College theatre troupe

Our troupe, a touring theatre ensemble from Wesley College in Melbourne, Australia, arrived at Bedales last week.

Consisting of students from 14 to 18 years of age, we were all actively involved in two theatre pieces, the first of these, Richard Bean’s One Man, Two Guvnors, was a modern adaption of the classic commedia dell’arte play The Servant of Two Masters and allowed us to explore the subtle divide between our own sense of humour and that of our British audience.  The second of the two pieces, Theatre X, was a far darker and more abstract piece devised by our own troupe. Employing techniques from absurdist theatre and the Theatre of Cruelty, we endeavoured to explore the violence and depravity present in basic human nature. Using techniques of alienation, we imposed upon our audience a confronting and stylised piece, presenting the inhuman nature of the modern person’s relationship with death and suffering.

Particularly enriching was the opportunity to partake in the Bedales Sixth Form drama classes; during these sessions, we learned alongside the students about various theatre practitioners and theatrical methods. We found the abstract and intricate style developed by Richard Wilson to be complementary to the tone of our own theatrical explorations. Our time at Bedales, though brief, was incredibly rewarding and the warmth and generosity of our hosts made our stay an enjoyable one. On behalf of Wesley College, we would like to say a warm thank you to the staff and students of Bedales School.

By Ben Walter and Sam Eidelson, Senior Theatre Prefects 2015

Christmas skiing: improving skills on the slope

By Cassius Kay, Block 4

During the Christmas holidays 11 students ranging from Block 4 to 6.2 went to Les Ménuires, France, on the annual ski trip. We were skiing for six hours a day across the three valleys. After skiing we partook in multiple après ski activities including very competitive games nights and ‘bumboarding’. Overall, we had a great time not only improving our skiing but also our social skills. We would like to thank Helen and Graeme for a wonderful week – more photos to follow!


Choreography, collaboration and Bedales School

By Tzeitel Degiovanni, 6.2 Drama and Theatre Studies student, Dubai College


DC group shotAfter an amazing and hugely successful Drama exchange last year, whereby we hosted Bella, Foxey, Roly, James, Callum, Ruan, Mim and Hebe in Dubai, the seven of us drama students couldn’t wait to see Bedales in the flesh when we joined them on their ‘home turf’ in freezing cold Hampshire. Being part of the 25th year of this  exchange, the A2 Drama class were already feeling part of something memorable – and thanks to our amazingly hospitable hosts – our incredible week was just that!

Performing our exam piece, See A Girl Dance Again, in The Quad during Monday’s assembly was no doubt a scary learning curve for all of us, but one that we will certainly learn a lot from. The reception (applause, stomping and all) was very much appreciated after 14 hours on our feet, and it was wonderful to see OB’s, Bella and James, in the front row supporting us!

Immersing ourselves in Bedales life, joining in lessons, assemblies, boarding house life and the infamous “hand shaking” – whereby every student shakes hands with every member of staff and says goodnight – was a fantastic experience, and not one we’ll forget soon. Thanks to the Theatre Studies teacher, Jenny, we were able to collaborate with the Year 12 theatre students for an hour, where we created a ‘Brecht on Brecht’ piece about the life of the man (and notorious philanderer) himself. Then, in the ever-patient hands of Liz, we joined an A Level Dance class and worked with the current AS students on their exam duets. This was especially exciting for us Dubai College students, as Dance isn’t available to us as an A-Level. Some of us were perhaps more successful than others but everyone certainly tried their best! Sharing our ideas and learning from the creativity of the students at Bedales has definitely helped shape our piece, and our team, into an even stronger collective than when we arrived.

Leading workshops with the Block 3s and 4s, as well as at Dunhurst, based on the physicality and musicality of our piece, was inspiring to say the least. We were flattered at how enthusiastically everyone took to our piece and at how they made it their own – with many dark horses emerging from the shadows!

DC pigs

On our fourth day, Andrew took us on a tour of Outdoor Work at Bedales; growing up in a place where the landscape consists of desert and skyscrapers – we loved it! We enjoyed trekking through the mud, seeing the pigs (especially Angelica!) and learning about sheep reproduction on a working farm that makes and sells its own produce. The Bedales motto became extremely apt when we were on our tour – ‘work of each for the weal of all’ – and is a sentiment we all agreed to take back with us.

Bedales were then generous enough to let us join students in a workshop with The Hiccup project – a Brighton based comedy dance/theatre duo. We used physicality to the extreme and became surreal monsters, breaking down barriers that undoubtedly brought our class from DC and the Bedales dancers closer than we ever though we could get, in the span of just 4 hours. We then unreservedly made a Backstreeet Boys music video, ‘danced’ to a collection of 90s pop, and became dictators, heart-breakers, rappers, drunkards and consequently first-class dance/theatre extraordinaires. Needless to say, this was the highlight of our time at Bedales, as despite waking up with sore… everythings… we definitely formed bonds for life.

Overall getting back to Dubai has been bittersweet, as despite the cold and the travelling, our experience of life as boarders and students at Bedales School has been an amazing one. Thanks to everyone who smiled at us in the corridors, helped direct us around the maze that is the 6.2 flat, shared their tea, asked us to ‘brekkie’ and just generally made us feel more than welcome and consequently reluctant to leave! I know the 6.1 Drama students at Dubai College are very much looking forward to the tables turning next year and having the Bedallians perform here in the desert! Literally… 🙂

Read Bedales student Hebe Bartlett’s report here and view a gallery of pictures here.




Choreography, collaboration and Dubai College

By Hebe Bartlett, 6.2

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I am currently sitting in a Hiccup Project workshop (run by a Brighton-based comedy/theatre duo) with the Dubai College students, having spent the last two days with them. We have spent the afternoon pretending to be evolving monsters, talking about buildings as if we were breaking up with someone, and dancing happily to Titanic – which is harder than it sounds. Over the last few days the Dubai College students have treated us to their A2 Devised production See a Girl Dance Again, and taught workshops based on their piece.

This is the 25th year of the Dubai exchange (you can view more photos here), and we have all loved spending time with them on 6.2 flat. We will miss you!


Lest we forget

Librarian Jane Kirby and I wanted to commemorate those Bedalians who died in WW1.  I suggested we marked the 100th anniversary of their deaths and we agreed this should include a small presentation in the Bedales Memorial Library, the School’s War Memorial, designed by Ernest Gimson and opened in 1921. We have very limited archival resources but close study of The Bedales Record (published annually in September) and, from 1907, The Bedales Chronicle, produced information about most of the OBs. I use my membership of and other genealogical sites to begin research into family backgrounds and regularly consult surviving material at The National Archives, The British Library and the Bodleian.  Many of the OBs feature in published works (usually to be found in our Library), and in several cases I have been loaned material by surviving descendants.

Bedales is unusual in commemorating an ex-pupil, Ferenc Bekassy, who died in the Hungarian Hussars, and an ex-teacher of German, Herr Hinne, who was killed in the German infantry.  I have added to the 63 ex-students and 2 members of staff, two ex-members of the domestic staff, previously ignored.  17 people have already been acknowledged (go to History of Bedales: WW1 on the website) so there is still a large task to be completed.  If any readers of this Bulletin have information about ancestors who were at Bedales and died in WW1 we would be delighted to receive it.

By Ruth Whiting