Annual walk to the Poet’s Stone

By David Anson, Head of English

As ever, the annual Block 3 and 6.2 Poet’s Stone walk on Saturday 4 May was an invigorating and stimulating occasion. So good to see the two year groups displaying all that is good about the cross year group friendships that are possible at Bedales.

After the brisk trek up the Shoulder of Mutton we had a breakfast of fruit and pastries with a side of some Edward Thomas poetry; 6.2 students Sam Vernor-Miles and Meg Allin read rather beautifully The Penny Whistle and Tall Nettles, I read The Combe and one of our librarians, Ian Douglas, read The Lofty Sky.

It seems such a lot to achieve before 8.30am but definitely set us all up for a welcome bank holiday long leave before the more serious business of A Level exams begin.

The Lofty Sky

To-day I want the sky,
The tops of the high hills,
Above the last man’s house,
His hedges, and his cows,
Where, if I will, I look
Down even on sheep and rook,
And of all things that move
See buzzards only above:-
Past all trees, past furze
And thorn, where nought deters
The desire of the eye
For sky, nothing but sky.
I sicken of the woods
And all the multitudes
Of hedge-trees. They are no more
Than weeds upon this floor
Of the river of air
Leagues deep, leagues wide, where
I am like a fish that lives
In weeds and mud and gives
What’s above him no thought.
I might be a tench for aught
That I can do to-day
Down on the wealden clay.
Even the tench has days
When he floats up and plays
Among the lily leaves
And sees the sky, or grieves
Not if he nothing sees:
While I, I know that trees
Under that lofty sky
Are weeds, fields mud, and I
Would arise and go far
To where the lilies are.

—Edward Thomas

Bedales compete in Oxford Schools’ Debating Competition

By Jonathan Selby, Head of Government and Politics

On Tuesday, two teams from Bedales took part in the Oxford Schools’ Debating Competition hosted at Guildford High School.

There were 90 teams competing – and two ‘swing’ teams to make up the numbers – which makes the competition logistically different as each judge only ever sees a maximum of eight teams. Unlike other competitions, the judges were all Oxford University students, which gave a lively and youthful feel to the competition.

On arrival, the teams only had 15 minutes notice of the motion they were to debate, and were not allowed phones, books or teacher assistance to help them construct their arguments. It was a testing format which none of our debaters had experienced before. Each team had two debates, the first on compulsory national service and the second on removing the gender distinction for actors in the arts.

Bedales’ first team comprised our conservative thinkers, Morgan Tasker (our version of The Spectator columnist Rod Liddle) and Amos Wollen (who doesn’t like post-modernism). The second team consisted of our more liberal wing, Connie Gillies and Taragh Melwani.

We did not win, nor were we likely to as Taragh and Amos are only in Block 4 and they were up against sixth formers. They did, however, show considerable potential and were not shy to engage in sometimes controversial debate. Connie was probably the star of our show and was really effective taking issue with what her opponents said, but all our debaters came across as bright and globally aware.

Bedales, TPS and Bohunt partnership continues

On Wednesday, Head Students Ollie and Lettie visited The Petersfield School (TPS) for the second Three Schools meeting of Bohunt, Bedales and TPS. It was good to meet again with the other Head Students/School Council representatives and it was a really productive meeting as we already all knew each other.

We discussed mental health and pastoral care in each school and how we can learn from each other, specifically looking at the different support in each school to help student Well-being and to combat anxiety and depression. We all shared the different approaches to supporting young people in each of our schools, as well as each school’s existing platforms. We discussed how to deal with high levels of stress in exam years by helping to find alternative solutions to help students manage exam stress such as mindfulness and exercise.

We discussed smoking and vaping rules and how each school approaches these issues, as well as looking at ideas to help those who smoke or vape as a stress reliever to find alternative ways to relax.

We also discussed lost property and theft, looking at differentiating petty theft from serious theft and how to approach each according to the gravity of the situation.

There were some other ideas for more healthy eating in meals and in the school cafe as well as creating safe spaces for students to share in, building on the good work of student led groups at Bedales such as LGBTQ+ society and Tea & Chat.

Everyone appeared very excited to take their feedback to each of their school councils. We are looking forward to another meeting in the third term, hosted by Bedales, to continue learning from each other and share the progress we are making.

Head Students visit the Minerva Theatre

By Bedales Head Students

Last Tuesday, the Head Students, along with Magnus, saw Cock by Mike Bartlett at the Minerva Theatre in Chichester. While it was frustrating to watch due to the high levels of tension, it was also charming, funny and intimate. The dysfunctional relationship between John (Luke Thallon) and M (Matthew Needham) made the audience cringe and laugh. The fast moving pace of the writing made the relationship between John and W (Isabella Laughland) seem move exciting.

In the story we see these relationship’s put to the test when John goes from dating M to dating W. Therefore identifying as gay to identifying to bisexual. The twist comes when John makes promises to both parties that he wants to stay with them. This in turn leads to the climatic end to the story where we see M’s dad get involved in the situation Although the ending is left ambiguous the acute frustration of a household chore is amplified in John’s horrific decision. It is not the final choice that it is horrific, of course, the journey that he took there.

The staging of this play was very simple. There were no props or set. On the floor was red tape in the shape of a decagon. To show that time had passed, a alarm bell would ring and right lights would flash. The actors would change positions based on emotions rather than on particle steps. The beautiful and intricate writing of Mike Bartlett was portrayed perfectly, the words feeling natural for each character.

Commission for Block 4 student

A Block 4 student whose original script was selected to be performed at an event in London has been commissioned to develop it into a full-length piece for theatre in the capital’s West End.

Freya Hannan-Mills’ script, Swallow – which documents a daughter’s last days in a hospice with her mother – was one of four pieces of writing chosen by casting company Spotlight to be produced for an event hosted at their studios in the heart of the West End on 7 October.

The piece, which was brought to life for Spotlight’s event by director Phoebe Rhodes and actress Kate Kelly Flood, was well received by the industry panel in attendance, with casting director Daniel Edwards tweeting: “Left speechless by [Freya’s] exceptional piece … This young actress/writer is one to watch people!”

Following the success of the performance, Freya received the news that she was to be commissioned to develop Swallow into a full-length piece for performance at the Tristan Bates Theatre in London’s West End in January 2019.

The script will also be featured in a ‘Best of 2018’ showcase in London in December 2018.

Freya’s latest success comes just a week after she received the Robert Hutchison Young Poets Competition for her poem, Overheard at Zara – Liverpool One, at a special prize-giving event at the University of Winchester.

Earlier this year she was crowned the winner of  Wicked Young Writer Awards’ 11-14 Years Category for her short story, Mushy Peas and Battered Bits.

Students cycle the South Downs Way

By Oscar Kingsley-Pallant, 6.2

Last weekend Archie Gibbon, Jack Cecil, Sam Wilson and I left the King Alfred’s statue in Winchester at four o’clock in the morning attempting to cycle the South Downs Way in a day.

The initial 25 miles went by in a breeze, though in freezing temperatures and pitch black skies the distance we covered in such a short space of time raised our confidence.

At 30 miles we hit a low and began to struggle with the constant increase in steepness of the hills. At the perfect time we met Nicola Cecil and Fionna Gibbon who re-supplied us with energy and morale. Setting off after that was hard and required huge mental and physical strength for the next 40 or so miles.

After hours of intense cycling on the unforgiving terrain we met Jim Gibbon, a true guardian angel to all each of us. From Brighton he supported us with fuel and motivation, meeting us at pit stops well into the night.

When darkness came we were still left with 30 miles to go and struggled. The encouragement we got from each other allowed us to continue and spur on until Eastbourne came into view.

When finishing the final leg of the journey we were all fully exhausted and lied down underneath the finishing sign with a sense of overwhelming happiness and pride that we had completed cycling the South Downs Way in a day.

Thank you to all those who supported us, especially our parents, and thank you to those who have donated to our cause as we raise money for Swaziland.

Freya Hannan-Mills wins Wicked Young Writer Award

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Congratulations to Block 3 student Freya Hannan-Mills, who has been crowned winner of the 11-14 Years Category in the esteemed Wicked Young Writer Awards 2018.

Freya’s short story, Mushy Peas and Battered Bits – which was chosen as the winning entry by a panel including bestselling children’s author Michael Morpurgo, How to Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell, Olivier Award winning theatre producer Michael McCabe, and Young People’s Laureate for London Caleb Femi – staved off competition from 19 other finalists.

As winner of her category Freya won four tickets to see the London production of Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, a meet and greet with the cast members and an exclusive backstage tour, as well as £50 worth of books tokens, an annual subscription to award-winning children’s newspaper First News, and £100 worth of books for Bedales’ school library donated by Hachette Children’s Books.

Now in its eighth year, the Wicked Young Writer Awards recognises excellence in writing, encourages creativity, and helps develop writing talent in young people aged between five and 25 years old from all backgrounds and areas of the UK.

Freya said: “It was a fantastic honour to win the Wicked Young Writer Award. I felt shocked and excited to have won. A highlight of the ceremony was Alice Fern, who plays Elphaba in Wicked, reading my story.”

She added: “Since being at Bedales I really feel as though my creative writing has matured and developed – I have had enormous support, encouragement and the opportunity to attend masterclasses and mentoring sessions.”

Freya, who last year appeared on stage at the Lyric Theatre, London, in the production Snow Angels which she also wrote, is currently working on another script which is due to be filmed this summer.

Freya has kindly donated a copy of the book containing her winning entry, along with the other finalists’ entries, to Bedales’ school library.

Read Freya’s winning entry here (scroll to page 66).

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.

Block 3’s Ullswater adventure

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By Evelyn Adams, Blk 3

On Saturday 3 September, the new Block 3 travelled to Ullswater in the Lake District, the 8 hour coach journey was tiring but we were rewarded with an exhilarating swim in the lake when we arrived, which definitely woke us up!

My favourite part of the visit was the gorge scrambling. We were all getting to know each other whilst having fun splashing about and scrambling up gushing waterfalls. Over the week the different tutor groups got to experience all sorts of activities, from canoeing to rowing to trapeze exercises and lots of other fun and challenging activities. On Tuesday morning everyone set off with their instructors on their three day expedition, carrying everything they would need for two nights of sleeping out on the mountains.

The funniest bit was making structures out of pasta and jelly babies. What started off as a competitive challenge, turned into a crazy pasta fight, it was everywhere, but some of the creations were amazing. It was all really fun and everyone was getting along very well and making new friends for the year ahead!

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.