Block 5 China experience


By Oscar Clark and Isabella Barty-King, Block 5


We left for Beijing, via Frankfurt, early on the Thursday before half term and landed in Beijing at a similar time on Friday, marking the first day of our battle against tiredness. We went straight from the airport to see the Temple of Heaven which gave us our first taste of the amazing historical sights Beijing has to offer.

At the end of the day we went to see an acrobatics show, at the end of the show there was a steel globe with 7 motorbikes riding fast around the inside.  It certainly helped to keep us excited and awake! Our stay in Beijing was packed to the brim with incredible sightseeing including the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Summer Palace. The highlight of our time in Beijing was the five hour round trip to Emily Seeber’s favourite spot on the Great Wall, which did not disappoint. After roughly an hour of walking steeply uphill we were gazing along the monumental structure as it stretched into the distance, zigzagging along the mountain range and eventually dipping over the IMG_4236horizon.

After an amazing few days in Beijing we pulled our luggage onto the overnight train to Xi’an and settled down for a night on the tracks. This was the most fun, with four packed into each cabin and barely enough room to move.  You’d think it would have been a disaster but it still remains my favourite part.  We were woken by weary guards warning us of our impending arrival at Xi’an. Our time in the city was short and entertaining and jam-packed.  It was actually my favourite city out of all three. A highlight was our visit to the terracotta warriors, where we spent hours looking at the different soldiers.  We also made our own terracotta warriors, learnt about the ancient history and took a beautiful bike ride along the city wall.

IMG_4193All too soon we were flying out of Xi’an, south east towards our final destination – Shanghai. We landed, ate and slept, preparing to meet our Chinese counterparts at the school the next day. We met our buddies from the high school, mine being Jason and Thomas, a scientist and a mathematician. We then spent the rest of the day exploring a water village just outside Shanghai which was almost Venetian in style. We spent the day with two of the maths teachers from the school and you may remember them as having visited Bedales last year. The penultimate day of activities was spent at the school, sitting in on English and art lessons, playing a seven-a-side game of football against them and, to round off our time at the school, we watched short presentations from the students on the music, fashion and culture of China. We then left the school in pairs to have dinner with our buddies and their families, all round Shanghai.

IMG_3970We spent our last day in central Shanghai, walking around the French concession where we visited a museum on the history of propaganda. In the evening we spent a very interesting hour in a karaoke bar which was rounded off with a short award ceremony and a big thank you to our national tour guide, Joyce.

It was a truly amazing trip giving a remarkable insight into the history and culture of the fastest growing economy in the world and a wondrous opportunity to see new things first hand. On behalf of all of the students, we would like to say a huge thank you to all the staff who made this fantastic experience possible.

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Bedales Historians visit Russia

Grand Palace Kremlin 1

By Nicholas Meigh, Teacher of History

The 6.2 History tour to Russia seems, on paper, a short visit of six days, but the content and variety of places visited means that the students experienced a huge amount.

A select group of 22 historians led by myself, Alison Mason (Professional Guidance) and Jane Shannon (Learning Support) set off for Moscow on 2 April. The focus of the visit was naturally historical and the group visited many of the sites of revolutionary Russia. Perhaps the highlight of this city was the extensive visit to the Kremlin; here the group not only trod the usual tourist trail but had the privilege of visiting parts of the Grand Palace that are usually off limits. We were treated to a private tour of the oldest surviving 15th Century parts of the original fortress and to the lavishly restored state rooms.

We travelled by overnight train to the imperial capital, St Petersburg, where we experienced the artistic riches of Russia in the State Hermitage Museum whilst also remembering the role of the city in the revolution with a visit to the Political History Museum. A favourite venue of St Petersburg is the sumptuous Yusopov Palace, infamous now for being the place in which Rasputin was murdered in a variety of ways.

The group experienced the full range of Russian culture in the evenings from watching the traditional folkshow – with special guest star, student Orlando Goffin – to attending a production of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty in the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St Petersburg.

View the slide show below.

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Dubai exchange and ‘Play in a Day’


Six Bedales students travelled to Dubai College on Tuesday 6 December to start their six-day long adventure writes Liz Richards, Teacher of Dance…

Little did they know how busy they would be throughout the whole week. Performance, choreography, devising, rehearsal, creation… the list was endless, by the end of their busy week, they were certainly ready for the Christmas break. The students took with them a 35 minute piece that they performed a total of six times, and they lead a series of rich creative workshops and brought together their Bedalian experiences to share with the Dubai College students.

On reflection, the students have come back with a greater understanding of performing to different types of audiences, understanding the different needs of the various performance spaces and the importance of time-management and planning when leading workshops, all of which are important skills to help support their current studies. However, most of all, the students commented that experiencing the different culture was the biggest learning curve, they explained that no matter how much you read in preparation, you need to experience it to be able to understand it fully.

View the ‘Play in a Day’ below and scroll down to view the slideshow


Staying with our hosts
By Imi Gibbon

img_7290While we were in Dubai, we all stayed with students from Dubai College. We stayed in pairs with host families who took us to the college each day for around 7:15am. The host students Josh, Kim and Ariyike (6.1 students) and their families were all very welcoming and we all became very good friends. One morning we were even taken for a traditional Emirati breakfast in a restaurant at the beach nearby, we ate Zalabia (dough balls), Shak shouka (eggs and veg) and Karak tea, all of which were delicious. Staying with families in Dubai meant we were able to experience Dubai and its culture from their point of view, rather than from a tourist perspective. It was also a really fun part of the whole Dubai trip because they organised trips that as a tourist we may not have experienced.

The Dubai workshops
By Orlando Goffin

dubai-dance-13Taking part in workshops with students from Dubai Collage was rewarding yet challenging. Having never held a workshop with more than five or six people it was a step out of our comfort zones. We worked with students of different ages, ranging from primary school to upper sixth. Each workshop we did differed from the last because of the level of attention or help required. We each took turns to lead workshops based on the piece we took out to Dubai to perform; we explained our inspiration for the piece and the process we went through to get the finished product. Within each workshop, we would look at specific sections from the piece, for example an extract that specifically looked at characterisation. We each developed a character and dialogue for someone who was traveling abroad; including their name, age, where they were travelling to and five items they took with them. Using this section in one workshop we asked the students to pair up and develop their own characters, with the same requirements. We would spend the workshop aiding them, watching what they developed and then further developing their work. At first these workshops were scary as we were used to an environment where we would host workshops with our peers. Though at first we struggled to keep ideas flowing and to hold a workshop, this skill soon became second nature to us thanks to the advice and support that our teachers provided.

Play in a Day
By Anastasia Sheldon

dubai-dance-17After working with the Dubai College students for four days we collaborated together to create a performance based on our piece about travel. We split into two groups to create and develop movement and scenes individually. We worked and explored each of our strengths, using our physicality and dance skills to develop the movement side of ideas, and the Dubai students’ theatrical skills to deepen our characters and narrative storyline. Focusing on scenes from our piece, we developed and changed the dialogue and structure a little to suit twenty people rather than six. This meant spending lots of time on entrances and exits and finer details to make sure it still made sense. We then blended these scenes with the new material we had created to tell one story. After working together for about six hours, we had finally finished and it was ready to be presented to parents and their Head Teacher, Mike Lambert. He was very impressed with what we had created in such a short length of time. We received lots of praise from parents and our own teachers, also getting a chance to talk about the process and stimulus and what really inspired us to create the scenes we had just performed. All of us had really bonded during this experience and it was so much fun with the Dubai students, who we all became very close with. It allowed us to really combine our skills to create something exciting. (view the film at the top of the page. or by clicking here).

Dubai as tourists
By Daisy Hannam

img_5108We had one day off from performing and leading workshops where we could be a tourist for the day in Dubai. We walked around the gold, fabric and spice souks where some of us bought small traditional presents for family back home. To get across the canal we travelled in a water taxi that cost all eight of us just £1.50 in total. Then we had lunch in the old town, a very quaint little coffee shop that was hidden from the beaten track. That evening we went into the desert for some dune-bashing in 4x4s, we went high and low over the sand dunes which was very fun. Then we had a traditional dinner full of meat, rice and salad and watched performances like belly dancing and fire eating. One afternoon we went up the Burj Khalifa (the tallest in building in the world) which was incredible and spent some time in the Dubai Mall, where there was a huge aquarium wall with lots of fishes and sharks. It was really good to be able to see Dubai as the culture is so different to ours.

By Fergus Steele

dubai-dance-18The six of us performed our dance and drama piece to audiences of a variety of ages, the first of which being our own age group. As it was the first performance we were all pretty nervous as not only did we need to impress our hosts, but we all knew deep down that there was one specific section of the dance that was very complicated. After we got through our first performance we did not have time to be nervous for the others as in one day we had two performances sandwiched between workshops to keep us busy. We were really happy with how the performances went and we were all pleased that there were moments of laughter from the audience when we needed it. The contrast between this audience’s reaction and the audience of ages 13-14 was weirdly large. It seemed as though they found the whole piece quite serious, so we started to understand we needed to tailor the performance to our audience age each time we performed it. Having to perform in different spaces without a lot of time to rehearse was very challenging however, towards the end we were able to really work on this as a strength. Our final performance was actually our best as every single part went to plan, allowing us to leave Dubai on an extremely good note.

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Poetry from Les Menuires


Over the Christmas break, 18 students went on a ski trip to Les Menuires, in the Belleville valley of Les Trois Vallées between Saint-Martin-de-Belleville and Val Thorens and produced this poetic response, below:

ski-image-video-buttonBedales Ski Trip 2016,
18 students, all very keen,
We were in short supply of natural snow,
But cruised down mountains from high to low.

The advanced groups were ready to get started,
And all were sad when we finally departed,
The beginners all had lots of fun,
And even aced some difficult runs.

The weather was sunny and not too chilly,
Chloe and Abbie wore onesies willy-nilly,
On one evening we whipped out some sledges,
And certain individuals crashed into hedges.

Graeme’s games nights will go down in history,
But asking Block 4s to timetable is a mystery,
Lucy and Richie gambled with a table football prize,
The loser became a slave with some human rights deprived!

img_7154Bananagrams brought a competitive game,
Can Phoebe and Freya take Graeme’s so called fame?
Spencer joined in, difficult pool shots making a fuss.
And even taught some poker to us.

Everyone was pumped after a roller coaster success,
This thrilling ride put no one at rest,
Devlin was master of his own knowledge quiz,
But full of facts, Hermione was a whizz.

In just dance Meg and Boo had groove,
But it was Josh that went for it with his unique moves,
Luca and Neri showed skills on the slopes,
Millie’s helpful linguistics helped us to cope.

Cassius claimed victory in the After Eight game,
Amelia’s fashion sense was far from lame,
Graeme was forced to make his own fun,
But his “Guess the Ingredients” game impressed no one!
We wish a speedy recovery to Lucy’s broken wrist,
And to Miranda and Tilly who collided in snowy mist,img_7101
Everyone involved made it a great trip,
But now we must catch up on some well-deserved kip!

Special thanks to Helen, who organised the whole affair,
She was involved in all the fun and games with a dancing flare,
Also, we wish her a happy birthday (woo hoo!)
And to all, thank you, it wouldn’t have been the same without you!

-Freya and Phoebe, Block 4


Barcelona: How can I forget?


During half term the U15 X1 hockey and tennis team players went on a trip to Barcelona with Helen, Graeme and Peter. We all enjoyed a very good opportunity to experience working with other amazing coaches that inspired us all to strive for greatness. We played against national and club level teams learning a lot from them, and used their tactics to improve our own game, as they had very different ways of playing. We learnt a lot of different skills that we had never accomplished before, for instance, a back-hand hit in tennis. Because of this fantastic experience, we feel like we have improved, not just as individuals but as a team. A special ‘thank you’ to Peter for stepping in at the last minute while Kevin was on paternity leave, and thank you to Helen and Graeme for taking us.

By Hannah Mazas, Block 4

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During half term a group of the senior tennis team hit Barcelona. The five days consisted of at least two two-hour training sessions alongside a gym and stretching session. The days then ended with a rewarding sit in the sauna. During the tour we played two matches against Spanish opposition which Bedales won comfortably. The most notable match featured Oscar Goldblatt who saved eight match points before eventually winning 7-6.

By Maud Bonham Carter, 6.1

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!