Politics students attend Westminster conference

By Jonathan Selby, Head of Government and Politics

A group of 6.1 Politics students went to an A Level Politics Conference held in the vast Methodist Hall at Westminster on Monday, 3 December.

As the hall is very near Parliament, well known politicians come across and speak to the audience of approximately 2,000 students. The format is that the politician addresses the hall on a particular issue for ten minutes and then takes questions, some of them difficult (there is no vetting procedure!) for 20 minutes.

The conference started with an address by Sir John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, who explained how he saw his role and he spoke very clearly. He was asked a question about bullying culture in the House; he himself has had his name raised on this issue, which he hotly denied.

Sir Vince Cable, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, gave an erudite exposition of his line on Europe and the audience was broadly sympathetic. He responded honestly to an inevitable question about broken promises on tuition fees.

Nigel Farage drew a lively response, claiming along the way that he alone was responsible for the disappearance of the far-right British National Party (BNP). He challenged the audience to name the current leader of UKIP – and one student knew the correct answer, Gerrard Batten.

Chuka Umunna spoke smoothly – some felt a little too smoothly – for Labour and was followed by perhaps the least effective speaker, Emily Thornberry. In response to a question about Jeremy Corbyn’s links to terrorists, she lost her temper and unfortunately turned on the student posing the question. It was, after all, a perfect opportunity for her to refute the charge.

Nicky Morgan (former Minister for Education) spoke in a balanced way about Brexit.

Perhaps the most persuasive speaker was Jess Phillips, the feisty Labour MP who campaigns tirelessly and fearlessly for women’s rights. She dealt with some mildly chauvinist questions effectively and was persuasive, honest and fun. Her book, Everywoman, would make a good addition to anyone’s Christmas list.

The afternoon was rounded off by the inimitable Jacob Rees-Mogg, who answered questions directly and honestly, including one on his views on abortion which were not in sympathy with the student body. I need not remind you of his views on Brexit!

This was a most worthwhile and enjoyable day, but unfortunately there were not enough tickets for all the 6.1 students, which was a shame as I could have filled the allocation three times over.

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Spanish study trip to Bilbao

By Lily McGregor, 6.1

Last weekend we went to Bilbao as in 6.2 we will study El Otro Árbol de Guernica, which is primarily based in Bilbao. We walked through lots of the streets and plazas that appear in the book. We all took lots of photos as Melanie Jimenez (Bedales Head of Spanish) summarised the relevant parts of the book. It was extremely helpful to have this deeper background information and I now can’t wait to read the book!

We went to the Museum of Peace which offered lots of facts and stories about the Spanish Civil War, which is when the book is set. There, we sat in a room whilst an audio played of a woman telling a heart-breaking story about the struggle of war. This was prominent as the two protagonists in the book – Santi and his sister Begoña – were evacuated and probably went through a similar experience. That same day we also went to visit the tree after which the book is named. We learnt that it was there that all the important decisions were made and that the officials made their vows to the villages and laws of Euskadi around that very tree. There, there was a beautiful building where the decisions took place and it also displayed a stunning stained-glass ceiling.

During the trip we went to many eateries that boasted traditional Spanish food. We tried croquettes, Spanish ham and churros just to name a few.

On the last day we visited the Guggenheim museum which was a brilliant way to end a great weekend. In pairs we strolled around whilst admiring the works of Cezanne, Picasso, Giacometti, Van Gogh and many more.

Overall it was a trip that none of its participants shall forget, I just hope they do it again next year so I can do it all again!

Christmas Pudding Bake… and festive produce now on sale

By Nicoletta Draper, 6.2

Last Friday night, keen 6.2 students gathered in Outdoor Work (ODW) excited for the festive evening ahead, the Christmas Pudding Bake. We huddled in the black barn, watching a classic film and warming up with Christmas treats. There was mulled apple juice and freshly baked cookies which were quickly eaten along with the enjoyment of being able to roast marshmallows on the fire. Groups of us went in to do the jobs, baking cookies, making the pudding batter, placing it in bowls and wrapping them up. The making of the Christmas pudding took many people to complete which required team skills and enthusiasm. Thankfully, the atmosphere was amazing, carols were being sung, the candles gave the barn a beautiful Christmas look and the ODW teachers wholeheartedly showed us the skills and recipes of the baking. A total of 98 puddings were made, which will be available to buy at the ODW shop in school along with other Christmas produce.

By Feline Charpentier, ODW Teacher

 

The Outdoor Work elves have been busy this term, filling our farm shop shelves with lots of Christmas produce. Chutneys, jams, jellies, pickles, herbal teas, granola, flour, and our own apple cider vinegar, plus handmade natural cosmetics like lavender bath salts all make lovely Christmas gifts. We also have our beautiful Jacob wool blankets, scarves and fleeces for sale. Our annual 6.2 Christmas pudding bake made almost 100 delicious puddings, in small (for 2-4 people, £8), medium (for 6-8, £10) and some very large (for 10-12, £14). We will also be baking our unique apple cider mince pies almost every day now, sold in boxes of six. We make our own all-butter pastry and fill it with handmade mincemeat, made with our orchard apples cooked with brown sugar, apricots, spices, cider and lots of dried fruit. The shop is always open, when we are there. Monday to Friday, come on up and have a look at everything our lovely students/elves have been making! All money we make goes back to supporting the farm. Thank you for ongoing support.

Kate Adie delivers Global Awareness Lecture

By Abi Wharton, Head of Global Awareness

On Wednesday 7 November, the annual Global Awareness Lecture was delivered by Kate Adie CBE to a sold- out crowd, in the year which she was awarded the BAFTA fellowship. Kate framed her experiences in response to the question of how journalists play a role in protecting human rights – one of the key themes in the Global Awareness BAC.

Kate talked movingly about her progression from an accidental foray into local journalism which led to her becoming the BBC’s Chief News Correspondent from 1989 to 2003 and a career which included reporting on a series of kidnaps in Sardinia; being arrested in Belgrade trying to gather material about General Tito. She also spoke about the two foreign assignments she is most often associated with – the American bombing of the Libyan capital Tripoli in 1986 and the Chinese authorities’ killing of protestors in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, in 1989.

Kate gave rare insight into what it means to be a journalist and how difficult it often is not to get involved with the event. She was clear that the role of a journalist is to expose the truth in order for others to then be able to react. Kate also spoke about the changes to the news seen over recent years and how the access to instant information has cut right at the heart of how we access and interpret information. This was a salutary lesson for the audience, particularly for those who are learning how to use conflicting evidence which is presented to us 24 hours a day.

Despite the many atrocities Kate has witnessed, she reaffirmed her belief in humanity. She was clear that good journalism is all about understanding people and their own stories – a chord that struck deep with the audience.

Students’ Swaziland Project

By Jo-Lea Edery, 6.2

In the half term break, 22 students and five teachers ventured off on an expedition to Southern Africa. Our destination? A small landlocked country called Swaziland. Our goal? To provide a sustainable, free supply of clean drinking water to a primary school in need, but first we had to get there.

After a seemingly endless flight and a series of car journeys, we arrive at the residence that we would occupy for the week. The scenery of Swaziland was very rustic and beautiful, in any direction you looked the view could be considered ‘postcard’ worthy. The warm hues blended with casual herds of cattle, antelope, wildebeest, and even the occasional crocodile, most of which could be seen at close range during the optional early morning walks at 6am.

The general routine for the rest of the day involved the trickle of aching and half-awake students in and out of breakfast and bed, where we would get ready for the day by packing the essentials: sunscreen (SPF 30+), sunglasses, bug spray, hats, and a packed lunch. This all occurred between 6:30 to 8:15, where there would be a war of finding all the best snacks and items before they were used up for the packed lunches. Then we were off to the school…

Arriving at the school grounds always energised the drowsy buses. The cheers, smiles and greetings of the children, officiated the beginning of the day. As the week progressed, our relationship with the children deepened. Trust developed and friendships formed: possibly through the daily football games, dance sessions and photo shoots.

But our journey wasn’t just for fun and games, there was work to be done. Jobs ranged from digging trenches with pickaxes and hoes, painting the walls, and constructing new desks to teaching lessons in English. The students’ breaks from their classes and our breaks from work were simultaneous, allowing for the various activities and games mentioned above. Trenches were dug, pipes were laid down, murals finished drying, and desks were bolted.

After each day of work students would either go to the supermarket to shop for dinner or head back home. A different group was responsible for dinner each night, buying enough groceries to qualify for a maths problem, while the others would entertain themselves in a WiFi-free environment with card games, reading, and board games (our favourite being ‘Game of the Goose’). After demolishing the delicious food prepared by the students we would sit around for our evening meeting and be on our way to bed exhausted at this point.

By the end of six days of hard toil in the Swazi sun the group had achieved digging in excess of 350 metres of trenching for water pipes, all necessary plumbing for a water storage tank, four taps and two sinks whilst installing 45 desk tops, the painting of three buildings, painting of three signs and a the school’s entrance! This was a truly excellent effort by everyone involved.

On the last day of work, there was a tremendous amount of satisfaction in the air as we collectively overlooked the last of the trenches being filled and attended the resurrection of the water pump that would bring fresh water to the pipes. This was all made possible by a combination of the money we raised and the work we put in collectively, not to mention the fabulous group of staff that had also volunteered to participate in this amazing experience by looking after us and all of our shenanigans.

Overall I’m glad I had the opportunity to contribute to such a well-rounded and rewarding trip, even if it does mean that I had to trade in Swaziland’s welcoming sun for England’s grey skies.

None of this fantastic contribution to Hawane Primary school would have been possible without all of the generous donations by so many people connected in some way to the Bedales community – you have all helped to make a tremendous difference to a school and wider community in need.

Bedales celebrates Biology Week

By Clover Skerry and Maisy Redmayne, 6.2

Last Friday, Block 3 students participated in the ‘Bio Art Attack’ competition run by the Royal Society of Biology as part of Biology Week which sees events take place all over the world to celebrate biological science.

As part of the activity we went for a walk around site to collect autumn leaves and late flowers. We went back to the lab and used what we collected to create a palisade cell art piece. After this, we used the spare leaves to make landscape and nature scenes, which we also sent off to be judged for Art Attack.

Other Block 3s have been working on models and posters of  plant and animal cells for the competition.

Last week a budding group of sixth form biologists undertook dissections, as a celebration of Biology Week. Everyone seemed to think that chopping up rats and cuttlefish was a fun activity for a Thursday evening. Our specimens were swiftly dismembered and examined giving an invaluable insight into some basic anatomy. I hope that we are able to hold future dissections which will be met with equal enthusiasm.

First impressions of the Putney School

By Freya Hannan-Mills, Block 4

The Putney School is extraordinary. At every moment someone or something is happening which is completely unique to both the school and its environment.

At Putney, the academic subjects are not taught in isolation, instead they are a brew of different curriculum areas all blending together into one class. For example, I am taking the ‘Humans in the Natural World’ class and we are studying the Colombian exchange and how stories are created. The class is an intriguing mix of geography, history and English and uses the students’ knowledge and skills in all those areas.

Apart from the classes we are also taking on activities and jobs. The activities vary from tai chi to digital photography, ultimate Frisbee, hiking and many more. You get the sense that nothing at Putney is done half-heartedly and this certainly goes for the jobs. So far, everyone’s jobs have been in the barn – some at 5am in the morning, and others at 4.40pm.

The barn is an experience! My personal practical knowledge about shovelling cow manure is very limited to say the least, but in an odd way the students here have an infectious enthusiasm towards doing it. Their commitment and energy makes it enjoyable and the milk and cheese they make is amazing.

The campus is picture postcard gorgeous,though I seem to be continually getting lost – mainly as I have no sense of direction. However, wherever I end up it’s always crazy beautiful.

Unlike Bedales, here the dorms are split into a number of smaller buildings. I’m staying in a picturesque building which almost feels Hobbit like, partly because the view outside is of wild Nature but also because it has a huge tree growing right thought the centre of it.

Jake is staying in one of the cabins in the woods – being there makes you want to give up on the 21st century and just move in.

Apart from the classes and the setting, what really embodies Putney, is the people. Everyone here is so bubbly, welcoming and always there to lend a hand and help us when we get desperately lost!