Block 3 experience The Tempest

To support the study of Shakespeare, the English department took all Block 3 to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre matinee performance of The Tempest in Stratford-upon-Avon on Thursday 12 January.

This was a very exciting opportunity as the production has had rave reviews including: ★★★★ ”Simon Russell Beale’s superb Prospero” The Guardian, ★★★★★ “State-of-the-art stagecraft” Financial Times and ★★★★ “The visuals are true to the hype of a breath-taking order” Daily Telegraph. The students also attended a Workshop about The Tempest at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in the morning which very effectively introduced them to the main characters, themes and ideas about staging and interpretation. The overwhelming response from the students was that it had indeed been a wonderful experience. Read some of their anonymous responses below…

256px-rsc_theatre_stratford-upon-avon_13f2005Last week, I saw The Tempest, written by Shakespeare, and performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford, directed by Gregory Doran. 

The plot of The Tempest was about two people, a father and daughter, banished to an island by Prospero’s brother, who now fills his position as Duke. On the island, Prospero has two slaves, one magical and one monster. With the help of Ariel, his sprite, he traps his brother and the rest of the royals in a storm out at sea not far from the island. When the royal party are swept ashore, Prospero makes them suffer as he once did.

Throughout the performance of The Tempest I enjoyed the character of Ariel, played by Mark Quartley. As Ariel was a sprite, his movement was very quiet and elegant – he really made you believe that he was invisible and magical.

I also enjoyed the performance of Stephano (played by Tony Jayawardena), one of the people from the ship wreck, he was the King’s butler, and throughout the play, played a very drunk character.

One of the parts that truly made the show stand-out from all the other productions of The Tempest and made it exciting to watch, were the effects, the lighting and the stage set. When Ariel first appeared on stage, he was shown as a projection on a cylinder.  One of my favourite special effect moments was a part in the storm when Gonzalo went from being on the ship, to being underwater – they showed that very well…

See what the audiences are saying about The Tempest:

Read a review of The Tempest published in The Stage
View images from the production

…The Tempest was an amazing play about Prospero (Simon Russell Beale) who was overthrown from his Dukedom by his brother Antonio (Oscar Pearce).

Prospero managed to survive thanks to Gonzalo (Joseph Mydell) a trustworthy servant who gave him books of magic, food and water.

After the wedding of the King of Naples’ daughter, a storm brings them to an island where Prospero and his daughter Miranda are stranded.

My favourite character was Ariel because he played exactly as you would imagine: light and dainty but could also be cheeky and moody. Ariel’s costume was also how most people would imagine: it was blue and it had parts with glitter and green, his hair was also quite spectacular and it had been slicked back into three spikes. Another character I thought was amazing was Juno, one of the spirits, because she really looked like a goddess and acted like one. Her dress was very big and she moved very elegantly, almost floating.

Prose, poetry and coursework in the English department

By David Anson, Head of English

It is a busy season for the English Department; 6.2s have been beavering away at a very important piece of coursework and the Block 5s are working towards the final hand-in of their coursework folder. Nevertheless, we have found the time for some superb enrichment. On Tuesday 15 November we had the pleasure of welcoming two visiting writers. Our first was acclaimed children’s author Jon Robinson who joined us to be our annual writer in residence. Jon’s Nowhere trilogy is highly acclaimed and has been awarded a number of notable prizes as well as receiving a nomination for the Carnegie Medal in 2014. Jon spent the morning with our colleagues at Dunhurst helping young writers in Block 2 and then in the afternoon Jon worked with 6.1 students who are taking the creative enrichment course – this year run by Jen Moore. Jon’s one-to-ones were extremely valuable and year on year we find this attention generates the most astonishing creative writing – look out for the 2017 ‘Poet’s Stone’ and our creative writing celebration in the Spring term.

In the evening we had the treat of poet, playwright, novelist and critic Glyn Maxwell reading in the Olivier Theatre as part of the Bedales Poetry Series. Glyn has won some significant awards for his work over the years and has extensively edited the work of Derek Walcott who is a particular favorite of mine. It was really quite special to hear both his poetry and prose being read in the theatre. Glyn had supper with some of our Sixth Form English Literature students at 50 Church Road beforehand; something we try to arrange every year. Our students had a rare opportunity to ask some very candid and insightful questions of a writer at the peak of his career.

Outdoor Work: reaping the fruits of their labour…

In Outdoor Work we have been very busy gathering the harvest produce on our doorstep and making it into all sorts of delicious winter goodies. Just some of the things we have been making are: Apple and tomato chutney, pickled rainbow beets, poached pears in elderflower champagne, elderberry cordial, hay cordial, hay salt (trust us, it’s delicious with roast lamb – Maldon sea salt with smoked hay from the Bedales fields), jam, hedgerow jelly using crab apples and hawthorn berries, plum compote, cider vinegar, apple pies, cakes, bread, pizzas…. The list goes on. There will be a selection of this produce available at reception after half term, and then before Christmas (after the 6.2 Christmas Pudding Bake) there will be mince pies and puddings. We are also expecting the lovely Jacob fleece we sent off last term to be delivered back to us before Christmas as beautiful shawls, scarves and blankets, woven by our mill in Wales. We will also be busy planting up winter bulbs and making other crafts which will make lovely gifts! Available this Saturday from 12.30 -1.30 at the bakehouse: handmade sausages from our very own Oxford Sandy and Black heritage pigs. Two piglets are for also sale – please contact Andrew for more details (


End of term news from ODW


On Sunday 12 June, Rob the shearer came to Bedales to give our 45 Jacob sheep their annual haircut. This gave us over 50kg of fleece which we have been busy sorting and combining with last year’s in order to send off and have spun into yarn to make blankets and shawls ready for Christmas.

Including this year’s lambs, we currently have over 80 sheep – some of which we would be happy to sell should any parents be interested (please email

On the pig front, Cher had her first litter of seven little piglets on Tuesday 21 June; mother and babies are doing well – she’s a natural! We are currently fattening four of the February litter ready for butchering in September. If any parents would like to discuss ordering a whole or half pig for a special event in the autumn, please get in touch.

Thanks to the BPA, our first incubation project has gone well: producing 7 chickens from 8 eggs, five are cockerels. On behalf of everybody at ODW, thank you for your support in buying our produce this year. Year-on-year we and the students hope to become more self-sufficient, learning new skills and giving back to the school as a whole.


Thoughts from an outgoing 6.2

Becky Grubbjpg

Over the past few weeks, 6.2 flat has grown increasingly quiet as more of us depart having finished the last of our exams. It has not been unusual to see those leaving become emotional when it hits them: when their bags are packed and they leave their friends still swamped in folders and practice papers. Having finished the last of my exams on Tuesday, l don’t believe it has quite hit me yet.

As an initial reflection on the past year and my time here as a whole, I can’t imagine another place I would have rather conducted and concluded my school education. It strikes me as a rarity to find a place that can offer the freedom this school does. The freedom and space to think, to exercise and to spend time with the people you have grown to love and care for- especially during the exam season – is often taken for granted.

I believe it is this freedom which truly motivates and sustains us. At this time, conversation does tend to turn to the future and the dreaded question: “and what will you be doing next year?”, but there is also a fond reflection on the past and “what more would you have done?” Discussing the latter with fellow 6.2s, we settled on one main thing we would have done if we relived our Bedales education. We decided we would have written a diary starting at Block 3, if not sooner, not just for comic-value but as a reminder and record of all our experiences. I think of this, what it would look like and how full it would be; I think Bedales encourages people to leave with a weighty volume, a full and well-used diary.

While the many empty pages ahead will always be daunting, I am immensely grateful for the freedom I have had so far to fill the pages with numerous and various experiences and to have shared them with such a supportive and special bunch of people.

Prize Work

Bedales Memorial Library Interior

How do you reward outstanding achievement if you don’t want to encourage competition between students? Bedales did away with comparative class lists very early on, because we believe that encouraging students to do their best is better than encouraging them simply to do better than others. This is a typical Bedalian dilemma, but one for which Badley had an elegant solution.

‘Prize Work’ was “…not for competition but as reward for anything that was shown up of special merit…for many years the annual show of ‘prize-work’ was one of the most characteristic features of the School” (J.H. Badley, Memories and Reflections, p.124). In order to recognise some of the outstanding independent academic work our students undertake, we are reviving the tradition of Prize Work this year. All students are invited to enter a piece of independent work they have done over the summer. It can be in any academic subject, and could be any kind of thing, for example…

  • a sketchbook of technical diagrams of birds or leaves
  • a program or an App
  • a project to research an area of interest, and write an essay
  • a translation of a short story or poem

It must be their own, and it must not be school work, as this has been assessed already. It can, however, build on school work with additional research and editing. It is a great thing to do if a university application is imminent, and a great way for students to stretch themselves whatever Block they are in. I would like to encourage you to take part!

Submission details here.

By Clare Jarmy, Head of Academic Enrichment and Religious Studies and Philosophy

How the market prevails where the state has failed

This Wednesday I gave my first assembly at Bedales. I found myself strangely nervous at the prospect of addressing the young Bedalians, but not because I felt intimidated speaking to so many people all at once, or because I was nervous of slipping up and embarrassing myself. No, rather, I was unsettled because I was going to talk about something very close to my heart, something that would bring to the surface thoughts from my past, possibly sending me on a roller-coaster of emotions that would take me back to another time – you could say another world.

I wanted to tell young Bedalians about this other world: a hidden Britain that very few of them know of, despite it being a life that a substantial proportion of their national peers lead.  I grew up on a council estate in a deprived and impoverished ex-mining community – welcome to life in the benefits-class: an industrial splinter of the working classes, a thorn in the nation’s side, an apparent plague sweeping the nation and robbing our taxes. The media demonises it, acting as a fascist vehicle in a bid to earn ratings from the latest reality TV concept. I wanted to tell the youthdem ‘don’t believe the hype’, I wanted to tell them the truth that Britain so often ignores – our class system is one of the worst in Europe. In fact, I feel it would be more appropriately defined as a satanic-caste system (i.e. no caste mobility) where Krishna has been replaced by Lucifer and we dwell in a socio-economic hell. This is a hell I have experienced first-hand and I feel I have come to understand it as it is, rather than what the hype would lead you to believe. Sadly, it is perpetuated by both our outdated education and political systems. I wanted to make Bedalians aware of this, and furthermore, I wanted them to know that they all have the power to affect change in the world.

It may seem strange that a Doctor of Chemistry and qualified teacher who works at one of the country’s top public schools associates himself so strongly with the precariat, but as my dad said, class is defined by where you are from. My mum on the other hand, believes class is about education. Whilst I agree that both statements have their own value, I lean towards my dad’s definition. As we say in the valleys, ‘you can take the boy out of the valleys but you will never take the valleys out of the boy’. As a result of my childhood experiences, I strongly associate myself as working class; for me it’s cultural – and a large part of my identity, an identity that has led me down this career path. I am not a teacher out of a desire to teach Chemistry, rather, I went into teaching to help inspire, motivate and enable the working-class youth and show them by example that they can succeed – despite both their government and education system being against them. However, I soon realised I was fighting a losing battle trying to force 21st century students into a 19th century model of education. I left dispirited, wounded and literally swearing I would never teach again: it felt like a waste of my own education.

So how on earth did I end up here, teaching kids at one of the most prestigious schools in the country? Well I met my colleague, Liz Stacy, who along with some friends, convinced me to give teaching (albeit at Bedales) one more go.  Now it almost seems like fate; I have never enjoyed teaching so much and I feel both lucky and proud to be an active member of this community. More pertinently, I feel on-track to help the disadvantaged youth more than ever.

Ironically (and rather sadly), the private sector has provided me with opportunities that the state was just not geared-up to deal with. Bedales has not only reignited my passion for teaching and learning, it has also provided me with more efficient fuel and power to affect change. For example, you wouldn’t be reading this now if I were still working for the government in the state sector; neither would I be in the process of formulating outreach work with Hampshire’s inclusion unit, I wouldn’t have met Mike Fairclough, Bill Lucas and Sir Michael Wilshaw, I wouldn’t have been inspired by our Bedales Assessed Courses to see that there is more we can do as a society to side-step the totalitarian bureaucrats of Westminster and Whitehall.  I wouldn’t be talking about the situation to parents who have children at Eton. In fact I probably wouldn’t be a teacher at all!

So when people ask me how I can claim to be a teacher to help the disadvantaged youth, considering I work at such a privileged school, I tell them simply that I am here because this market provides more opportunity for educational reform than our out-dated democracy does. That said, I want to make it clear that I think making all schools into academies would have been a disastrous move, more to follow on that…

By Scott Charlesworth, Teacher of Chemistry
Read Scott’s Huffington Post articles