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!


English Literature trip to ‘Othello’ at The Globe

On Tuesday 2 October, 6.1 English Literature students (along with a handful of 6.2s) embarked on another amazing trip. I’m beginning to learn fast there are many perks to doing this subject! Only a couple of weeks ago we had the opportunity to meet Simon Armitage and now we have seen Othello with Mark Rylance at the Globe.

Mark Rylance gave a very convincing performance as Iago. Surprisingly, the actor chose to portray the malcontent with a bumbling foolishness. For me this gave Iago an even more menacing air, as if his calculated evil was lying behind a simple façade.

The atmosphere of the Globe was incredible as well. With the atmosphere of this historic theatre glowing, you could feel and trace the expressions of people with all of the shocking deaths and deceits throughout the play, as if Shakespeare could see into the future and know his play would still be captivating audiences all these years later.

This Othello, directed by Claire Von Kampen, seemed to have a lot of parts omitted. It was also interesting that Iago’s wife Emilia was portrayed as regal, and is displeased with her husband, which is not at all the impression I had had before.

However, I do not want to risk dampening a brilliant day, and this play truly had everyone on the edge of their seats:  an incredible achievement for a seven hundred year old writer.

The Globe was magnificent. Othello was enrapturing. However the same cannot be said for the bus ride home, and for London traffic; as  Shakespeare once put it: “What fresh hell is this?”

Bedales hosts International Day

By Tristan Wilson, Head of Modern Languages

Thursday 4 October saw Bedales International Day. Proceedings kicked off with an international dress competition. There were some highly entertaining staff and student entries but the winning outfit was a Colombian dress worn by Miranda Ashby. At lunchtime students were treated to a generous international spread in the Dining Hall before flocking to the stalls for anything from cheese to Chinese food in the quad. Here they could buy student-made world food from France, Belgium, Greece, China and Italy or have their names written in foreign scripts. The Geography department also ran an interactive mapping event. Some maths sets were lucky enough to have maths lessons in German or Czech before heading to one of the many student and staff led workshops on offer which included Kung-Fu, Kendo, Albanian, Swedish, Origami, Model United Nations, Chinese and Modern Greek. Perhaps one of the highlights was the International Open Mic Night which proved to be an enjoyable evening featuring poems and songs in Chinese, Swedish, French, Japanese, Portuguese and an unforgettable Chinese rap.

Thank you to Charlotte Whiteside, Lola Vogel and Mia T (all 6.2) for photographing the events on the day.

Perspectives from Badley Day 2018

We hear from two students about their experiences of Badley Day 2018.

Isabella Montero (Block 5) talks about her involvement in the seven hours of music played throughout the day and Eben MacDonald (Block 3) presents his perspective in the form of an original poem, Toil’s Gift.

Isabella Montero, Block 5

Like every year, the Bedales community took a day to honour its founder, John Badley, and to respect Bedales’ ethos of head, hand and heart during whole school effort.

While all the digging and building was happening, there were a select few of us who participated in seven hours of nonstop music for students, teachers and parents throughout the day and at the evening’s donor reception.

Although the weather was not ideal, the show must go on and there were many brilliant performances in the rain. It is remarkably special to be able to all share our music as a community and work together in order to better the whole of Bedales, artistically and physically.

Eben MacDonald, Block 3

Everyone’s yoked by
Ardour; some dig, some
Rake, some cut, some
Wheelbarrow, some hammer,
I myself trudge up a hill, my
Own spine a burden to my back,
My wet hair slouched over my
Eyes, with a barrow full of

I hear hammers knock, voices
Squabber, loads being released,
Lungs aflame, rather like a gold mine.
What’s the gold here?
Is it experience from toil? is it endurance
Together? We are building a path. Yes, that’s
Right a path, we are building a path, and
While our muscles ache, we construct
What will soon benefit us all, for
Paths lead us somewhere. We are and
Shall be led somewhere.

Have you been on the Murder Hunt in the English Department?

By Lucy McIlwraith, English teacher

Last week and this, English teachers have been training blocks’ students to be detectives. We’ve all been trying out an activity called ‘Murder Hunt’ in which a whole class have to use given clues and their own organisation and discussion skills to work out Whodunnit.

Students need to work together to work out: Who was murdered, by whom, when, where, with what and why. Once they think they’ve got all the answers they can ask the teacher, who is allowed to say how many answers are correct but not which ones. The teacher gives a time limit but does not participate in the discussion or control of the room (no matter how much they want to!)

Results have been extremely interesting: Left to their own devices, classes often elect a leader and scribe, some initially talk over each other until they realise how important listening is to this task. Everyone took the task very seriously and worked well towards getting the answers.

Bedalians are a kind bunch of people and this task shows them in their element: allowing others to speak, listening, offering alternative views without conflict and working together. I’m not sure we saw any Poirots, Morses or Veras, but we did see the developing discussion skills of people who solve problems together.

Bedales International Day: 4 October 2018

By Tristan Wilson, Head of Modern Languages

Thursday 4 October will see several departments combine forces for the first Bedales International Day.

This is an opportunity for us to celebrate not only the diversity of nationalities of students at the school, but also to embrace the creativity, knowledge of language, and the customs and opportunities to learn that come along with that.

The day will kick off with an international dress competition in morning break. During lunch break, there will be stalls set out in the Quad, with some traditional activities go on and traditional food for sale in addition to the canteen’s international menu.

In the afternoon, the Bedales International Film Festival will take place, with student submissions having a chance of winning a ‘Boscar’. Finally, the day will finish in the evening with a non-English open mic event in the Lupton Hall.

This will be a great event for students from overseas, but also for those who have an interest in languages and engaging positively with people from other countries and cultures. International Day ties in with the Study Abroad Roadshow, which will be happening in the library from Period 6.

Charlemagne famously said, “To have another language is to possess a second soul”. Bedales International Day is a chance for students to show us their second soul.

Perspectives from the Duke of Edinburgh Silver Qualifying Expeditions

We hear perspectives from a Block 5 student and teacher who spent 14-16 September camping in the New Forest as part of the DofE Silver Qualifying Expeditions.

By Emilia Barnsdale-Ward, Block 5

The Expedition of the Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE) is a mixture of emotions and senses; pain, boredom, tranquillity, friendship, sweat, beauty and the novel.

Having spent the last term planning routes and sorting logistics, Block 5 students headed to the New Forest to spend three days walking and two nights camping under canvas.

The scenery of the New Forest is beautiful, though at times monotonous, with sweeping forests and open spaces occupied by wild ponies. We woke on one of the mornings to a fog hanging in the air which created an eerie but peaceful scene. On the first evening we lay staring up at the incredible stars, marvelling at the clear sky and attempting to name all the constellations above our heads.

While walking we learnt Italian and sang our favourite songs at the top of our voices. In our busy lives these experiences are few and far between; DofE provides space and time for them.

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English

Walking boots still in Bedford, tent poles mysteriously missing, farmers threatening people off their land: there is never a dull moment on DofE.

Almost a year after they began training for their Silver award, 24 Block 5 students set off for the New Forest on Friday morning determined to complete their qualifying expedition.

The weather was kind to them, with a gentle mix of sunshine and clouds very conducive to navigation. The relatively flat terrain meant most groups reached camp in the late afternoons and evening sunshine made camp craft enjoyable. Indeed, one group constructed an impressive shelter once they realised they hadn’t got the poles they needed.

Sleeping under clear, starry skies, more than one participant woke in the night to put on sensibly brought hats, gloves and extra layers or hunker further down into their sleeping bag.

A big thank you must go to Ana Simmons for exemplary organisation and calm leadership.