6.1 Biologists hear from country’s leading scientists

By Richard Sinclair, Head of Biology

In January, a group of 6.1 Biologists travelled to the Apollo Theatre, Victoria, to hear a series of lectures by some of the country’s leading scientists as part of the Science Live: A-Level series.

Firstly we heard from Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore from UCL, who spoke about the complexities of the teenage brain and her team’s cutting edge experiments which reveal how behaviour is affected by the environment and how we relate to each other through this period of our lives. Sarah-Jayne explained that adolescence is a period of great vulnerability, but also one of enormous creativity which should be acknowledged and celebrated.

Next was Professor Robert Winston, who was the speaker at Bedales’ Eckersley Lecture in 2013. He spoke about manipulating human reproduction from his work on in vitro fertilization through to regenerative medicine such as stem cell research and epigenetics, which may turn out to be the most important biological development in the years to come. He warned though that manipulating the human will always be dangerous, uncertain and unpredictable.

Dr Jenny Rohn’s entertaining talk was entitled Revenge of the Microbes. She explained how there are 100 trillion bacterial cells on our bodies and how more and more are becoming resistant to antibiotics. Bacteria go through around 500 generations in just a week, which gives them an enormous advantage as they can evolve resistance to antibiotics extremely quickly.

Dr Adam Rutherford’s lecture focused on DNA, which he described as “the saga of how we came to be who we are today”. He told the fascinating story of how the body of Richard III, who was found buried under a car park in Leicester, was identified by DNA analysis and announced that everyone from Western European descent would be related to the British Royal Family if we traced our family trees back through enough generations.

Finally, Dr Ben Goldacre talked about the importance the media should play in correctly reporting scientific research, focussing on the MMR scandal in particular. Although Andrew Wakefield, the author of the MMR report, was blamed by journalist as the only one at fault, Dr Goldacre argued that the media were equally guilty as missing trials, badly designed research and biased dissemination of evidence were reported at the time as important scientific breakthroughs, while evidence showing no link to autism from the MMR vaccine published in peer reviewed academic journals was ignored.

Overall these lectures showed us just a few examples of the enormous range of scientific enquiry that encompasses the subject of biology and how it continues to shape our lives.

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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.

Students attend US State Department’s webcast

Ocean acidification is a process that is threatening much of the flora and fauna in the world’s seas. It is closely linked to global warming (both being affected by increased CO2 emissions) and it is a massive problem. 6.1 biologists and geographers attended the Our Ocean conference webcast at the US Embassy last week and, once safely through passport control, joined a live streamed link to the US State Department and John Kerry’s keynote speech. A speech by Leonardo DiCaprio also served to highlight the urgent need for action. There was an entertaining Q&A session with US Ambassador Matthew W Barzun and academics from Imperial College discussed the underlying scientific issues. This was a great opportunity for students to see how the world is tackling a big environmental problem and to consider whether the responses will be effective. It was also an interesting opportunity to visit the embassy before it gets converted into a hotel!

By  Richard Sinclair, Head of Science

Our Oceans conference

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Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

Sixth Form Biologists enjoy DNA and Genetics lectures

Last Wednesday, Sixth Form biologists travelled to London for a day of lectures on DNA and Genetics at the Education Centre of the University of London. We first heard from Professor Paul Sharpe (Kings College), who talked about the future of teeth and how through some genetic engineering, they might in the future be able to re-grow themselves when knocked out. Then Professor Mark Jobling (University of Leicester) spoke about DNA fingerprinting in forensic science and told us some interesting stories about how it has grown and is used in tracking down criminals. Next was a talk on the use of artificial materials being used in the body to potentially replace organs from Molly M. Stevens (Imperial College). There was an interactive talk about mutations in DNA and how this can affect your genes and make you ‘super human’ and finally, Dr Kevin Fong (UCL), who is a presenter for Horizon documentaries, talked to us about the extreme limits your body can go to and told a story of a girl who died for three hours and then came back to life. Once the nerves in her arms and legs had recovered, she was fine, able to move and had no brain damage.

By Poppy Duncan and Emily Blackley, 6.1

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Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

Experiments with superconductors

The Friday before last, PhD student Jessica Spurrell from the Institute of Cryogenics at Southampton University visited the Science department to talk about her research in the field of superconductors. Jessica brought with her some liquid nitrogen (at a temperature of -200°C) with which she demonstrated how to freeze the plastic coating from electrical flex, leaving just bare wire, froze a banana and then used it to hammer a nail in a piece of wood, and made a magnet levitate over a frozen metal block. She then spoke on the uses of superconductors such as Maglev (magnetic levitation) trains, MRI scans, computing and electrical generation. After the lecture, students had great fun trying out the demos for themselves. View photos.

By Mary Shotter, Biology Technician

Experiments with superconductors

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Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

Biologists explore Exmoor, sand dunes and shores

It was a wet and windy visit to Somerset undertaken by the 6.2 biologists recently. Staying at the Field Studies Centre at Nettlecombe Court in a secluded valley on the eastern edge of Exmoor National Park, the students visited Exmoor to look at invertebrates in a stream, Braunton to see the impressive sand-dune system, and Watchet to work on a rocky shore. They returned to school a bit tired and windswept – but much the wiser on ecology. View photos.

By Richard Sinclair, Head of Science

Biologists explore Exmoor, sand dunes and shores

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Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

Best ever A* GCSE performance at Bedales

Bedales celebrated impressive exam results on GCSE results day with over half the grades awarded at A* or A. Unlike any other school, Bedales students tailor their studies by choosing a combination of GCSEs, the more challenging IGCSEs, and the school’s unique GCSE alternative, Bedales Assessed Courses (BACs). All three qualifications use the same A*-G grading system. This year’s cohort achieved 29% A* grades, higher than any of their predecessors since the current curriculum was started in 2008.

The content of BACs is broad and stimulating offering cross curricular opportunities that are suited to a wide variety of learning styles. Internal assessment includes a mixture of written assignments, presentations, projects and performances, together with terminal examinations as appropriate. Bedales is the first school to be recognised by UCAS as offering its own GCSE-replacement qualification.

12 Bedales students achieved a minimum of nine A* grades; three of those achieving 11A*s and three achieving 10A*s.  In total 21 students (from a cohort of 92) achieved a minimum of nine grade A*/As.

Lili Bidwell from West Meon, Poppy Duncan from Stroud and Juliette Perry from Petersfield all achieved 11A*s. Chloe Green from Liss, Robert Miller from London and Phoebe Noble from Chichester all received 10A*s. Lili obtained A*s in Bedales Assessed Courses Classical Music, English Literature and Philosophy, Religion & Ethics, IGCSEs in Mathematics and Triple Award Science, and GCSEs in English, French, History and Spanish.  Poppy achieved her A*s Bedales Assessed Courses in Classical Music, English Literature and Geography, IGCSEs Mathematics and Triple Award Science, and GCSEs in English, French, Latin and Spanish. Juliette received A*s Bedales Assessed Courses in Design, English Literature, Geography and Philosophy, Religion & Ethics, IGCSEs in Mathematics and Triple Award Science, and GCSEs in English, French and History.

Twins Emily and Natasha Blackley from Priors Dean achieved a total of 18A*s and 4As between them; nine A*s and 2As each. They both achieved A*s in their Bedales Assessed Course in Geography, IGCSEs in Mathematics and Triple Award Science, and GCSE French, as well as an A in GCSE English. Emily also received A*s in her Bedales Assessed Courses in Ancient Civilisations and Dance, and GCSE Spanish, and an A in GCSE History, while Natasha obtained A*s in her Art, Design and English Literature Bedales Assessed Courses and an A in GCSE Latin.

Commenting on the students’ achievements, Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools said:

“Congratulations to our students on their excellent results. The Bedales curriculum is now mainly a combination of the more challenging IGCSEs and Bedales Assessed Courses, with fewer GCSEs, which makes the results even more impressive. Bedales has a history of educational innovation. The replacement of some GCSEs with our own Bedales Assessed Courses has, I believe, not only created a better platform for A Level success but also led to more success with offers from prestigious universities as these courses are not only more imaginative and motivating, but also offer a more academically stretching curriculum.”

Other Bedales successes include:

  • Oscar Braun-White from Rowland’s Castle achieved 9A*s and 2As.
  • Phoebe Landers from Headley achieved 9A*s and 1A.
  • Jojo Mosely from Hambledon achieved 9A*s and 1A.
  • Sophia Falkner from London achieved 9A*s.
  • Sofie Kitts from Swanmore achieved 8A*s and 1A.
  • Ally Swain from Sevenoaks, Kent achieved 8A*s and 1A.
  • Lizzie Compton from Rake achieved 7A*s and 3As.
  • Jack Shannon from Steep achieved 7A*s and 3As.
  • Maya Wilson from Rowberrow, North Somerset achieved 5A*s and 4As.
  • Ellie Soper from Hambledon achieved 5A*s, 4As and 1B.
  • Hux Chambers from London achieved 3A*s and 6As.
  • Roly Botha from the Isle of Wight achieved 2A*s and 7As.
  • Margaret Rice from Bampton, Oxfordshire achieved 1A*, 8As and 1B.

Bedales Assessed Courses are externally moderated and recognised by UCAS. Bedales’ unique curriculum is built around a group of five compulsory subjects: IGCSEs in English, Mathematics, Science (Double or Triple Award) and a Modern Foreign Language (the 2013 cohort was the last to take GCSEs in English Language and a Modern Foreign Language). This ensures both that the full range of core skills is covered and also that the minimum requirement for much of higher education is met. Students then choose from other options, which include up to five BACs from a total of 11 courses on offer that include subjects such as Ancient Civilisations, History and Classical Music, an additional IGCSE Modern Foreign Language or GCSEs (e.g. Latin or Computing).

The overall combined GCSE/IGCSE /BAC pass marks in 2013 were:

  • A* – A: 54%
  • A* – C: 93%

As Bedales students study a combination of three different qualifications, the figure quoted is a combined statistic for GCSE, IGCSE and Bedales Assessed Courses. No other school studies this unique combination of qualifications. Data is provisional.

View photos.

Read more about exam results.

Best ever A* GCSE performance at Bedales

Best ever A* GCSE performance at Bedales

Best ever A* GCSE performance at Bedales

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Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.