Oscar Wilde experience for 6.1 English students

Following last month’s John Keats experience day for 6.2 students, it was the turn of 6.1 English Literature students to be transported back in time on Monday as they marked the end of their study of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest by taking part in an experience day designed to cement their understanding of the play.

One of Wilde’s most renowned comedies, The Importance of Being Earnest tells the story of two bachelors and friends, John ‘Jack’ Worthing and Algernon ‘Algy’ Moncrieff, who create alter egos named Ernest to escape their everyday lives and win the hearts of two women who claim they are only able to love men called Ernest. As the play progresses and the pair struggle to keep up with their yarns, they become embroiled in a tale of duplicity that ridicules the sensibilities of the Victorian era in which it is set.

In preparation for the day, students were asked to research the costume of the era and enlist the help of Joanne Greenwood in the Drama department to find suitable clothing to wear for the experience. They then took part in a range of practical exercises, organised by Head of English David Anson and English teacher Julia Bevan to bring the play to life and add another dimension to their study.

Exercises included making cucumber sandwiches, which fans of the play will recall Algy devours throughout, as well as toasting and buttering tea cakes and bread; writing and leaving ‘calling cards’ from one character to another; identifying a selection of items from the Victorian era, including a fish knife and cake fork; and sitting down in their costumes, including gloves and hats, to drink from cups and saucers and tuck into the spread they had prepared and brought along.

In an exercise which met all three of the A Level assessment objectives, students were also asked to identify quotations from the play that relate to food and write them on cardboard slices of cucumber, which they placed on cardboard slices of bread along with the relevant context, before coming up with a line of argument to fit the quote and writing it on cardboard plates.

Finally, the group listened to a short lecture Julia delivered on Wilde’s use of food in The Importance of Being Earnest. Used as a symbol of excess or overindulgence, Julia and David agreed that food plays such an important role in the play because Wilde uses it to satirise the farcical nature of Victorian aristocratic society, which has excessively strict codes of conduct.

Julia said: “Wilde was affiliated with the aesthetic movement of the late Victorian era; a movement that rejected moralising in the name of beauty. One of his characters in The Importance of Being Earnest, Gwendolen, neatly captures some of his central ideas when she says ‘style, not sincerity is the vital thing’. It was with grace and style – and a great sense of humour – that our 6.1s dressed up, taking great care to produce and display sumptuous food. When they come to revise the play next year, the memory of our sunny garden tea party might also remind them of the importance the Victorians placed on mealtimes, and how Wilde gently satirises these restrictive codes of conduct without lecturing, making our experience of watching his play pleasurable.”

After the event, two students wrote a poem inspired by the experience:

Symphony in 6.1 English

An omnibus of students along Church Road
Crawls like the Victorian upper class
And, here and there a driver-by
Frowns like a confused Bedalian parent.

Big plates full of English muffins
Are placed quaintly in Mr. Anson’s abode,
And, like a Victorian tea party,
Guests nibble on cucumber quotes and context crusts.

The Wilde-ian group begins to fade
And ghostly gloves flutter from buttery fingers.
I look down at my exam desk, and for lack of content,
I remember this 6.1 symphony.

By Freya Leonard and Alexander Lunn


Insightful Keats’ lecture

By Thea Sesti, 6.2

After the trip to Thomas Hardy’s Dorset on Saturday 19 January, English teachers David Anson, Ed Mason and Lucy McIlwraith took a slightly different group of 6.2 English students to Chichester to attend a lecture delivered by distinguished academic Professor Nicholas Roe on John Keats’ narrative poem The Eve of St. Agnes.

The lecture was organised in celebration of the poem’s bicentennial anniversary and took place the day before the Eve itself, which falls on 20 January. The lecture contained a lot of insightful context to Keats’ life as well as that of the poem, evidencing the brutality and viciousness of the criticism the poet had to break through in order to a gain a place among the English poets, which indeed he did with much of his 1819 poetry and in no small measure in St. Agnes’ Eve.

The lecture was followed by a brief but curious bell, which preceded an assorted poetry interlude, and finally a dramatic reading of both Keats’ biography and the 42-stanza poem itself. Despite its impressive range of talent and voices, however, it left something wanting in its representation of dramatic setting and passionate young love, which only sparked in us a desire to recreate the scene for ourselves.

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.

6.2 students attend psychology conference


By Skye Hurwitz, 6.2

In December, 6.2 students attended a psychology conference in London, where they were fortunate enough to hear talks from renowned psychologists across the country. Speakers at the conference shared their expertise through fascinating lectures about a range of topics, from musicology to hypnotism.

The day commenced with a captivating talk from the magician Oliver Meech. Meech completed his degree in Psychology at Oxford and employed his expertise in the art of magic. In disbelief, the audience witnessed Meech’s magic tricks, followed by a masterclass on the psychological techniques behind the magic.

The lectures that followed were equally insightful. Professor Gianna Cassidy informed us about the benefits of music for wellbeing, sharing research surrounding the psychology of music, such as what makes a catchy song stick and why singing can improve our mental health. Phil Banyard, Mike Cardwell and Cara Flanagan broke down the common misconceptions in psychology, revealing ‘fake news’ and allowing us to reflect on the validity of psychology as a science altogether.

The day concluded with a staggering performance from the internationally renowned hypnotist Andrew Newton. We watched in awe as a group of volunteers slipped deeper and deeper into a hypnotic state. However, we couldn’t believe our eyes when, out of 40 keen volunteers, our very own Nancy Tier became the star of the show. Nancy wilfully followed the hypnotists’ commands: she instantly fell asleep, had her arm frozen and even sniffed her own shoe!

In hysterics, we witnessed Nancy mindlessly follow commands. While she vaguely recollects the course of events, she describes the experience as feeling like a dream. However, it is safe to say as her friends, we will never forget!

Preparations for the Sixth Form Show underway

By Darcy Bartlett, 6.2, Dance Don

From 12 September, 12 Sixth Form dancers, musicians and actors had the fortunate opportunity to work with the Temper Theatre Company to create a performance piece, Kin, which will be shown on 17 and 18 October.

Temper Theatre Company are a physical theatre company who create work inspired by pressing socio-political and environmental issues. Using dance, realism, ensemble movement and complex immersive sound and lighting design, their work explores stories designed to resonate with contemporary culture and evoke a meaningful, individual response among diverse audiences.

We began to devise Kin with the consideration of the universally relevant themes of global warming and the impact of social media. It was inspiring to learn from Temper Theatre Company members Jack and Finn, who are acclaimed theatre creators and performers, and are currently on tour with their show Nighshifter in London.

Book tickets for this year’s Sixth Form Show, Kin.

Bedalians head to Oxford

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

Every year, 6.1 students at Bedales have the opportunity to attend the Oxford University Open Day. This gives them the chance to attend lectures, see some of the colleges, and get a feel for what an Oxford education, and the application process, would be like. This year, as part of the 3i programme, students in Block 3 and 4 were invited to hop on the bus for a trip that we ran in parallel: an Oxford experience that introduced them to a top university, and to find out the differences that Oxford and Cambridge present, compared with other universities. For the youngest students, it was a chance to iron out some misconceptions ‘If I’m at this college, am I still at Oxford?’ or ‘Which college does English?’ For some, it was a chance to start setting their sights high for study after Bedales.

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Whilst the 6.1s were traipsing from college to college in the afternoon, Block 3 and 4 got a chance to see some of Oxford’s excellent museums, including the Museum of the History of Science, and the Natural History Museum (including the shrunken heads in the Pitt Rivers). The Block 3s had a photo competition, with categories such as ‘most intriguing object’ which you can see above.

This is just one of the many opportunities that students in 3i get. 3i (after Badley’s happy phrase ‘intelligence, initiative and individuality’) is a community of engaged, interested learners at Bedales. It includes academic scholars, those nominated by staff, and those who nominate themselves. 3i runs a regular bulletin, which publicises events, competitions and trips.

Bedales A Level Success

Lizzie Compton A+AB, Chloe Green 3A+ A (1) (Large) (Large)

Bedales students have achieved strong A Level results for 2015 with the school’s highest ever percentage of A* grades at 15.5%. They have secured places at universities including Oxford, Cambridge, London School of Economics, University College London, Edinburgh, Bristol, Durham, Glasgow, Exeter, Warwick and Berklee (US). 43% of all grades were A*-A and 72% at A*-B.

Seven Bedales students have secured places at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge on courses in Medicine, Chemistry, Biochemistry, English, Philosophy, Politics & Economics, French & Religious Studies, and Fine Art; four have done so through this summer’s grades and three students from last year’s cohort received offers based on their A Level results from 2014. Four of these seven students were taught at Bedales Prep, Dunhurst, before progressing to Bedales Senior School and Sixth Form.

Poppy Duncan from Stroud, Petersfield will read Medicine at New College, Oxford having achieved three A*s in Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics, and an A in Further Mathematics; Chloe Green from Liss achieved three A*s in History, Mathematics and Further Mathematics, and an A in Chemistry, and will read Chemistry at Worcester College, Oxford; Peter Price from London achieved three A*s in English Literature, History and Religious Studies and will take up his place at Corpus Christi, Cambridge, to read English;Juliette Perry from Petersfield gained an A* in History and three As in Chemistry, English Literature and Mathematics, and will take up a place at Somerville, Oxford to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

Sophia Falkner from London achieved four A*s in Economics, German, History and Mathematics; to study Economics and Economic History at the London School of Economics.Oscar Braun-White from Rowland’s Castle achieved three A*s in Physics, Mathematics and Further Mathematics and an A in Classical Greek; to study Natural Sciences at Durham University. Sophie Mills from Rowland’s Castle achieved three A*s in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics, and an A in Further Mathematics; to study Chemistry at the University of Warwick. Thomas Higginson from Chilworth, Southampton celebrated his 18th birthday on results day with three A*s in Dance, French and Psychology and an A in Mathematics; to study Dance at The Place, London.

Head boy, Rob Miller, from London achieved two A*s in English Literature and Mathematics, and an A in Latin. Head girl;  Margaret Rice, from Bampton, Oxfordshire achieved an A in Religious Studies and two Bs in Classical Greek and Latin.

Two departing Bedales students have spent the summer working with the prestigious National Youth Theatre:

  • Christi Van Clarke from London achieved two A*s in Drama and Theatre Studies, and Art and Design, and an A in French; to study a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at City and Guilds, London.
  • Deputy head boy, Roly Botha, from the Isle of White achieved three Bs in Drama and Theatre Studies, English Literature and Religious Studies; to study Drama and Theatre Studies at Royal Holloway. Roly was also awarded the school’s Gabriel Bruce Award for outstanding work in Theatre, Art and general contribution to the community.

22 Bedales students have been accepted at British art schools. Many schools find that only a select few of their art students choose to apply to leading art and design colleges and universities. The one-year Foundation Diplomas in Art and Design allows students the experience of further developing practical and conceptual skills in preparation for art and design related degrees.

The three Bedales students progressing to Oxford having taken their A Levels last summer are:

  • Olivia Brett from Petersfield who will read Theology and Religious Studies at Clare College, Cambridge. She is currently performing as Nannetta in The Black Cat Opera Company’s performance of Verdi’s Falstaff at the Camberley Theatre has also been awarded a choral scholarship at Clare College.
  • Rufus Rock, head boy in 2013/14, from East Meon, who will read Fine Art at Brasenose, Oxford. This year he has taken a six month practical filmmaking course in Berlin and also learnt German.
  • Joshua Grubb from Petersfield, who will read Biochemistry at Somerville, Oxford. He has spent this year working for Procter and Gamble in their science research labs at the Newcastle Innovation Centre as part of the ‘Year in Industry’ scheme. He was also awarded a Distinction in his Diploma (Dip.ABRSM) Clarinet examination.

Commenting on the results, Keith Budge, Headmaster of Bedales Schools, said:

“We are delighted that our students achieved Bedales’ highest percentage of top grades with 15.5% of all A Level awards at A*. Congratulations to our students whose results are worthy recognition of their hard work. I wish them well as they now progress to an impressive range of universities and art colleges in the UK and overseas.”

Other Bedales student successes include:

  • Mona Fu from Zhuhai, China achieved two A*s in Mathematics and Art and Design, and an A in Physics; to study Architecture at University College London.
  • Jojo Mosely from Hambledon achieved two A*s in Art and Design and English Literature, and an A in French; to study History of Art and French at the University of Bristol.
  • Sofia Palm from London achieved two A*s in Politics and Religious Studies, and an A in History; to study Social Anthropology at SOAS, University of London.
  • Jack Merrett from London achieved an A* in History, and two As in Politics and Religious Studies.
  • Isabelle Binney from Rogate achieved an A* in Art and Design, an A in Psychology, and a B in English Literature; to study History of Art at the University of Bristol.
  • Lizzie Compton from Rake achieved an A* in History, an A in English Literature, and a B in Mathematics; to study Law at the University of Bristol.
  • Henry McWhirter from Hindhead achieved an A* in History, an A in English Literature, and a B in Religious Studies.
  • Eleanor Soper from Hambledon achieved an A* in Mathematics, an A in Physics, and a B in Chemistry; to study Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh.
  • Alexander Yetman from Froxfield achieved a D2 (equivalent to A*) in Music Pre-U, and two Bs in English Literature and Design and Technology; to study Bespoke Tailoring at University of the Arts London.
  • Sofie Kitts from Swanmore achieved three As in English Literature, History and Spanish; to study Scandinavian Studies and History at The University of Edinburgh.
  • Phoebe Landers from Headley achieved three As in French, History and Spanish; to study History at The University of Edinburgh.
  • Laura Wise from South Harting achieved three As in English Literature, History and Religious Studies; to study Philosophy and English Literature at The University of Edinburgh.
  • Lily Brown from Liss achieved two As in Biology and Classical Civilisation, and a B in Art and Design.
  • Victoria Burnell from Sheet achieved two As in Economics and History, and a B in Classical Civilisation.
  • Saskia Church from Brentford achieved two As in Design and Technology and Psychology, and a B in Economics.
  • Jack Shannon from Steep achieved two As in Biology and Mathematics, and a B in Chemistry; to study Marine Biology at the University of Southampton.
  • Maya Wilson from Rowberrow, Somerset achieved an A in English Literature, a D3 (equivalent to an A) in Music Pre-U, and a B in History.
  • Emily Blackley from Priors Dean achieved an A in Biology, and two Bs in Geography and Mathematics; to study Biological Anthropology at The University of Kent.
  • Gabriel Curry from Steep achieved an M1 (equivalent to an A) in Music Pre-U, and two Bs in Mathematics and History; to study Law at the University of York.
  • Ruan Evans from Wimbledon achieved an A in Dance, and two Bs in Drama and Theatre Studies, and History.
  • Foxey Hardman from Langport, Somerset achieved an A in Psychology, and two Bs in Drama and Theatre Studies, and French.
  • Radheka Kumari from Ruislip achieved an A in English Literature, and two Bs in History and Religious Studies.
  • Enrico Luo from Guangdong, China achieved an A in Mathematics, and two Bs in Physics and Design and Technology; to study a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at City College Brighton and Hove.
  • Robert Murray from London achieved an A in Mathematics, and two Bs in Physics and Computing.
  • Lydia Nethercott-Garabet from Steep Marsh achieved an A in Latin, and two Bs in History and Spanish.
  • Matilda Raphael from Richmond achieved an A in Psychology, and two Bs in English Literature and Drama and Theatre Studies.
  • James Sweet from Henfield, West Sussex achieved an A in Mathematics, and two Bs in Biology and Chemistry.
  • Lily Wetherill from Midhurst achieved an A in Art and Design, and two Bs in Design and Technology and English Literature.

The full A Level statistics were as follows:

  • A* passes: 15.5%
  • A* – A passes: 43.0%
  • A* – B passes: 72.1%
  • A* – E passes: 99.2%

Cambridge Pre-U D1 and D2 grades are equivalent to an A*; a D3 is equivalent to an A; M1 is equivalent to an A grade and M2/M3 merit grades are equivalent to B grade.

Note that this data is provisional and subject to re-marks.

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