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Board Game Bonanza

There were furrowed brows and looks of concentration in the library this lunchtime as staff and boys took to good old-fashioned board games to challenge each other.

Teachers and support staff stepped up to the challenge of classic games such as Connect 4, chess, draughts, battleships, 3D noughts and crosses, Mensch (a German game similar to Ludo), and Pétanque (boules).

It turned out to be a very hotly contested session, with boys and staff evenly matched on the scoreboard and even some small prizes for boys who ‘beat the teacher’.

The board game sessions, which are held in the library every Friday, to help provide something fun for every boy, no matter what their interests are.

Lauren Chatley, Library and Information Manager, explained, “We set up the board game sessions to create a community hub within the library to encourage boys to use it for downtime, as well as their academic studies. It’s really important to provide boys with a sanctuary outside of the classroom and sports field so they can recoup and refresh before the afternoon of lessons.”

Board games can be played every Friday in the library, just come along from 1pm – everyone is welcome!

 

Celebrating Different Cultures

Boys of all ages enjoyed a week of themed lessons designed to teach them about the different cultures of Germany, France, Spain, China, Italy and England.

A carefully curated timetable, spanning right across the curriculum, was developed by teacher of Spanish, Mr Alfonso Bargiela to coincide with the ‘European Day of Languages’ and to help broaden boys’ knowledge of how culture is such a strong part of people’s lives, how it influences views, values, humour, and even shapes people’s hopes and fears.

Mr Bargiela told us, “It is important to have a good awareness of different cultures to help us to break down barriers, and to love and appreciate those who are different to us.”

The week started off with an interactive escape room, which boys undertook during tutor time. The challenging game helped them recognise the many different languages spoken in Europe alone (there are over 200!) and to see the benefits that learning another language can bring. They were also taught how to say “hello” in 21 languages.

English lessons turned into ‘cultural lessons’ where boys studied classic novels in a foreign language to understand how authors add a touch of culture from different parts of the world or a combination of continents or focussed on a particular region or subculture. They discussed how the authors set their stories in a distinct place and time to help the reader feel immersed in the story.

During lunchtime, boys challenged each other at board games from each of the countries. They learnt from each other how to play classic games such as Muhle from Germany, Parchis from Spain, L’Attaque from France and Chinese Checkers.

The school catering team joined in the fun and created a mouth-watering lunchtime menu to reflect each of the cultures. Boys enjoyed delicious meals such as Eintopf (German sausage stew), Boeuf Bourguignon, paella, and chicken chow mein. Our Chinese Society also helped enrich the boys’ experience even further by offering speciality Chinese tea to all its members. 

The boys were then asked to design a ‘Culture Week’ poster to help advertise culture week next year. Judging by some of them, there will be even better and bigger celebrations to come – roll on next year!

House Singing is Back!

It has been a long two years since this much-loved and traditional highlight in the school’s musical calendar has taken place and judging by the smiles on everyone’s face, it could not have come sooner!

We are, of course, talking about the hotly contested Bedford School House Singing competition, which took place against a backdrop of rapturous applause and cheers in our Great Hall on Thursday 14 October.

Whilst audience numbers were kept lower than usual, there was no mistaking the electric atmosphere and excitement as the boys gathered in their houses to battle for the House Singing trophy. The usual Bedford School traditions, such as the increasingly dramatic way in which boys stand up in perfect unison and the stomping of feet, were a joy to witness.

As well as the necessary theatricals, it was of course the singing that everyone was waiting for. Unison songs were up first, and it was the defending champions, St Peter’s who took to the stage first to sing a touching version of Lewis Capaldi’s Someone You Loved. A tough opening to follow, but St Cuthbert’s did themselves justice with Counting Stars by One Republic and Paulo Pontine ‘sung it louder’ with Gary Barlow’s Sing.

Bromham’s version of King by Years and Years continued the pace, but the stakes were really raised when Ashburnham belted out Someone to You by Banners, followed by Crescent’s Yesterday by the Beatles, which ended the unison songs on a beautiful note.

The part songs proved more of a challenge, but the boys did not disappoint us with highlights from St Peter’s who demonstrated their ability to harmonise with an up-beat arrangement of The Boy from New York City by The Ad Libs with Ashburnham giving them a run for their money with a stunning arrangement and, in this case rather comical lyrics, of Sam Cooke’s Wonderful World.  

We were honoured to welcome Andrew Kennedy, Director of Music at Uppingham School, as adjudicator. While Andrew gathered his thoughts and went about making the tough decision of choosing a winner, we were all treated to TikTok sensation The Wellerman Sea Shanty sung expertly by a selection of teaching and support staff.

Finally, after some valuable and constructive feedback from the adjudicator, the winners were announced to rapturous applause and the rapid stomping of feet.

The winners of House Singing 2021 are:

Unison – Ashburnham
Part song – Ashburnham
Overall winners – Ashburnham

Afterwards it was back to the boarding houses for the after-parties, where boys celebrated with pizza, a slightly later night than usual and more singing!

Joss Sanders, Director of Music said, “It was an absolute pleasure to hear the boys singing their hearts out last night at the House Singing Competition. It is so encouraging to see the boys totally committed to doing the best for their house, and producing some excellent outcomes, especially in the Unison Songs!”

 

Delighted to be Named ‘Independent Boys’ School of the Year’

Boys and staff have been celebrating after beating stiff competition from across the UK to be named Independent Boys’ School of the Year in the much-coveted annual Independent Schools of the Year Awards.

We were both thrilled and humbled to receive the sought-after award after demonstrating how we have embraced and maximised the unique opportunities that an all-boys school can offer.

The awards were hosted online and chosen by a prestigious panel of judges, who know the sector well, including the CEO of the Independent Schools Council (ISC), the CEO of the Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA) and the CEO of the Council of British International Schools (COBIS), a number of others in senior association roles and five serving Heads.

This year, they were overwhelmed by the strength and volume of nominations received with over 700 entries submitted.

Jim Massey who presented the award to us explained they chose Bedford School for “its holistic school experience, tailored to the specific needs of the all-boys community, designed to ensure that students’ individual qualities are nurtured without inhibition and lived without awkwardness, so that they be good men.”

James Hodgson, Head Master, commented, “This is reward for the hard work of an entire community: over 1100 boys, their teachers, non-teaching staff, families, governors and Old Bedfordians, all of whom have played their part in making the school the happy, vibrant and successful place that it is today. I feel immensely lucky every day to be working here and contributing what we can to the town in which we all live.”

Independent Schools of the Year is an awards scheme that aims to showcase the excellence of the educational experience available to students of all backgrounds. It recognises and applauds the varied and imaginative ways in which independent schools prepare young people for their future lives and is a real celebration of the diversity of the sector and the impact that it has on the lives of children and young people.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We aim to offer as many talented boys as possible the opportunity to join independent education through our generous scholarships and bursaries scheme, and each year we offer financial assistance to parents of boys with significant academic, artistic, dramatic, musical or sporting potential, who would otherwise be unable to afford the annual school fees. More information can be found here.

Leaders of the Future Gather at Bedford School

Around eighty aspiring young leaders from twelve schools across Bedford came together for the third ‘Ready2Lead?’ conference at Bedford School.

With support from The Harpur Trust, the students and their teachers worked together to create a programme that aimed to excite and inspire, as well as give students the tools and confidence to be courageous learners, find inner confidence, and give them a new vision for ways in which they can change the world around them.

The leadership programme for Lower Sixth Formers, was originally borne out of an idea from Mr Everitt, a Physics Teacher and Senior Day Housemaster here at Bedford School who collaborated with teachers from Bedford Modern School, Bedford Girls’ School, Mark Rutherford School, The Bedford Sixth Form, Biddenham International School, Kimberley College, St Thomas More School, Bedford Academy, Kempston Challenger Academy and Sharnbrook Sixth Form.

Matilda Crafter of Biddenham International School, and one of the students on the Ready2Lead planning team, told us, “I put myself forward for being on the Ready2Lead planning team because I wanted to get involved and to make a difference. After the lockdown, I decided to throw myself into everything, and felt that Ready2Lead would be the perfect catalyst for this.”

The conference kicked off with an inspirational and thought-provoking talk from keynote speaker Amani Simpson who helped students to explore their own uniqueness and to identify what they have that can power them towards an extraordinary life. Amani is now a successful filmmaker and entrepreneur, but his story to get to this point was not an easy one. After a life-changing incident (Amani was stabbed seven times aged 21), he took steps to change his life and write a new story. Living by the values, “Love, Service and Excellence”, his story both inspired and evoked passion.

Students then moved into mixed school teams to reflect and discuss what they had learned from Amani. They were encouraged to put their words into actions, by creating a project to make either a local or global difference.

Refreshments and all-important networking opportunity followed before the second keynote speaker, Zakia Moulaoui Guery, an inspirational woman who has devoted her life to giving hope to homeless people and raising awareness of social justice, took to the stage. Her talk gave students food for thought and encouraged them to think about how they could take their extraordinary selves and make a real impact on the people and places around them.

After plans were created and commitments to actions made, the conference wrapped up. However, it does not end there. Session two, will take place on 10 November entitled ‘Ready2Change the World’. Here students will be able to choose from two seminars, each giving them practical tips on how they can change the world. This will lead students to session three on 1 December where they will be able to share all they have achieved so far and look at how they will sustain their pledges.

“Our firm belief is that we need to start with self-leadership. As we begin to understand our values and live them out with courage and passion, we will make an impact that will cause others to follow our lead. In other words, the most powerful leader you can be is when you fully embrace the power of being you.”

Simon Everitt, Ready2Lead founder.

 

Top Performers Presented with Academic Colours

Part of our ethos at Bedford School is to challenge our boys to develop their intellectual curiosity by asking questions, broadening their knowledge and intellect, and going beyond the classroom to learn about the world around them. We encourage them to develop an attitude of social responsibility and an understanding of cultural and intellectual differences, to have great empathy and to develop informed opinions and independent minds.

We were therefore delighted to be able to recognise our top academic achievers from across the school, who have excelled in all these areas.  A small ceremony was held in our Memorial Hall to celebrate their success, and those boys in receipt of arts colours, to give them the opportunity to talk about their future plans over refreshments with our Core Management Team.

What are the differences between academic stripes and colours?

Academic stripes are awarded at the start of the academic year to boys within the top 10% of their year group, or as a result of personal recommendation from a senior teacher for consistent excellent academic endeavour.

The next level up from academic stripes is academic colours – the pinnacle of recognition in school. Academic colours  are only awarded to Upper Sixth boys for achieving outstanding results in their end of year examinations, or on personal recommendation for academic endeavour from a senior teacher. Arts colours are also awarded at the start of the Upper Sixth.

It is also important to point out that colours come with the responsibility to continue to demonstrate high levels of academic pursuit and an expectation that they share that ambition and learning with others. Although we award colours on two occasions in the Upper Sixth (once this term and once next), there are a number of boys who only just missed out this time. They will be strong contenders if they can maintain the level of their ambition and effort this year.

 

Which House Took the Sports Day Trophy?

The rain just about held off as our Upper School boys descended upon Bedford Athletics Stadium on Tuesday 28 October for their annual sports day.

The event is always a highlight in the sporting calendar as each house competes for the overall trophy. Both track and field events were filled with boys giving their all and putting in their best performances to rapturous cheers from their housemates in the stands.

Sports day is a real community event, where teachers across the whole school help to support by either running an event, keeping time, or chaperoning the boys.

Stand-out performances of the day included Arthur Proctor and Rupert Cracknell’s battle in the Remove Form 800 metres, with Arthur making a move in the last quarter to win the race. Hari Mistry won the Fifth Form 1500-metre race in an impressive time, while Alex Mofatt dominated the Sixth Form 1500-metre race from start to finish.

Meanwhile on the field, Fifth Former Rhys Harries threw an impressive distance in javelin, to win the event, and spectators had a tense time watching Upper Sixth Formers Maxwell Martin and David Adeyemi-Abere battle for first place in the triple jump, with David winning by a small margin.

A fun-filled afternoon was had by all, but of course it wouldn’t be a competition without a winner. This year it was Ashburnham’s turn to take the trophy, followed by Paulo in second place and St Peter’s in third.

 

Musical Workshops Bring Girls and Boys Together

Pupils from Bedford School and Bedford Girls’ School came together to take part in movement, singing and acting workshops as part of an Arts enrichment programme. The idea behind these workshops is to lay the groundwork for a very exciting joint musical taking place in November 2022, for teachers to start identifying the future cast.

The musical will be the first fully joint venture between the schools, bringing together staff from each of the drama, dance and music departments from both schools to direct and design a full-scale musical in The Quarry Theatre.

The programme began with a movement workshop in the Studio Theatre at Bedford Girls’ School, where the students were taught simple walking and turning sequences. As their confidence grew, this developed into more complex jumping and contemporary phrases; finally ending with the chance to produce some original choreography. Much fun was had, and the students impressed teachers with their willingness to try new styles, and stay focused and committed throughout the two hours.

Next, the students met at our Quarry Theatre to undertake an acting workshop led by Mrs Keylock and Mrs Howe, as well as a singing workshop led by Mr Keating-Roberts. The collaborative and encouraging atmosphere between the two sets of students, fostered in the movement workshop, was cemented here and was wonderful to see.

Mrs Keylock, Head of Academic Drama said, “The purpose of the workshops was to get the students together and see what talent we have across both schools and, of course, have some fun! It was great to see students come together from the two schools and different years groups, and enjoy working on a variety of different skills. I was delighted to work with Mrs Howe on the acting workshops; we loved seeing the students perform an extract from ‘Bugsy Malone’- there were some fantastic performances!”

Bang on Target at Archery Club

As part of our citizenship programme, Fourth Form boys were able to try out a series of taster sessions of some of the many clubs and societies the school has on offer. Archery is a new addition to our extra-curricular programme and has many benefits as it helps to build muscle endurance and flexibility, as well as develop hand-eye coordination and body strength. It aids mental focus, drive and resilience, and is perfect for mindfulness and letting go of everyday stress. Archery is also a truly inclusive sport, for all ages and abilities, and a great supportive and competitive social activity. This gives boys an alternative to our more traditional sports, but still offers all the benefits that sport can give.

The highlight of the session had to be the Olympic-style shoot off at the end. The boys were given one arrow to shoot as close to the gold as possible. It was a closely contested event, especially given that the boys had only been shooting for 40 minutes. After two equally spaced golds, one 3 o’clock off the centre and the other 9 o’clock, the pressure was mounting. Special commendation goes to William Mowe (the last archer in this mini competition) who after maintaining his concentration and focus, placed the final arrow in the very centre of gold, taking the win.

All boys across the Upper School will be able to attend archery club every Friday from 4.30pm to 5.30pm, starting on 8 October. These sessions will introduce boys to shooting, develop technique, explain the history, explore the context and rules, and emphasise safety on the range. Any boy interested in attending these sessions should contact Dr Crackle and register their interest via email. Owing to the restrictions of numbers, there are limited spaces and boys are strongly advised to register their interest as soon as possible.