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‘Movember’ is Streamed from Classroom to Classroom

Having fun, while raising awareness about men’s health, is something that our MoBros take very seriously during the month of November. On Thursday 19 November, serious became educational when the boys went ‘off timetable’ for the morning to learn about serious health issues facing men across the world.

As is traditional, our Upper Sixth Form MoBros delivered sessions on subjects including sleep and resilience, men’s physical and mental health, prejudice and polarisation, as well as conveying hard-hitting messages about suicide in men and anti-bullying.

This year the MoBros delivered their messages via Microsoft Teams and boys joined the sessions from their classrooms to ensure they kept in their year-group bubbles.

This year, our guest speaker was Nathan Thomas, a Movember ambassador from Movember UK. He spoke about his own journey understanding his mental health and gave the boys excellent advice on how to look after their own mental health and how to help their peers. Nathan features on a Movember poster on display around school (the ‘filthy one’!) and was very inspiring.

Susie Spyropoulos, Head of Charities, said, “I was impressed with the boys’ flexibility to adapt to peer teaching on Teams, which as teachers, we know, is no mean feat. They attended a training session and then delivered sessions on mental and physical health to around 280 boys during the morning. Although nothing can beat face-to-face delivery, the MoBros did a very good job in the unusual circumstances that we all face this year.”

Rugby – But not as we know it

Instead of the unmistakeable outline of rugby posts adorning the First XV field this year, the sight of corner flags can instead be seen fluttering in the wind across the playing fields. Touch rugby has become somewhat of a mystique this season, with only the professional level able to play. For the boys this has meant that the usual inter-school fixtures have been cancelled.

However, we have instead adopted ‘Ready4Rugby’ a new and exciting non-contact game which enables teams of up to 10 players to engage in training and a match activity. The boys have already enjoyed a fully inclusive intra-school tournament this term and we have just begun a new tournament to take us through until the end of term. 

Director of Rugby, James Hinkins said, “It has been commendable to see how the boys have applied themselves on the field. Whilst this is not rugby as we know it, non-contact rugby has revolutionised the way we play. Our aim has been to involve as many boys as possible, and we have had a huge number of boys participate, who might have not chosen to otherwise, and has been a testament to the value that the boys bring to their game. All the coaches have been very proactive and the boys are having lots of fun.”

Meanwhile, we were also delighted to hear that Lower Sixth Former and rugby scholar, Sonny Rodella was invited to the England U18 October Development Camp at Queen Ethelburga’s in York at the end of October.

Sonny, who is a year group younger than this age category, told us after attending the camp, “It was such a professional set up and another level of rugby. I took things from the other players that will influence my own game.”

Sonny Rodella, Lower Sixth

Sonny has played rugby from the age of 13, when he joined the Saints Academy, and he started Bedford School in the Sixth Form as a scholar to help better his game. Sonny explained that his coaches had encouraged him to take his game seriously and so he needed a school where rugby was an integral part of the school day.

“I was thrilled to be offered a scholarship here. OB Fraser Dingwall (13-17) is one of my role models – not only is he a Saints and England player, but his leadership style and maturity in the game is a style to aspire to”.

Educating Local Children with Mind-blowing Science

When our boys get to Sixth Form, they are fortunate to have the option to study the International Baccalaureate (IB). Boys who choose the IB route benefit from a holistic approach to education,  and one of the three essential elements of the programme is Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS), which aims to help students develop into curious, knowledgeable and caring young people who contribute to making the world a better place.

To fulfil the ‘service’ strand of their CAS, over the years our boys have volunteered and worked within the local community undertaking activities ranging from crucial conservation work to helping disabled children learn to horse ride.

This year, due to Covid restrictions, the boys have had to think a bit more creatively about how they work within the community, and, after recently completing their Science Group 4 Project, they decided they would like to share their knowledge with other children in the local community. With the help of their biology teacher, Mr Palmer, they teamed up with The Hills Academy, a local primary school, and arranged a video link-up to present their science projects.

The boys’ presentations were informative and funny, and written in a simple yet engaging way, which perfectly suited the age of the audience.

The project subjects were:

  • The Martian: the science behind space travel
  • The science behind David Blane’s ascension
  • How many nuclear bombs would it take to destroy the world?
  • The dangers of scuba diving

Chloe Simpson, teacher at The Hills Academy, said, “The Year 6s thoroughly enjoyed the presentations given by the Year 12 students. The presentations were thoroughly engaging and thought-provoking and led to some really interesting discussions afterwards.”

Mr Parker, also a teacher there, added, “It was lovely to see a ‘cool’ side to science and for the children to learn about science topics that aren’t usually covered.”

At the end of each presentation, the boys encouraged the children to ask questions via the ‘chat’ facility on Microsoft Teams. Questions were plentiful, not to mention weird and wonderful, and our boys diligently answered each one with astonishing speed – proving that they had researched their topics well.

“The presentations were really intriguing and entertaining to watch. We learnt something new!”, one of the Year 6 pupils at The Hills commented afterwards.  

The presentations were then judged, with the winning project being ‘The dangers of scuba diving’ from a team comprising of Ethan Ofusu, Marcus Gurney, Deimis Sukys, Nathan Sankersingh and Orlando Williams.

One child said, “I learnt so much new information and I never realised that SCUBA stood for different words.”


Seven Boys Compete in the Physics Olympiad

Congratulations to the seven Upper Sixth boys who recently participated in the British Physics Olympiad ‘Physics Challenge’. Impressively, three of them achieved scores ranking them amongst the top students in the country.

Harilaos Karavaggelis, Max Sogan, Harry Dowrick, Vivaan Singh, Sam Lee, German Nikolishin and Tony Zhang were amongst 4,000 students from across the UK who completed the challenge, which is organised by the Department of Physics at Oxford University.

On Friday 13 November, the boys completed the next stage, ‘Round 1’, which involved sitting a two hour and 45 minute test.  

The Physics Olympiad aims to encourage the study of physics and to recognise excellence in young physicists through a number of competitions throughout the year. It is based around the Y13 curriculum but it is designed to develop problem solving skills and develop a deeper understanding of the ideas and applications of physics.

Harry Dowrick said the whole process had been a great experience as well as a big help in putting together his Oxbridge application.

Last Post Played Across the School to Remember the Fallen

Boys and staff came together, with the help of digital streaming, to remember and honour all those who sacrificed their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today.

Remembrance Day would normally see both Prep and Upper boys, along with academic and support staff, join together in our Great Hall to pay homage to fallen as a community. With boys packed in, younger ones jostling to share a seat, the experience is always deeply moving.   

With COVID guidelines to adhere to, Remembrance Assembly this year needed to be a bit different. At 10:45 all boys, from our youngest in Year 3 right up to our Upper Sixth Formers, attended an assembly held in their classrooms where, simultaneously, they watched the Remembrance assembly broadcast live from the grounds outside our Memorial Hall. The boys heard from the Head Master, Headmaster of the Prep School, Head of Corps, our RSM, and the school Chaplain, as they gave readings, read poems and said prayers. The Head Master continued the tradition of reading out the names of fallen Old Bedfordians – this year resuming with surnames beginning with ‘R’.

At exactly two minutes to eleven, five trumpeters, placed at various points of the estate stretching from the Main Building across the Inky pitch to the Prep School Playground, played out The Last Post in unison to signal the start of the two-minute silence. The boys played beautifully as they stood with golden autumn leaves falling around them, the evocative bugle call filling the air. Boys and teachers listened from all around the school, stood in their classrooms, with windows open. Members of support staff also came out to stand and join as a community to observe the two-minute silence.

The silence was broken by the trumpeters playing the Reveille and was shortly followed by the Chapel Choir singing For the Fallen, pre-recorded from earlier in the week and cleverly edited into the broadcast. 

After the assembly, the boys were able to talk through the service, and age appropriately, discuss how it made them feel. Some Y3 boys talked about the ages of the fallen OBs who were read out, and some shared stories about relatives who had served in the wars. They also learnt about Old Bedfordian Sub-Lieutenant Arthur Tisdall who was a pupil here between 1900 and 1909. 

This year’s service also served to connect the school community, albeit online, as they came together in solidarity for this time-honoured act of remembrance.

On Sunday, instead of our usual Remembrance Chapel service, we recorded a special film, in which the school Chaplain led a programme of prayers, sermons, hymns, laying of wreaths and a two-minute silence to mark the occasion. You can watch the service here. 

Meet the MoBros

2020 has hit men’s mental health hard, but this year’s group of Bedford School MoBros are determined to make Movember 2020 the best yet.

If you have been part of the school community for a while, you will know that at this time of year the boys come together in force to help raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s mental health issues, through our annual Movember campaign.

Ashlesh Chandrapu, Tom Allen, James Worker and Parwaaz Upadhyay are at the helm of this year’s Movember campaign and are buzzing with enthusiasm and zest as they set about galvanising support from across the school.

There is no denying that this year is going to be a challenge. Usually, much of the fundraising and indeed awareness is done through face to face events and playing sport.

However, Parwaaz told us, “We have not let the Covid rules stand in our way and in fact we have been thinking a lot more creatively than we would normally. For example, instead of the famous dodgeball tournament taking place all on the same day, we have split it over the course of the week so that year group bubbles can play together.”

The boys are also leading a ‘60km in 30 days challenge’ to draw attention to the 60 men who commit suicide each hour globally. The challenge involves boys and staff attempting to complete 60 kilometres over the course of the month of November. This can be done through running, cycling, swimming or a combination of all three. The boys are encouraging as many boys and staff to participate as possible; not only will it raise more money for the charity, but people taking part will also benefit overall health and wellbeing.

Ashlesh is leading the challenge from the front (quite literally) and has taken the challenge to the next level as he attempts to run 300km during the month – 10km each day! Not an easy feat with dark nights and his studies to balance. He is well on track so far, and only feeling a little tired! You can support Ashlesh by making a donation to his Movember page here.

Of course, there is also the much-anticipated Bedford School Movember video to look forward to, and while the song and theme is under wraps for now, we can tell you that it will most certainly be worth waiting for.

Join the boys in their campaign by following them on their Instagram account @bsmobros, join the ‘60km in 30 days challenge’ here, or simply donate here.

Boarding Life During Half Term

Our first term back to school has certainly been an unprecedented one, with adjustments made to the way boys learn, dine, take part in sports and move about the school. Dark nights and colder weather also bring additional challenges, and so promoting mental and physical health is a priority.

The spirit of our Boarding Houses have been wonderful to witness – seeing the boys all pull together as boarding families to get through these strange times has been inspiring. For our overseas boarders in particular, this has been especially important as seeing their families during the school holidays was not always possible and so we remained open at half-term for those boys who needed us.

It proved an amazing half term for those boarders who stayed with us. Over 60 teaching and support staff members freely volunteered their holiday time to create activities for the boys and to help look after them, showing the strength of our community.

The boys were able to have a good rest as well as some fun along the way with a varied and full plan of activities to choose from. Apparently, archery tag, rock climbing and drone racing were their favourites!

Shaping This Year’s Christmas Lectures

Fifteen Sixth Form boys recently took part in a one-day online event run by the Royal Institution to discuss topics raised by projections of our shared futures, on themes such as sustainability, science, society and empowerment. At the same time they learned more about the topics of the upcoming Christmas Lectures; Planet Earth, our oceans, atmosphere and the geology.

Upper Sixth Former and head of the school’s Biology Society, Jamie Norris, who was at the helm of the group of Bedford School boys, galvanised interest amongst his peers after seeing the Royal Institute advertise the event, known as the RI Youth Summit, in their weekly newsletter, which Jamie receives as a junior member.  

Jamie told us, “I thought it would be a good opportunity for the Lower Sixth to kick-start their extracurricular work to contribute to their personal statements, so I proposed the idea to Mr Beale.”

His invitation proved extremely popular with 15 places quickly taken up. Jamie’s role was to then guide the boys on what to do in the session including assisting with setup of accounts and highlighting good sessions to attend.

The event itself comprised a serious of virtual talks focusing on climate change, with subsequent discussions in chat rooms. The focus of the chatrooms was to generate some popular questions that will be asked of the scientists leading the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures.

“The event was good if not slightly hectic at times. The discussions were frequently thought-provoking and it was incredible at times to just sit back and watch the chat move so quickly, a melting pot of opinions and perspectives,” Jamie said of the event.

This sort of extracurricular event is really important for boys; not only does it provide them with a broader knowledge of their subject matter, but it also provides them with a solid start to the wider work they need to undertake as part of a strong university application.

Going forward Jamie hopes to promote the Christmas Lectures themselves so the boys can see the answers to the questions discussed. Additionally, the idea of an essay competition based on these lectures has been voiced.

International Baccalaureate Science Projects

Congratulations to the Lower Sixth International Baccalaureate students who recently completed their science Group 4 Project. The Group 4 Project is a collaborative and multidisciplinary activity, which encourages IB Diploma Programme (DP) science students to appreciate the environmental, social and ethical implications of science.

Specifically, the group of boys collaborated and produced work on an impressive variety of topics, which included:

  • The Martian: the science behind space travel
  • The science behind David Blane’s ascension
  • How many nuclear bombs would it take to destroy the world?
  • The dangers of scuba diving

A prize was awarded to the winning group, judged by a shrewd Year 7 audience from the Prep School, who, due to Covid restrictions, viewed the presentations over Microsoft Teams. Head of Science , Mr Beale, was very impressed with both the quality of the science and the intelligent maturity of the audience’s questions. The winning project was ‘The dangers of scuba diving’ and the contributors were Ethan Ofusu, Marcus Gurney, Deimis Sukys, Nathan Sankersingh and Orlando Williams.

All of the IB boys who completed the project (not just the winning group) will be giving presentations to The Hills Academy School on the 18 November, and to Mark Rutherford the week after – watch this space for more details on this part of the project.