There are two overriding truisms of school life: you can tell that the cricket season is here when it starts raining, and you can tell that the exam season is here when the temperature rises to uncomfortable levels.  Those taking IB, whose exams are already finished, missed the worst of it and attended a celebratory IB dinner in the Great Hall last week with their peers from Bedford Girls’ School and their parents to round off their formal Bedford education.  It was a small group this year – just 21 boys – but they were a wonderful, talented and tight-knit group from eight different countries: UK (comprising over half of the group), Bosnia, Turkey, Hong Kong, Germany, Russia, Zimbabwe and Hungary.  What a great privilege for them, and indeed for all our boys, to work alongside, and to make friendships with, boys from all around the world.  A small group they may have been, but their legacy is that around 70 boys are set to take the IB across the two years following them.

For the other boys in the school, exams are upon us.  They have been carefully prepared and I wish them all well in the coming weeks.

Several of the overseas IB boys will stay on to take part in the two big rowing events coming up: the National Schools Regatta this weekend and Henley at the end of term.  The whole club has had a terrific season – they have been steadily, and impressively, improving year on year – and several crews have very high hopes.  The 1st VIII have had a great season already, winning the 1st 8s on the Tideway for the first time in our history and following up with impressive wins over Winchester and Abingdon 1st VIIIs to win the at Bedford Regatta.  The club as a whole is growing, both in numbers and stature, and I know that all support at Eton Dorney and Henley will be warmly welcomed.

The cricketers have started extremely well too, with the 15A team (who have reached the final stages of the prestigious National Lord’s Taverners’ competition) to the fore, but the strength is across the whole club: there were nine centuries scored across seven different teams on the first three weekends.  It was particularly pleasing to have an Under 16C team out just before GCSE exams – this is what this school is all about: maintaining balance, working hard, playing hard and embracing a full and fun life.  May I recommend the next round of the National T20 competition; the 1st XI play at home on the evening of Friday 8th June from 5.45pm – these are always great fun!

Elsewhere, the golfers reached the Independent Schools Golf Association national final and came fourth; they have also qualified for the finals of the HMC National Foursomes competition in July.  The U16A hockey team came fifth in the country in their national finals; the footballers won the LB Cup Final against Loughborough Grammar School; and the badminton players qualified for their own national finals, finishing seventh.  This, I think, is a pretty thick spread for one half-term.

In other areas, congratulations are due to Thomas Pelling for being awarded a Certificate of Distinction in the recent Intermediate Maths Challenge and, on the basis of his result, being invited to a UKMT Summer School. Joseph Fordham was also the winner in a national Religious Studies essay competition which asked pupils to write on why Religious Studies matters to them. In music, we have enjoyed a Music Prize Winners Concert, and a concert presenting the compositions of pupils. And most recently, the production of The Red Shoes in the Quarry Theatre given by Fourth and Remove Form boys (with girls from Bedford Girls’ School) was a real treat for the end of the half-term. Further congratulations are also due to one of the cast members, Rowan Bascetta-Pollitt, who has recently been awarded a place in the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain.

Academic Support

Following the Inspection, I promised an update on the provision for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND).  As some will know, we were already looking at our provision before the inspectors came – and we feel they were right in their assessment that we have a very good provision, but that we should look for ways to improve it further.  Since the latter part of last term our team have visited a range of similar schools to our own to assimilate all the best practice – senior schools with day and boarding, senior schools with their own prep schools, and stand-alone prep schools.  We have also been working with the other Harpur Trust schools.  We met this week to discuss findings and I feel confident that we have an exciting way forward.  We will be writing a new policy during the summer, which is likely to see a period of transition before full uptake in 2018.  Once the policy is written, I will say more; but for now, I am confident that our boys with SEND are receiving a good provision, which will only continue to improve.

Staffing updates

Whilst the following looks like rather a long list, most of it is internal and we have a large staff; the staffing has in fact been extremely stable this year.  As I have stated in these correspondences before, we would hope for about 10% turnover – much more risks stability; too little can stagnate.  This year looks like being about 8%.

Mr Adrian Finch will be Director of IB from September, replacing Mrs Emma Murray. 

Mr Mike Herring will take over from Mr Finch in charge of Oxbridge (and will thereby lead a Cambridge takeover from an Oxford man!).

Mr James Hinkins takes over from Mr Finch as Assistant Housemaster of Talbot’s.

Mme Brigitte Bousquet (current Head of French/MFL) has accepted an appointment as Head of French at King’s Ely.  We wish her well for her last term here.

Mrs Jessica Starkey (current Languages Department) will take over from Mme Bousquet as Head of French in September. 

Herr Frank Graeff (Head of German) will succeed Mme Bousquet as Head of Modern Foreign Languages. 

Mr Michael Dawson joins the school as a teacher of Modern Foreign Languages.  Mr Dawson has a degree from UCL in German and Italian and, after a couple of years in audit, then politics, is now completing his PGCE in German with French and Spanish.  He speaks Italian and has basic Mandarin; played football for UCL and is a former member of the National Youth Theatre.

Mrs Caroline Millington joins the Drama Department as a part-time teacher of Drama to replace Mrs Jules Crossley, who left us last holidays.  Mrs Millington was Head of Drama for seven years at Northampton School for Girls before (currently) working at Mark Rutherford School.  Mr James Pharoah continues as Theatre Manager.

Olly Markeson will take over from Libby Di Niro in the English Department.  Olly is undergoing a career change after nine successful years in marketing and advertising with the likes of Proctor & Gamble, McCann and BMB Advertising.  He has been commissioned in the British Army, and is a keen sportsman, public speaker, charity fundraiser and amateur poet.  Olly has an MA in English Literature and Language from the University of St Andrew’s.

Mr James Nicholl will take over in September from Mrs Katie Nicholson in the Art Department whilst she is away on maternity leave.  James has a  First Class degree in Fine Art from the Open University (via the Leeds College of Art and Design), is currently working at the City Academy in Hackney and is a practising sculptor (and, indeed, musician).

Bursar post

Jocelyn Miles has taken the decision to move on from her role as Bursar at Bedford in the summer. She has given a lot to the school in her time with us, and we are most grateful to her for her contribution. 

Consequently, we are advertising via recruitment consultants Perrett Laver for a new Bursar.  If you know of anybody who might be interested, please do feel free to direct them to Perrett Laver: the closing date for applications is 2nd June.  I write this simply because I know there are many parents who work in the world of business/finance, or have contacts who do; but the same applies to all roles advertised at the school – we are, naturally, keen for strong fields.


Whilst planning continues for the next major phases of estate development, we will complete a few more minor projects this summer.  Currently, there is work going on in 41 de Parys to convert the downstairs rooms to three (much needed, but probably relatively short term) English classrooms and two further rooms for OB offices.  In the holidays, we will also complete a new frontage to the Art Department, which will include a Gallery entrance to the building.  This has been kindly funded, to a large degree, by a donation from Gilbert Lloyd (OB).  We will be continuing our regular and substantial work in boarding houses to ensure that they are fully up to date with modern standards, and creating a new PE staff office in the Sports Hall to address an overly cramped current space.

Arts Festival

Please do join us for as many events as you can in our Arts Festival at the end of this term.  The full list of opportunities can be found in the What’s On guide here.  There are 10 pages of events over this short period.  Pride of place, of course, goes to the boy performances – but it is also exciting that we have the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, coming to the school on Tuesday 27th June.  It would be wonderful if you could get some of these into your diary now.

Speech Day

Speech Day this year is on Saturday 1st July.  All leavers’ parents are invited to the Leavers’ Chapel Service at the start of the day followed by prize giving (to which the prize winners’ parents are also invited).  Then the WHOLE community is invited to share end of year drinks together on the school playing fields in front of the main building at noon.  We would love to see you all there to wish you a happy summer.  There will be cricket on the main ground (1st XI vs Head Master’s XI); please feel free to bring a picnic and enjoy the afternoon.

This year’s Prize Giving speaker is Mr John Holland-Kaye (OB), CEO of Heathrow Airport.

I wish you all a happy and productive week.

With kind regards,

James Hodgson
Head Master

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