Good morning boys, and welcome to final assembly. Before I start today, just a few words to you all to say well done. What we have been though together this term has been quite inspiring, and will become part of your life that you will never forget. For some of you, some of those memories will be very painful; for others, they will simply be very strange; but for all of us, they will be, I hope, unique and will, in some intangible way, tie us together forever, whatever happens to you later in life. For most of my generation and older, it is endlessly amazing how your past catches up with you – you constantly bump into people later in life that you started out next to. Sometimes, you will not have seen them for years, but end up making friends where they had never originally existed, on the back of shared experiences. Therefore, do try to remember this strange period of life. Remember the unusual rules, the hand gel in tents on Burnaby Road, the temperature testing as you leave the boarding house, the one way systems, the year group zones, the term with no rugby matches, Chapel services over Teams. Remember the new language you have encountered (who said languages were difficult?), words and phrases which are likely to slip back into the mist of time. Words like covidiot, zoombombing, moonshot, furlough, herd immunity, bubbles, pods and super-spreaders. But also remember the shared spirit, the camaraderie and the continual acts of kindness. We have some way to go with this virus, I am afraid, but we have seen the very best of humanity, as well as some of the awful sides.
So, as I start out on a list of achievements for the term, and there remain many, I also say well done to the whole school for the way you have responded to this period. I am sorry that you have all had to spend at least some time online, but the spirit, good humour, sense of collegiality and collective responsibility has been special – and you have been terrific.
We start with something I have missed almost more than anything: some music… Not live this time, but news…; and then I am going to bookend this assembly with some hope – and the care you have all shown for the world around you.
We have taught 450 individual music lessons a week this term.
Music Exam Distinctions
The following boys got distinctions in the latest ABRSM practical music examinations: well done to them.
- Gideon (Yin Chak) Chan (Fifth Form, Talbots) Double Bass Grade 6
- Jason (Liurongjie) He (Fourth Form, Philpotts) Piano Grade 4
- Michael Lee (Upper Sixth, Burnaby) Piano Grade 8
Very well done to the boys who have been involved in the St John’s Moggerhangar Hospice Project. Lower Sixth boys have been writing poems and making artwork for the staff there who are looking after people with life-limiting conditions. On receipt of these, Hayley Webb, the Community Fundraising Manager for St John’s Hospice, said she was thrilled by the boys’ kindness.
Personally, I have been delighted by the actions so many of you have taken to help improve the lives of others in so many little, and some big, ways. Well done to you. And further to this initiative, we are hoping we can expand this creative project next term and include local care homes too.
Mrs Millington said, “It has been a real pleasure working with the boys on this project, and I have been blown away by their creativity. I felt immensely proud handing over their work to the hospice and it has been lovely to see the boys contributing to the wider community in such a positive way.”
Heavy restrictions this term did not dampen the enthusiasm and commitment of the boys on the rugby field this year. Quite the opposite, they embraced new challenges and opportunities to improve skill level, game understanding and decision-making. The opportunity to play some competitive matches on Saturdays was well received and incredibly well attended, even though they were internal matches without any contact. Ready4Rugby was the game adopted for the Intra School Saturday League, as designed by the RFU to accommodate the necessary restrictions. The matches were fiercely competitive and, aside from the odd overzealous touch, always played within the spirit of the game. The boys also did well to adapt to the referees’ varying understanding and application of the rules! The year group who deserves particular praise is the Upper Sixth Form, who, with no ‘proper rugby’ in sight, could have quite easily and perhaps understandably sulked their way through their final year of rugby. They did not, they rolled their sleeves up, got stuck in and made the most of every opportunity they had; true Bedford School spirit. Well done all of you!
The coaching staff should also be commended for the way they had to adapt and deliver an atypical looking rugby programme. They did so quite beautifully, providing the boys with opportunities to enjoy their rugby experience, make good progress and compete. There have been many constructive reflections on this season, which will undoubtedly lead to the emergence of a new look rugby programme that harnesses the many positives gained from training and playing with restrictions. Roll on autumn term 2021!
Major Sports Colours for Rugby are awarded to:
- Sam Dicks
- Henry Warren
Rugby Honours Caps are awarded to:
- Tom Allen
- Ben Barnes
- Will Ramply
- Alex Christey
- Harry Constantine
- Lewis Butterly
- Gurkaran Johal
The boys involved in the Boat Club were immensely pleased to get back on the water after many hours of land training at home during lockdown. There has been a good group turning up to all the sessions available, including the 7.00am sculling ones, led by this year’s Captains of Boats, Harvey Toms and William Garner. The competition has taken the form of rowing/running biathlons, and one-on-one racing in the singles, both of which have been fiercely contested. Nine of the senior boys’ group this year have started the GB trials process, and we wish them well in the coming months as selection evolves. With a bit of luck, the spring term should see rowing taking a step closer to normality, as competitions resume, and we welcome the other age groups to the Boathouse.
The indoor hockey programme has continued to grow this term and over 70 boys across all year groups have taken part in the training sessions. Their attitude during the sessions has never wavered, especially as competitions were cancelled so early into the term. This term’s preparation will give the teams a competitive edge at the East Regional Championships, 2021.
Cricket – would you believe!
Due to fantastic weather throughout much of the autumn term, we have been able to deliver a cricket programme for all years prior to half term, which helped to make up for the lack of school cricket in the summer term and also ‘blow away the cobwebs’ for many keen cricketers who do not play county cricket. Mr Brett, with the support of Old Bedfordian James Kettlebrough, has done an excellent job with the 1st XI squad, as they have not only managed to work on their technical skills outdoors, but have also been developing their one-day tactical skills on Thursday evenings.
A surreal term for Fives, with no external fixtures. However, with the weather favourable, every session featured full courts this autumn, with regular singles and doubles tournaments within year group bubbles and with merits awarded to the winners. Year groups were safely ensconced in their designated courts playing carefully by the Rugby Fives Association’s rulebook and, as we look to the new term, we will face the official year group cups, new noticeboards, and new safety barriers.
Minor Sports Colours for Fives are awarded to:
- Will Cliffe
- Hugh Halsey
The golf simulator has been a timely and welcome addition; it has meant that the boys in the golf squad have been able to continue their development despite course closures. Golf has also begun to reach the wider school, too, as many boys have enjoyed taking up lessons with our two professionals, Holly and Sam.
We have only managed to play one competitive fixture, at Luffenham Heath against Uppingham in the HMC Foursomes. We won convincingly; Lawrence Jefferys and Jack Peters won 9 and 7, Alex Robins and Freddie Tucker won 8 and 6, leaving Fin Cummings & Louis Densham’s match a dead rubber and called in after 13 holes with the match all square – though they are adamant that victory would have been theirs!
Bubbled year groups and strict cleaning protocols on the range have allowed shooting to continue in the face of COVID, and the school was able to compete in the postal BSSRA Leagues. The Autumn League of five 10-bull targets was shot by Blake Ayling, Will Garner, James Hine, Dan Lumley-Wood, James Lumley-Wood and Jamie Norris.
Our novice shooters also had an opportunity to compete in the new Tyro competition. Our entrants of Jack Aldridge, Will Reddy and James Sumner shot five 5-bull targets over the term, and the prize for this competition will be awarded to the most improved shot. This term was also the introduction of shooting as a sports option for the Sixth Form and, amid all this activity, there was just enough time for Mr McCleary and Mr Lumley-Wood to shoot three 10-bull cards for the BSSRA Staff competition. The results for all of these competitions have yet to be published. Thank you to Mr McCleery and Mrs Lumley-Wood for all their help in keeping things going in very trying times. Thanks to the Lumley-Wood family, who have largely resurrected the Shooting club single-handedly, it having had a successful history as a Bedford School sport.
Athletic Development and Wellbeing
With more than 2,500 individual visits to strength and conditioning sessions over the term, it is fair to say the commitment shown from all has been admirable. The boys have been exposed to a multitude of training stimuli focusing on strength, speed and power whilst learning the underpinning values and concepts of science-based long term athletic development. After a successful term, we are sure all the boys will continue to strive to better themselves as they continue their fitness and wellbeing journey.
It has been a busy term for the drama department, despite no major school productions!
Our academic Drama Society has continued to flourish. Dylan Swain is our president and has helped coordinate the great variety of talks we have had this term. The Society started with a fascinating academic series of lectures by OBs. Logan Jones, Ethan Chappell-Mason and Jonathan Hosking all discussed their theatre journeys that started at Bedford School and gave advice on drama school auditions and university courses. In late September, Professor Paul Allain from the University of Kent lectured on the Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki, once dubbed the ‘Japanese Grotowski’. Paul Allain is Professor of Theatre and Performance and Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Kent. He is predominantly a specialist in Polish theatre but has also worked on actor training as both theorist and practitioner, including most recently making 66 films for Drama Online. Tadashi Suzuki is most recognized for his rigorous actor training approach, the Suzuki method, which has been adopted worldwide. In his illustrated lecture, Professor Allain introduced Suzuki’s life and works and discussed his training methods, as well as presenting Suzuki’s extraordinary achievements in creating specially-designed theatre spaces and performance communities in rural Japan.
Later throughout the term, we were fortunate to gain an insight into the world of film. Our drama students Sami Hundal and Max Pearson gave an excellent lecture on how they wrote and performed a film during the summer 2020 lockdown. They took the audience through how they rehearsed in different locations, and the difficulty of then finding an editor to stitch the scenes together. Mrs Keylock commended both students on their creative tenacity for undertaking such a challenging project in such unusual circumstances.
At the final drama society meeting of term, OB Jonno Davis spoke about his theatre and film career. The boys were happy to hear his advice on drama schools, the film industry and the audition process, with a particular focus on his recent role on the Amazon Prime show Hunters with Al Pacino.
Our President quoted, “This has been a resounding success as a term for the Drama Society. A subject that is so reliant on physical presence and face-to-face contact has overcome the odds and delivered some outstanding talks, broadening the boys’ further education prospects and giving the boys, myself included, great insight into the more academic side of theatre studies.”
Boycott Theatre Company has been meeting and workshopping a newly commissioned play entitled Choices. This original play tackles issues of teenage mental health and teenage issues, and the boys will continue to rehearse in the spring term before their performance to the rest of the year group one lunchtime.
The Upper School Technical Club have worked on different shows and continue to support the department, and we wish to thank all these boys for their hard work and commitment. Anybody interested in joining the Technical Club can apply to join in January.
Our drama scholars all performed some selected stories by OB Saki, commemorating 150 years. All performances were filmed and screened live by The Quarry theatre.
The Matchmaker, told by Josh Cooke
When Clovis Sangrail’s mother starts interfering in Clovis’s social life, he determines the only way to distract her is be find her a new husband…
The Quest, told by Rowan Bascetta-Pollitt
Mrs Momeby has lost her baby Erik and enlists the help of her houseguests to find him.
The Un-Rest Cure, told by Will Roberts
“You’ve heard of rest-cures for people who’ve broken down under stress of too much worry and strenuous living; well, you’re suffering from overmuch repose and placidity, and you need the opposite kind of treatment.”
Filboid Studge, told by Louis Cooke
Mark Spayley is in love. But before he can marry his beloved Leonore, he must come up with an advertising campaign for her father’s much unloved breakfast cereal brand. His solution is unusual, to say the least…
Information from The Quarry Theatre
To commemorate the 150th birthday of Old Bedfordian writer Saki (H H Munro), The Quarry Theatre, supported by Bedford School Trust, commissioned a few regular performers at The Quarry Theatre to record some of his best-known and best-loved short stories during the first lockdown. Our professional performers were joined by some of the Bedford School drama scholars as a celebration of this wonderfully savage and witty writer.
Saki’s influence is evident in the writing of PG Wodehouse, Noel Coward and GK Chesterton among others.
We will be publishing these readings in the run up to the 150th anniversary of his birth on 18 December this year. We hope you enjoy them!
This term the regular Architecture and Art Societies have been continuing remotely on Monday and Friday lunchtimes respectively. The priority with the Architecture Society has been to mix practical drawing sessions with talks; with three boys applying to UCL this year, the drawing component is crucial, with the drawing task they set always a daunting and slightly intimidating hurdle – this usually consists of a set of 30-minute drawings in response to a specific theme. In effect, this has to be passed to get an interview! So, boys have been challenged to do 20- to 30-minute drawings of a variety of buildings, views from where they are sitting followed by a group criticism looking at photos of the work on the Microsoft Teams chat. Hopefully, this has been fun as well as useful. In late September Jacques Bell (OB), who has just completed his architecture degree at Bartlett (UCL), gave an excellent and insightful talk about his application, interview and time on the degree course. For those boys applying to UCL this year, this was a very helpful talk. It has been good to see the Lower Sixth boys so keen to participate in talks this term. Charlie McCutcheon (Lower Sixth) gave a talk about ‘To what extent is architecture a display of art?’ which included Stonehenge, La Sagrada Familia and the Burj Khalifa and how the art world has influenced modern and historic architecture. Chris Sporton (Lower Sixth) talked about ‘The growth of modern tropical architecture in the face of global warming’, explaining the techniques used in modern tropical architecture, and how it can be implemented into western architecture with the challenges of climate change.
For the Art Society meetings, talks have been the main focus. Alex Edun and Henry Cudjoe (Lower Sixth) gave an excellent talk about their exciting project YBK Customs, which involves customising shoes. They talked passionately about their website and Instagram page, and explained how they started up, showing examples of shoes they have painted. Rhian John, International Officer from Norwich University of the Arts, gave a thought-provoking talk about careers in the arts and what options are out there. The objective was to remind boys that art can be more than just painting, printing and sculpture as important as they are. After leaving Bedford School, Charlie Campbell-Gray went on to study Fine Art at both the Royal Drawing School and the Glasgow School of Art. He later decided to pursue a career in the commercial art world after interning for a couple of London based art dealers; he now works at Christies, which, as you may know, is an international auction house that specialises in selling the finest works of art available to the market. Charlie specialises in Modern British Art, and he is responsible for the research and analysis of the works offered in this area. These include artists such as Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Lucien Freud, to name a few.
This term we have hosted the ARTiculation internal heat and, from the initial 13 entries, Harvey Toms, Andy Wong and Sami Shameem, all Upper Sixth, were selected for the final. Mr Finch was our adjudicator, with Sami Shameem’s authoritative and articulate presentation on Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks being selected to go through to represent the school at the regional heat next term.
Our only Gilbert Lloyd lecture for this term was given remotely by William Feaver who talked about the painter Lucian Freud. William was the art critic for the Observer and is a painter, curator and author who knew Freud for 30 years and has just published his second volume about Freud’s life, The Lives of Lucian Freud: FAME 1968-2011, which has received rave reviews. The lecture provided a fascinating insight into Freud’s extraordinary life and provided plenty of material for the essays the Lower Sixth were asked to do afterwards.
Well done to the boys who all took part in Bedford School’s first philosothon. The philosothon is a competition where students from across the country compete in philosophical inquiries of three stimuli.
The three stimuli picked were:
- If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one there to hear, does it make a sound?
- Is it ever morally permissible to harvest organs from clones?
- Should mandatory vaccination be necessary or does this clash with ideas of liberty and freedom prevalent in the modern world?
The debates were lively and entertaining, with particularly good arguments brought forward by both sides. Special notice goes to Krish Nair who is not actually taking philosophy but still offered a unique perspective and was instrumental in the debate.
From the Lower Sixth:
- Daniel Bello
- Sami Haroon
- Nathanael Hylton
- Krish Nair
- Deimis Sukys
From the Upper Sixth:
- Felix Lange
- Jakob Schmitt-Habersack
- Henry Tyrer
Duke of Edinburgh
Many boys have continued to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh this term, and it has been impressive to see the range and variety of activities that boys are taking part in and how they have adapted to the restrictions to keep their activities going. A Bronze Assessed Expedition and a Silver Expedition took place before and during half term in the local area, and it was great to see boys out walking using their navigation skills. Hopefully, more expeditions will be able to take place in the coming months.
COVID-19 has had a major impact on the CCF this term. The normal model of NCO-led cadet training has had to give way in the face of year group bubbles, and the contingent has been effectively halved as it has been impossible to train with the girls from Bedford Girls’ School.
However, what has not changed has been the initiative, resilience and determination of the cadets. Whilst they have been unable to lead others, our NCOs have worked hard on virtual training and planning for next term. All external events and competitions have been cancelled or postponed, but our Wednesday afternoon training has continued and attendance has been excellent. The Fifth Form have pushed on with their NCO training, and many cadets have managed to shoot on the range – a particular bonus for some of the NCOs as they rarely get the chance to show off their marksmanship.
Despite a delay to starting recruit training, interest in the Corps has been at a record high, and we have even managed to issue our new recruits with their uniform in a Covid-secure way.
This term has been a radical departure from the usual, and it has been a pleasure to see how both Cadets and Officers have adapted and innovated to meet the unprecedented challenge.
House Point Net Merits
|Rank||House||Average per Boy|
Group 4 Project (IB)
The winning project was ‘The dangers of scuba diving’ and the contributors were Ethan Ofusu, Marcus Gurney, Deimis Sukys, Nathan Sankersingh and Orlando Williams.
House Rugby Results
U14 (Fourth Form):
U15 (Remove Form):
U18 (Sixth Form – split year groups, as Upper Sixth did not have enough boys):
|5th||Ashburnham and Crescent|
HM Commendations (for outstanding individual pieces of work)
Well done to the following boys:
Oscar Whitcombe (Lower Sixth) for firstly winning the Arkwright Scholarship, and then subsequently going on to encourage Fifth Form pupils to apply for an Arkwright Scholarship, with an engaging presentation on Loom.
Dylan Swain (Lower Sixth) for his fantastic contribution to the extracurricular Drama and Classics Society this half term:
- Dylan hosted a discussion for the Classical Society as a follow up for Lockdown Film Club; a fantastic consideration of the movie. Well researched and very well presented!
- Dylan took a fascinating lecture on theatre and religion. He spoke eloquently on the inter-relationship between theatre and religion, covering Hinduism, Medieval theatre and shadow puppet theatre from the Middle East. Dylan took challenging questions for over 30 minutes and commanded the topic with intellectual curiosity and endeavour. This has been one of the best lectures this year!
David Hamel-Henn (Lower Sixth) for being so pro-active in approach to his volunteering. His ‘can do’ attitude made the most of a difficult situation on the last Wednesday afternoon of term. He productively completed the guided reading with his Y4 pupils over Teams. He came into school to pick up his reading book and went to the trouble to write a detailed report as to the progress of the pupils in his group. Well done, David!
Antonio Reale, Alfie Wilcocks and Sam Dicks (all Upper Sixth) have all given commendation worthy presentations this term, the first two boys for classics: an absolutely brilliant presentation made for the Classical Society debate on Ancient versus Modern Poetry! Well-researched and exceedingly well argued. And Sam for chemistry: Sam gave an outstanding and detail presentation on the chemistry and history of azo dyes. The presentation showed an excellent understanding of the chemistry behind the synthesis and the reasons for the colours of the dyes.
Despite the challenges faced this year, the Upper Sixth Mo Bros managed to make this year’s Movember campaign a real success. In a year when charities are facing difficulties in fundraising, we were delighted to be able to raise our highest ever total – £25,171 – which meant that we were top school and fourth highest team in the UK! As ever, as well as raising money for an excellent cause, Movember is about raising awareness of men’s health and working together to make a positive difference. The Mo Bros adapted to the situation by teaching all the Remove and Fifth form boys on Microsoft Teams, and also did remote assemblies in the Prep School and at Castle Newnham School. Tutor groups in younger years set their own challenges and the Fifth Form played a very successful game of Aussie rules football. The Movember video was shared far and wide, including by Movember UK who prefaced it with “The absolute legends of Bedford School have done it again..”. We have been really proud of the way that the boys have worked so well together and have made a real difference to men’s health this year.
Other charities supported to the tune of around £3,000 this term include: The Level Trust, providing devices for local schools; St John’s Hospice; the Bobby Moore Foundation; Bedford Foodbank and Friends for Refugees. The Charities Committee, with representatives from each year group, have worked hard this term and Miss Spyropoulos would like to thank all of them, as well as the Movember team.
No new monitors or scarves for this term – I am going to give that a little more time at the start of next term.
On behalf of you all, I know we would all like to say a massive thank-you to the staff. They are always amazing, of course, but never more so than this term. The teaching staff have had to cope very quickly with learning so many new ways of doing things: teaching online now seems almost old hat, but the individual and collective effort to get there was extraordinary; and the sharing of good practice and determination to get better every day has been equally inspiring. They have also had to adapt, like everybody else, to new places to work, new rules, extra duties and few opportunities to meet in person. The support staff have been equally inspirational, getting the whole school up and running for September in a COVID-safe way; and then keeping us all on track all term. All of these people have worked all hours in among an onsite community of 1,500 against the backdrop of a quickly spreadable virus. Remarkable all. Please do give them a round of applause at home; and don’t forget, as you are not here to say it personally this term, that a quick thank-you email or card goes a long way.
On that note, it simply leaves me to say Happy Christmas and New Year to you all; I do hope that all families find some peace, rest and happiness in the coming weeks.