As the Christmas holiday recedes and we begin a new term and a new year, it’s a good opportunity to look back over the Autumn Term and relive some of the many highlights in the Prep School.
As ever the boys shone in many areas.
It was very pleasing to see how many boys took part in House Drama. A fifth of all the boys in the school took part, achieving excellent results. The pieces that the houses performed were devised by the boys together with a member of staff, and based on different poems by Shel Silverstein. Well done to all, especially winners Whitbread House who reprised their hilarious performance in Final Assembly, and to George Ashcroft who won the best actor ‘Oscar’.
Other House competitions were equally well contested, not least House Rugby, with some superb and fiercely fought matches. The points awarded for merits and commendations tipped the balance in favour of Howard House, who were the winners of the term cup. This puts them ahead in the whole year’s competition, but with many more points on offer, not least in the House Singing competition, there is all to play for. The House Singing competition kicked off last term, and numerous practices for both Unison (the whole house) and Part Song have already taken place.
The term started with some devastating news about the death of much loved Head of Brass, Mr Bennett, who has inspired so many boys in his many years at the school. I have no doubt that he would have been proud of the music played by boys throughout the term. There were some marvellous musical performances, including Informal Concerts in November for Strings, Woodwind and Brass, and Piano and Voice, which took place in the Quarry Theatre bar area. This was a lovely venue and gave an opportunity for first-time performers as well as the more seasoned performers to show off their skills. In Final Assembly, we were treated to wonderful music from the Jazz Band, the prodigiously talented Brooklyn Fu in Y5 on violin, and a Christmas Medley from the Assembly Band, who have been inspiring us to sing all term.
The Chapel Choir, which includes 14 Prep School boys, had another great term. They sang in Ely Cathedral on 5th December for the memorial of James Crowden who was an OB, former Bedford School Governor, Olympic oarsman and Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire. Four boys from the Chapel Choir also sang in a performance of Benjamin Britten’s Saint Nicolas on Sunday 27 November in the Cornerstone Church, Milton Keynes. Joseph Rossington was Young Saint Nicolas while Harlan Todd, Wilfred Barker and Joseph Barrett sang the part of the pickled boys. Oliver Quince and James Keylock performed in the stunning musical, Sweeney Todd (I hope the pies which James handed around in the interval were not made by Mrs Lovett!).
On Monday 21st November boys in Y4 and Y6 had the opportunity to take part in a workshop with the Arensky Chamber Orchestra. The boys and the members of the orchestra combined to compose an original piece of music based on Ravel’s “La Valse”. They spent the day trying new instruments and devising the piece, before performing to parents and staff as huge Arensky-Bedford Prep School Super Orchestra over 100 strong.
In addition, our choirs were invited to sing at two further events: Y3 and Y4 boys sang at the Kiosk in Russell Park on 3rd December, and a combined Junior and Senior Choir sang at the Red Cross Christmas Fair which was held in the Great Hall.
However, the finest musical moment of the term was undoubtedly the magnificent Autumn Concert, which was the most enjoyable in my memory. On display were musicians who had clearly practised hard, not just in Thursday’s final rehearsal, but for many hours beforehand. It was also a very ambitious concert, with just under half the school involved, including excellent set movers. The Circle of Life, with orchestra, Djembe drummers and a huge choir, was the most ambitious piece of all and displayed a great sense of “growth mindset” as Mr Sanders suggested beforehand. All performances contributed to a wonderful evening, and it was kind of the Y3 and Y4 choir to give us a foretaste of Baba Yaga, written by Mr Groom, which will be performed next term.
The Whinchat magazine was published this term, which records events from 2015-16. I hope that you have received your copy, which should have come back to you via your son, and have enjoyed the pictures and articles. We still have one or two spare copies if they are needed or you can take a look online below.
TRIPS AND EVENTS
As ever numerous trips and events took place in the Autumn Term, including a number in partnership with Bedford Girls’ School. Y3 and Y4 enjoyed a magic show together and Y3 a Lego Day. Y5 boys and girls participated in a puzzle day and Y6 learnt to juggle and spin plates at the Circus Skills day, whilst Y7 and Y8 boys were invited to the Bedford Girls’ School disco.
On campus events included a Gothic Film and Pizza Night at which Y8 boys watched James Watkins’ production of The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe, and a Medieval Life History workshop for Y5, which involved boys coming to school in medieval costume.
Trips out of school included team-building trips to our beautiful nature reserve at Ickwell Bury, run by forest school leader (and, of course, art teacher!) Mrs Russell. Y7 boys also enjoyed the annual Spy Games visit, and Y7 geographers visited Priory Country Park. At the start of the Christmas break, a number of boys also enjoyed some fantastic skiing in Austria as well as a whole host of Tyrolean fun.
The last week of the Christmas term is probably my favourite of the year, punctuated as it is by the Carol Services. The singing was superb, and the boys who read did so with great confidence and clarity. Well done to readers Nirmay Patel, Jo Gardner and Isaac Raddan in Y3, George Sivills, Ben Ulvert, Fraser Morgan, Daniel Blight, Ben Pickering and Alex Carlton-Smith in Y4, Tanay Rai and Sam Cutler in Y5, Sam Maling and Will Reddy in Y6, and Will Maltby, Oliver Blakemore, James Cutler, Tom Herbert and David Adeyemi in Y8. Will Reddy deserves a particular pat on the back as he stepped in at the last minute to replace someone who was ill, so read with very little preparation. Y5 boys also went on the Panto trip to Milton Keynes Theatre in the last week before the Christmas holiday.
NEW FOR 2016-17
In order to improve boys’ reading habits and a love of reading in general, we introduced the Accelerated Reading programme last term. We started with Y3 and Y4, and this term we will widen the net to include all boys. We are getting to know the programme, and will need time to embed it smoothly into our school, but the early signs are very promising indeed. We would also like to thank those of you who have volunteered to read to our Y3 and Y4 boys, as we are certain that this will help with establishing excellent reading skills as the boys develop.
Other new academic initiatives that were introduced this term include the new maths scheme of work from Y3-Y6 and the new topic lessons for Y3 and Y4 (which take the place of history and geography and involve more immersive project style work). The topic work allows boys to create their own mini-projects and research areas of their own interest. The Y3 topic is Egyptians, and the Y4 is Romans. This project work was enriched by an Egyptians day, and Roman day, for which boys dressed up in the relevant outfits.
The Deep Thinkers Club has also been a valuable addition, with a number of boys enjoying talks and seminars on an array of interesting topics. They will follow this up with a piece of work which will culminate in a presentation in the Spring term; look out for further details in due course.
There have also been some great competitions over the term; Whitbread organised a Christmas DVD competition which ran for the first ten days of December. Boys had to identify a series of distorted images and the entry fee went to Whitbread’s nominated charity ‘Race against dementia.’ Charlie Faulkner was the lucky winner. Mrs Aldridge also ran a matchbox competition; the winner was the person who fitted the most amount of items into a matchbox. The dining hall ran a competition to “find the bean”. Charlie Lawrence and Sammy Rawlings came second and Harry Adams came first.
A team of Y5 and Y6 boys competed in the National Quiz Championships at St John’s College in Cambridge and made it through to the semi-final. Bedford Prep School had two teams taking part with the following Y5 and Y6 boys competing: Jamie Welch, Jamie Lawrence, Sam Mullaney, James Keylock, Zach Hone, Will Reddy, Sam Cutler and Shaun Thomas.
The biggest competition in terms of entrants was the Inky Blot 500 word story competition. Over 100 boys sent in entries and it was a real pleasure to read all the stories. Names were removed from the work before being passed to our judges, who then decided on an overall winner for each year group. There were also some ‘highly commended’ mentions. Very well done to all of the boys who took part! Each entry earned a House Point.
The winners of this term’s Inky Blot competition were: Y3 – Aryan Sohanpal, Y4 – Antonio, Policella, Y5 – Ruben Jacob, Y6 – Jack Harte, Y7 – Max Allen, Y8 – David Adeyemi.
This term’s Honourable Mentions/Highly Commended pieces were: Y3 – Prejeev Suhitharan, Y5 – Gabriel Almeida and Charlie Wallis, Y6 – Leo Butler and Luke Pollen Brooks, Y7 – Hayden Melly. There will be more Inky Blot competitions in the future, so keep writing!
The Prep Guild have been very busy this term and many thanks indeed to Mrs Spice and her fantastic team for all the great events they have organised. The Christmas Gift sale was lovely and afforded the opportunity for boys to buy a superb range of gifts, which I hope you benefitted from over Christmas. The team also organised a highly enjoyable Quiz Night in early October.
The Guild has also made two substantial donations to the Prep School. Firstly, they donated the funds for an outdoor space to go in the area outside the Tisdall building. The first phase is complete, as you can see from the sail in the Tisdall’s playground. Phase two will include seating and planters, with the intention of creating a space which can be used as both an outdoor classroom, as well as a quiet reading area during breaks and lunches. A competition to name the garden took place at the end of the last term, with the winning name to be announced shortly.
The Guild also donated Honours Boards detailing Head Boys, Headmasters and winners of the House competition each year since the Prep School started in 1992. These boards took centre-stage at the Prep School Head Boys’ reunion which welcomed over a third of the former Head Boys.
This term the Prep Guild are teaming up with the Bedford Girls’ School Association to host their third Burns’ Night Supper on the 28th January. I am sure it will be a super event.
This term has been a strong one for sport, with rugby taking centre-stage. 32 teams played over 260 games between them. U13A and B teams did especially well with win ratios of over 75% and U10B and U8Bs who won over 80%. U10 and U9 E teams were both unbeaten.
It was a very good term indeed for rugby across the whole school, with the school’s 1st XV performing superbly to make it through to the final of the Champions Trophy to have the chance of defending the national title they won last year. The were beaten by Tonbridge School in the final, although played very well indeed, cheered on enthusiastically by a few hundred Prep School boys.
In the Prep School, the U13A team had an especially successful time at the Wellington College Prep Schools Rugby Tournament, winning the trophy and notching up wins against Caldicott and Shrewsbury House, two particularly strong rugby schools.
Early in the term, we welcomed back OB and Captain of the victorious Northampton Steelbacks side which triumphed in the T20, Alex Wakely. Alex brought in the T20 trophy to show us and talked to the boys about leadership in an assembly.
In swimming, five teams swam in nine fixtures, with two boys, Eamon Bradley and Luke Pollen-Brooks, being particularly successful. They picked up three medals between them in the ESSA East /South East Divisions Swim Championships on 25th November. Luke raced in all five of the championship events: 50-metre backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke, freestyle and the 100-metre individual medley, and Eamon in four. Both boys did incredibly well, not only winning medals – Eamon Gold in the butterfly and Silver in the 100-metre individual medley, and Luke Bronze in the breaststroke – both typically finished in the top 8 and or higher in all their races.
Luke also won a bronze medal for the Antigua National team at the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Swim Championships in Antigua from the 6-8 November. Not only did he pick up the bronze in the 100-metre individual medley, he also helped the team to second place overall (a first for the team in their 26-year history) thanks to fourth place finishes in the majority of his races.
Details of other school sports competitions can be seen at the school’s sports website.
It has been a very strong term for charity too. In the Upper School, the boys have been raising money for the Movember Campaign. Hopefully, in November you will have noticed the cultivation of a few interesting moustaches among some of our Prep School staff in support of the annual Bedford School Movember campaign. This year’s Movember videos made by the Upper School can be seen by clicking on the links below.
In the Prep School, we were delighted to be able to make donations to our designated charities in various assemblies. Mark Saville from SpecialEffect received a cheque for £1,770.49 from Howard House and Helen Dixon from Ride High received a cheque for £1,842.64 from Bunyan House. Banita Mistry from Keech Hospice received a cheque for £1,533.83 from Whitbread House and a representative from the Motor Neurone Disease Association will soon be coming into School to receive a cheque from Harpur House. Well done to the boys for raising this money last year.
This term we also had a visit from an ISI inspection team. Thanks must go to the whole community for the response to the inspection in what was a tough week. Many thanks to parents for filling out questionnaires, to teachers for going that extra mile at an already busy time, and to the boys themselves who were brilliant at adapting and talking to the inspectors. Due to the nature of these inspections, the report will take some time to be published and any initial feedback is confidential until then. However, I will say how proud I am of the way that everyone involved welcomed our visitors and showed the school in its best possible light.
The most important awards of the term are the kindness awards, given to boys for exceptional kindness. These always cause headaches to the Heads of Year, because there are so many boys who do so many good things to support others. Mrs Travis nominated the whole of her tutor group for the way they looked after Joshua Jeganathan who has spent the term in a wheelchair after undergoing a difficult operation. Joshua himself deserves a special mention for the resilience he has shown and the very impressive way he has coped with the situation. The winners were those boys who have been kind, even when it was the most difficult thing to do. Well done to Harry Brown (Y3), Henry Whitfield (Y4), Oliver Smith (Y5), Barnaby James (Y6), Harry Wootton-Evans (Y7) and Arun Nanda (Y8). We also awarded two more academic colours to those boys in Y8 who had made it in the top 10% of academic performers in Y8. Congratulations to Olaluwa Apesin and Dylan Swain.
We can look forward to an equally busy and successful Spring Term. I wish you all a very Happy New Year and a tremendously successful 2017.