We have come to the end of the academic year; a hush has descended across the Prep School, and summer stretches out long and luxuriously in front of the boys – they have certainly earned a break. The summer holidays are very important for children to relax, take stock, be whatever they want to be for a bit and give their brains and imaginations free rein to expand in different ways.
In the last Whinchat News of the year, I am going to attempt to capture some of the highlights of a terrific term and end with some suggestions of productive things boys might do over the holidays.
The term has been characterised by some stunning performances, both musical and dramatic. Both were combined in our first show of the term, Bluebeard. The musical was written by our Musician in Residence, Mr Groom. It follows the trials and tribulations of the eponymous Bluebeard, in desperate search of a wife to help make his vast and lonely castle easier to live in. However, it is not long before his dark past is revealed. He has had a number of previous wives who have all died in suspicious circumstances. It was an absolutely superb show, with wonderful music and highly focused acting from all, particularly Dylan Swain and Harvey Bolger as brothers Bluebeard and Blackbeard, and Harlan Todd and Jude Sanders as the beautiful sisters. There were some laugh out loud moments too, especially those delivered by the highly incompetent two knights of the two-sided table, played by Dominic Russell Smith and Joshua Cooke. Our second show was another tour de force, an outdoor version of one of my favourite novels, Treasure Island. Again, highly accomplished acting made it easy to forget that these were young boys. Will Roberts was outstanding as young Jim Hawkins, as was Rowan Bascetta Pollitt as the crazy Ben Gunn, and Freddie Pelling as dangerous charmer Long John Silver. The cast did an amazing job, especially considering the havoc wreaked by rain on the performance schedule. Both plays had a plethora of talent in all the supporting roles.
Music making has also been wonderful this term. The Assembly Band has been a wonderful new addition, the Jazz Band played at the beginning of Speech Day, the Informal Concerts have been a joy to listen to, and the recent Prep School Concert, as those who were there will know, was just outstanding. We also had a very successful House Music competition. See side panel for a full list of music cup winners which were presented at Final Assembly.
Cricket was affected by, in the words of Mr Lincoln, some “very English weather”. However, amazingly, despite the rain, 90 fixtures were played, with 63 victories and 25 losses, and lots of very good cricket. Notable wins for the 1st XI included a very exciting, last over win against Caldicott, who went on to win the Jet Cup, and a triumph against Bedfordshire by 51 runs. Henry Warren’s 108 not out against Oundle was the individual high of the season.
The 2nd XI and the U11A also both enjoyed highly successful seasons, winning 7 from 10 and 6 from 8 games respectively. George Mansell deserves a special mention: not only did he score an unbeaten 80 playing against Bedfordshire U12, helping to guide Bedford Prep to a memorable win, but he also took no less than four five-wicket hauls, bowling leg spin, something he had only just started in March.
Congratulations should go to the U10A team who after a difficult start to the season showed great resilience and determination to win their final two games of the season. In all, over 230 boys represented the school at cricket. U8, U10 and U11 had fixtures to D team level, and the U13 fielded teams to sixth team level. The Fifths had an unbeaten season.
Finally, the U9 A, B and C teams need to be commended not only for collectively winning all of their nine fixtures to leave the U9s unbeaten for the season but also for the fantastic skill they showed along the way. They were lucky enough to meet Alistair Cook before one of their fixtures so hopefully, that has inspired them on to greater things. See below for outstanding bowling and batting performances.
Sports Day was also superb, with every placing contributing to the closest of House Competitions, with only just over 3% of the marks separating fourth from first place. Harpur triumphed narrowly, proving a valuable win for them in the Term and Year House competition.The Athletics season has also been enjoyable, with fixtures taking place whenever rain allowed. Highlights include a win for the Y6 team in the local League and a second place in the District Athletics, with Hayden Melly and Joshua Stewart winning gold medals in the turbo javelin and the high jump respectively. At the East Area Prep Championships, Lewis Schael (Y8) finished second in the discus, as did the Y6 relay team. Alex Edun (Y7) won gold in the long jump.
Swimming has continued all year, with Y3 swimmers providing hope for future strength in this sport. Four Y8 boys, Rowan Spong, George Winder, Harvey Toms and Tobias Todd represented the school in the U13 IAPS National finals, coming 8th in the country. Tobias Todd was also the inaugural winner of the Louise Thomas tennis trophy.
Finally, on a sporting front, boys were denied a chance to avenge last year’s loss at the staff vs boys golf fixture by very heavy rain. We were compensated by having front row seats for a very exciting storm, complete with thunder and lightning. Finlay Cummings won two golf tournaments, the UK Kids Golf National finals and the Shires Junior Golf tour final, “pocketing” the top prize of a family holiday to Gran Canaria! At the ISGA tournament in May, Shaun Thomas in Y5 came second in the U12 Stableford competition, and also came second in a PGA junior competition in the States. And, in the Bedford Prep School Open Philip Hughes played very well to edge out Finlay Cummings to take the trophy this year.
In terms of sport, it is most important for us in the Prep School that boys participate, enjoy their sport, keep fit and understand the benefits of working as a team, do their best and support others to do their best. It is always enjoyable winning (and we will congratulate the boys when they win), but we feel that, often, just as much is learnt in defeat, as long as we respond with grace both in victory and loss. I would like to pay special tribute to members of the sports department who work their magic and navigate the complexities of the fixture list. Our aim is to get even more boys involved in competitive fixtures next year.
Speech Day was a thoroughly enjoyable event. It took place in the Great Hall on 25th June 2016. The Guest of Honour was Jonno Davies: an Old Boy of Bedford School who is now a professional actor with a number of impressive stage, small and large screen credits to his name, including a part in Kingsman: The Secret Service. He had already appeared in the Prep School because he was our judge for the inaugural House Drama competition. Jonno was Prep School Head Boy 11 years ago.
There was a subtle change this year: the name was changed from Prize-Giving to Speech Day, and this is to reflect a change of emphasis; we enjoy rewarding the prize-winners, of course, but we also wish to celebrate the efforts of the whole school and the events of the year. We enjoyed the opportunity of formally congratulating the Y8s for their years in the Prep School and wished them luck as they move on to the Upper School.
Speeches were given by Headmaster, Ian Silk, Head Boy, Harry Constantine, and Guest of Honour, Jonno Davies. The theme of the speeches year was something that we have talked about in numerous assemblies over the year: that in order to succeed we, boys, teachers, all of us, need a growth mindset. We will enjoy success if we continue to work hard, learn from the occasional mistake, and use knock-backs to sustain us and give us the belief to become stronger. Music was provided by the Jazz Band, playing Sugar by Stanley Turrentine and Blue Bolero by Abdullah Ibrahim as guests entered the Great Hall. We were also treated to a beautiful rendition of Kleines Klavierstuck No.2 by Liszt, which was played by Hamza Noor.
As usual, a number of trips have taken place to enrich what we do in the classroom. Y6 dressed as Tudors for their excursion to Kentwell Hall, whilst Y8 and Y7 Latin scholars visited Verulamium and Lunt Roman Fort respectively. Y4s meanwhile, enjoyed an annual pilgrimage to Caythorpe for the PGL trip and dressed as Vikings for their Anglo-Saxon day. Each Y8 tutor group enjoyed bushcraft, including teambuilding and fire-making, at Ickwell Nature Reserve. Y3 boys visited the Bunyan museum and enjoyed a Science sleepover. They had an amazing time at the Science Sleepover: they started with a reptile roadshow, followed by a visit to the observatory and then a sleep in the Erskine May Hall. Breakfast the next morning was kindly provided by Mrs Riddell and Mrs Ward.
There was the small matter of summer exams for boys this term, which seemed to go smoothly. For Y8 boys the exams were followed by an amazing post-exam programme. They had training in first aid and school social media, a history talk on slavery, a geography field trip to the Great Ouse, a Moving On workshop and bushcraft at Ickwell, and a range of outstanding speakers. Many thanks indeed to all those who gave up their time to talk to the boys. Judging by the number of questions afterwards, they loved the talks, and there was a really impressive range. Mrs Sogan talked about financial services and banking, Miss Karavaggelis talked about bioengineering, Dr Barnes explained what life was like as a doctor in the baby special care unit, Mr Linney revealed insights into the world of the medicinal chemist, Mr Setterfield gave the view from the air and lectured on what it takes to become a pilot in the RAF, and Mr Dicks gave a talk entitled “Disruption through technology in industry”.
We will really miss the Y8s, they have been brilliant, and I add here the advice I gave them at Speech Day. It is borrowed from Nelson Mandela’s inspirational book “A Long Walk to Freedom.” He says:
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”
Our Y8s have but a short walk to the Upper School in September – we wish them well and will follow their progress with interest as those few steps open up an increasingly bright world of opportunity and excitement.
As ever there have been numerous other wonderful events at the Prep School. Boys competed in a splendid Poetry Competition. The theme for this year’s poetry composition was simply ‘School’. Some amazing poems were created and a display of the best will be available to view in the Inky come September. In addition, house points were available for handwriting. The winning houses were: Poetry Composition – Harpur, Poetry Recitation – Whitbread and Poetry Handwriting – Whitbread. Individual winners can be found below. The English department also arranged for an author visit. Josh Lacey (author of “A Dog called Grk”) visited on 22nd June and fired boys’ imaginations.
We had a closely contested Science and DT family challenge in which families competed to make the strongest spaghetti bridge, and the speediest iodine clock. Events in school included the Guys and Guardians workshop for Y6, the fabulous Lego workshop for Y3 boys and girls from Bedford Girls’ School, a Sex and Relationships workshop for Y7 boys and a Rocks and Dinosaurs roadshow for Y6. Somehow some boys also managed to find the time to do LAMDA exams.
Boys, staff and parents raised £8000 this year for our four house charities this year. This was helped by large contributions from Mr Allen, who sold off his Northampton Saints kit, and money raised by 35 Year 8 boys and five staff who did the military mud run. An embarrassing picture of the Headmaster exists somewhere on social media. Try to avoid it if you can!
There were two notable art events this term. The day after the half-term break we enjoyed the House Art exhibition in the Quarry Theatre. The theme was Circus, and nearly 100 entries included a variety of original, thought-provoking, intelligent and skilful interpretations of the theme. A handful of boys also entered the Harpur Trust competition, on the theme of Bedford, to celebrate their 450th year. The winners were beautifully displayed in the Higgins Gallery and included Henry Williams’ stunning print, which earned 2nd place in the 11-14 category. Sam Wells and Bradley Cole also have their pieces displayed. The exhibition is open until the end of August, and I can thoroughly recommend it.
New initiatives this year and next
This year we had our first Move-up Morning, which gave the boys a chance to meet their tutor for next year. It was wonderful to welcome most of the 111 new boys to the school on Friday 24th June. Current boys, as well as meeting their new classmates, also had the opportunity of welcoming new boys to the community, some were also buddies.
Over the summer the works department will be undertaking some major projects throughout the school. In the Prep School they will be updating the heating in the Inky building, providing new IT to a number of classrooms, and building a new outdoor classroom to go in the Tisdalls courtyard, which has been kindly paid for by the Prep Guild.
Next year, Y3 and Y4 will be doing more topic work, which will involve projects utilising skills from across the curriculum. We will also be introducing the Accelerated Reader programme, and we would appreciate any parent who would like to volunteer to listen to boys read. Mr Beckwith, as the new Head of Maths, will also be introducing an exciting new scheme of work for Maths. We are constantly looking at ways to improve, so are always interested in appropriate ideas. We are also expecting an inspection next year, which will be carried out under new ISI guidelines. We welcome the opportunity for external verification of what we are doing.
Two new teaching members of staff will join our ranks next year: Miss Danielle Boughey joins us as the Drama GTA, leading the teaching of Speech and Drama. Miss Boughey takes over from Miss Portsmouth who leaves us to study for her PGCE. She has been brilliant and we thank her enormously for all she has done. Joy Leeson starts as a Maths teacher to replace Mr Wickens. Mrs Rebecca Russell takes over as art teacher from Mrs Chance who leaves us after 22 years. Mrs Chance set up the Inky library when it first changed from the Inky assembly hall, and has taught art ever since. We are also delighted to welcome Lindsay Chessum as our new art technician. A very talented local artist, she was heavily involved in the recent Harpur Trust 450th Art competition. Some of her work can be seen here http://lindsaychessumart.weebly.com/
As I said at the start of the newsletter, the summer holiday is a really good time to unwind and discover something new, about yourself or about the world (or both!). Below are some ideas of things to do over the summer. It is by no means exhaustive, but a list of some of the things I enjoyed doing at our boys’ age. Most importantly, boys should spend a good portion of their time reading good books. As Confucius said: “You cannot open a book without learning something”.
Things to do this summer
Tidy your room, watch the stars, look for shapes in the clouds, go somewhere new, play outdoors, go swimming, build things (sandcastles, radios, dens, treehouses), read, read somewhere exciting, read in an extraordinary place (take a picture and send it to Mr Affleck or Mrs Lumley-Wood), write a story, write some poetry, send a postcard, write a long letter to someone (by hand), make a scrapbook, relax, embrace “boredom” (this won’t happen when you are older), invent a new game, go for a jog, discover 10 (20, 30) new facts that you didn’t know before, use a new word from the dictionary every day, go camping, visit somewhere culturally significant, cook for your family, play some board games, do the washing up occasionally, plant a small garden with some herbs or flowers, make some music, listen to lots of music, make a film, watch some classic movies.
Finally, two big thank yous: firstly, to all of our parents for trusting what we do, and realising that our aim is always to provide the most outstanding education we possibly can. We are happy to listen to your ideas to improve too. Secondly, to the staff, who teach and those who support the teaching. schools rely on discretionary effort, in other words, those who go above and beyond to provide outstanding educational opportunities. Our staff are amazing at doing this. When I think of what makes a good teacher I am reminded of the words of the philosopher Carl Jung who said:
“An understanding heart is everything in a teacher and cannot be esteemed highly enough. One looks back with appreciation to the good teachers, but with real gratitude to those that touched our human feeling. The curriculum is just so much raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” I thank our teachers for their efforts in this direction.
With best wishes