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SPRING ~ 2012 THE MUSE ISSUE 2

MUSE

ACROSS THE CURRICULUM AND BEYOND Opportunities to grow, learn and take up fresh challenges


Visits & Voyages This list is by no means

Visitors In

Voyages Out

Alzheimer’s Society Talk, Year 9

Bedford Hospital, Year 13 Physics Students Studying Medical Imaging

exhaustive, but offers a flavour of guests in and visits out during the Spring Term.

Bedfordshire Police, Personal Safety Talk Charlie Lupton of Make Your Own History, Year 4 Tudor Workshop Developer for a Day, Year 9 Careers Workshop Dr Sullivan, performs The Death of Nancy from Oliver Twist Happy Puzzles Day Harpur Trust Charity Workshop with Home-Start and Uprising Charities Jack Trelawny, Children’s Author Law and Languages Careers Evening Lucy James, GB Junior Medalist and Olympian Hopeful

Bedfordshire Festival of Music, Speech and Drama British Schools’ Museum, Year 6 Cambridge Arts Theatre, Weekend Breaks, by John Godber Doctors’ Show, Year 11 Duxford Imperial War Museum, Year 5 Friends Meeting House, London, English Literature ‘Love through the ages’ Conference Girls’ Leadership Team Training Weekend GSA Business Challenge, Year 10, Burgess Hill Hazard Alley Trip, Year 6

Mayor Dave Hodgson, talk to Bedford Girls’ School Politics Society

HMS Bristol, Portsmouth, CCF Royal Navy Division

Mr Creed, Talk on War in Bedford

Ickwell, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme Training

Mrs Zaman, Insight into Islam Peter Churchill, Pianist, Singer, Writer and Performer

Institute of Education, London, Years 12 and 13 English Language Conference

Peter Joyce, Isaac Newton Science Talk, Year 5

Institute of Education, London, Year 12 Mathematics Conference

Professor Chris Binns, University of Leicester, Harpur Science Forum

London, Year 5 Cultural Trip

Professor Simon Conway Morris, University of Cambridge, Harpur Science Forum

Milton Keynes Theatre, Taming of the Shrew

Mayor’s Parlour, Borough Hall, Bedford

Richard Denton, Children and Young People Development Officer for Bedfordshire Police, Surf Safely Campaign

Model United Nations, Sixth Form John Warner School

Richard Fuller MP, talks to Bedford Girls’ School Politics Society

Paris, Year 12 French Students

North Wales, CCF Adventure Training

Roman Re-enactor, Year 7 Classics Day

Philosophy and Ethics Conference, London Years 12 and 13

Year 4 Dance Workshop with Local Primary Schools

Pueto de Santa Maria, GCSE - U6 Spanish Trip Snowdonia, CCF Expedition Sports Photography Workshop, Biddenham University of Bedfordshire, Year 8 Scientists in Sport Event University of Cambridge, Cavendish Laboratory Lecture, Physics Students University of Cambridge, UKMT Team Maths Challenge 2012 Victoria and Albert Museum, GCSE and A Level Textiles Students

Bedford Girls’ School | www.bedfordgirlsschool.co.uk


Editor’s Insight

A

s we launch ourselves into a brand new term, I hope this edition of The Muse offers you an opportunity to reflect upon the many events and activities the girls have enjoyed since returning to school after the Christmas Holidays. Across the curriculum and beyond, opportunities to grow, learn and take up fresh challenges have been offered and grasped with vigour, enthusiasm and a developing sense of personal and collective confidence. As the school becomes more secure in its status as an integrated entity so does its community become more adept at trying new things, working together and embracing change. In this issue, we want to share with you a snapshot of the many varied, stimulating and exciting opportunities open to the girls and to explain how, by finding the courage to take part in new experiences, they are empowered to discover different aspects of themselves and achieve greater success as a team. With nearly 160 girls taking part, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme is an increasingly popular extra-curricular programme, presenting the girls with a chance to use resourcefulness, teamwork and determination to earn a tangible award and develop life skills. The scheme encourages the girls to think strategically about how they can best reach their goals and improve their own outcomes while simultaneously supporting them as they make reasoned, independent choices. Similarly, while our Thinking Skills programme strives to help the girls develop their capacity for intellectual and critical self-reliance, it does so while nurturing their boldness

and ensuring that independence does not equate to isolation. Through changing their responses to questions and approaching problems in different ways, the girls learn that critical thinking is a valuable skill and an exciting resource. Equally, they also understand that collective discussion and the objective sharing of ideas is a vital proficiency and a source of intellectual strength. As one of our core values, boldness is at the heart of our vision and provision. We are committed to offering all girls opportunities whereby they can test and stretch themselves beyond the parameters of their own expectations and modesty. To do this, it is essential that we equip them with an innate ability to self-appraise, to reason and to develop as people within a framework which is caring, supportive and structured. From Year 3 to Year 13 we aim to deliver the richest possible learning experience for all of the girls. Our imaginative and innovative approach to teaching, helps to build the girls’ involvement in their own learning process and increases their capacity for empathy and higher-level understanding. Reflections on the Homefront and Emotional Themes Behind the Scenes, two very different studies of World War II, demonstrate this structured approach to independent thinking and varied approach to learning. Girls are able to grasp, process and appreciate even the most complex topics with a maturity and understanding beyond their years. I very much hope you enjoy this edition of The Muse and share with me an enormous pride in the many talents, achievements and abilities the girls continue to demonstrate and develop.

“ Across the

curriculum and beyond, opportunities to grow, learn and take up fresh challenges have been offered and grasped with vigour, enthusiasm and a developing sense of personal and collective confidence.

Jo MacKenzie Head

The Muse | 02


Inspired by

Design for Life

W

ith an estimated

Jane Brearley, Teacher in Charge of

Jacovou has been working with the pupils

worth of £21bn a year,

Textiles, explained: “Design is a huge

on their individual projects; helping them

British fashion

area of potential future employment for

develop their creative techniques and

isn’t just about designer

young people and the high standards of

bringing her knowledge of the latest trends

dresses and catwalk shows. It’s seriously

British creativity are respected worldwide.

and insights into the classroom.

big business and one of the UK’s most

Design is an essential part of young

important creative industries.

people’s lives and key to how they build

At Bedford Girls’ School pupils studying textiles who have an interest in working in the sector are encouraged to take an analytical view of the industry and to make objective judgments about realistic career

and communicate their identity. The girls are surrounded by branding and design

It has been an inspiring collaboration for the students. Rebecca Dipple one of the students explained:

statements everyday and are already critical consumers who regularly make informed choices based on designers’ work.

“ Charlotte is amazing for

ideas and advice. She has pushed

paths. They are also supported in making

The Victoria and Albert Museum is an

the most of their talents through intensive

important creative hub in which students

studies of other artists’ and designers’ work

and professionals can study, collect and

and then incorporating what they have

reinterpret visual ideas. The exhibits also

techniques; techniques I would

learnt in their own pieces.

tell us how textile design has evolved from

never have thought of before.

In early February, girls in Years 10 to 13 were able to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum, home of the country’s largest and most comprehensive collection of fashion and textiles. From robes worn by a Daoist Priest, dating back to 1650, to a

past to present. In introducing the girls to

me to creatively explore different

some of society’s richest cultural resources,

Her enthusiasm has driven me to

the trip provided exciting inspiration for

be far more motivated in order

their own projects and sparked ideas for

to achieve my personal goal. She

visual motifs and forms that have enhanced their own imaginative designs.”

has been truly inspiring!

plethora of exhibits from the key points in

Years 12 and 13 Textile students have been

contemporary fashion history, the museum

also been delighted to welcome former

proved the perfect springboard for the girls

DAHS pupil, Charlotte Jacovou, to their

to launch into their own innovative projects

recent lessons. A lifestyle and futures

informed by the work of some of the world’s

trend editor at Fashion Snoops, a global

also enjoyed the window it has provided

foremost creative designers.

trend research and advisory service, Miss

into the world of fashion and the career

Many have not only leant from her design skills and knowledge, but have

opportunities available. One such student, Abiola Onabule said: “Having Charlotte assist us in our Textiles lessons has been an invaluable source of help. As someone who wants to go into the fashion industry, it has really inspired and helped me to be able to

Former DAHS pupi l, Charlotte Jacovou

talk to a trend forecaster and find out what it is like to be a part of that industry. It has been a fantastic experience”. 03 | The Muse


THINKING SKILLS: An introduction from Cliff Canning, Director of Thinking Skills

A

ll of us have the capacity to

appropriately and quickly, thinking skills

sharpen their minds, making them more alert

think in particular ways in

can greatly increase our comprehension

to thinking and learning opportunities and

order to achieve a desired

of the information we receive and help us

encouraging their eagerness to grasp them.

outcome and we each use

determine more successful outcomes in our

While there’s much talk of independent

different types of thinking in our daily lives.

responses to it.

Reasoning, problem solving, imagining,

Bedford Girls’ School is committed to

matched by a commitment in terms of

remembering and decision-making are just

educating the whole person, the girl in

curriculum timetabling and expertise. At

a few examples of the invaluable mental

all her aspects, and thinking skills play a

Bedford Girls’ School, Thinking Skills

tools everyone uses to appraise, analyse

pivotal role in ensuring we achieve this and

lessons are a key component of making

and assess information and to make sense

our girls become capable well-rounded

independent learning a practical reality by

young women who are able to succeed and

helping the girls to develop their capacity

achieve throughout their lives.

for creative thinking, building their resilience

of the world around us. Rather like a mental filing cabinet, Thinking Skills help people readily access and utilise these tools in a vast array of situations and to do so consciously and with a clear

In Scandinavia and North America, Thinking Skills have been taught at several schools and universities for more than 20 years.

learning in UK schools, it’s not always

as independent learners and empowering them with the ability to evaluate critically information in a wide variety of situations.

Harvard University, in the US, has long

As the girls’ capacity for independent

been one of the leading exponents of the

thought increases, they begin to participate

As with all learnt practical skills, this

implementation of Thinking Skills within

more widely in lessons and, although

process can be honed and developed

education. Its Visible Thinking and Thinking

examination success is not the primary aim

with practice and through the use of

Classroom have developed an international

or purpose of the thinking skills programme,

new techniques. As well as helping us

reputation for successfully keying into

grades and standards are raised across

to apply different types of thinking more

children’s natural curiosity; helping them to

the curriculum.

sense of purpose.

The Muse | 04


Thinking Skills: An Introduction Continued

Up to and including Year 9, all girls have a timetabled Thinking Skills lesson every

“ We are

fortnight. The effect of these lessons is then felt in Years 10, 11, 12 and 13

one of the

where girls are increasingly required to apply critical thinking to every area of the

few schools

curriculum.

in the UK to

As part of the programme, the girls

offer Thinking

are asked to think of themselves as philosophers. In seeking answers to

Skills as a timetabled subject.

complex questions, they are asked to use

Already, the girls’ growing

more than just amassed knowledge and

confidence in their abilities

are encouraged to apply different types of thinking to a challenge or problem. They

as active participants in their

also hold objective discussions in groups

own life-long learning is

where they present reasoned and informed

impacting positively across

arguments for their own position while By not merely focusing on the ‘What?’

respecting and acknowledging the value of

the curriculum. They very

questions but also encouraging pupils

each other’s contributions.

much enjoy the opportunity

Collective enquiry is critical, creative

to employ higher-level

to consider the ‘Why?’ and ‘How?’ questions, the teaching of Thinking Skills helps the girls structure their innate desire to evaluate and comprehend the world around them. Their confidence as active participants in their own education increases and they develop transferable skills they can employ to great effect throughout their lives, not just academically.

and analytical and taps into girls’ natural collaborative ability. More so than boys,

abstract thinking.

girls are highly adept at group work, tend to be excellent listeners and are supportive of one another. Where thinking skills really extends the challenge to girls is in pushing them beyond the comfort zone of seeking peer approval through acquiescence where opinions may differ

teachers to look at things in different ways and to learn how, sometimes, refining the question might lead to a better answer. The blunter the instrument a craftsmen uses, the more rudimentary the artifact

In short, thinking skills are not an end

and they fear upsetting a friend or of being

in themselves but a means to an end.

perceived as being impolite in expressing

Utilising them helps girls evolve into self-

a different viewpoint. For the most part,

motivated intentional learners who are

girls have a tendency to be risk adverse

fully prepared for life. When pupils are

and sometimes see a conflict between

simply required to amass more and more

expressing their individuality and being

knowledge in the pursuit of examination

liked and accepted by their social group.

We are one of the few schools in the UK

success, they are primarily accidental

Undertaking collective enquiry from a more

to offer Thinking Skills as a timetabled

learners who are not always equipped

philosophical perspective helps them to

subject. Already, the girls’ growing

to apply knowledge they’ve acquired in

understand that knowledge and thoughts

confidence in their abilities as active

school to their lives beyond education.

can be discussed in the abstract, can be

participants in their own life-long learning

depersonalised and that they are able to

is impacting positively across the

be analytical, critical and compassionate

curriculum. They very much enjoy the

without fearing disapproval.

opportunity to employ higher-level abstract

Universities, particularly Oxbridge, and employers are increasingly looking for applicants with expertise, talent and

he’ll produce. Similarly, sharpening the mind through analysis, evaluation, creativity and higher-level thinking shapes and hones the intellect and its capacity for deeper comprehension.

thinking and are increasingly contributing

creative approaches, enabling them to

Succinctly, our Thinking Skills programme

see beyond the subject and apply higher-

ensures the girls are equipped with the

level thinking and problem-solving skills.

sharpest and most appropriate mental

Our commitment to educating girls in their

tools to creatively craft and shape their

In the near future, we are hoping to

entirety and as individuals underpins our

individual talents and ability. It encourages

undertake collaborative research with

whole ethos. Thinking Skills play a vital

original and independent thought but

Exeter University who are experts in the

role in ensuring our aims and objectives

requires that answers and opinions be

field of Thinking Skills and have recognized

are realized in solid, practical ways that will

qualified through a rational, logical and

our innovative and successful approach to

help the girls throughout their lives.

critical process. It helps both pupils and

its implementation.

05 | The Muse

to lessons and demonstrating creative and independent thought in their work.


The Second World War remains the single most significant event in Modern European History but as fewer and fewer children are able to turn

Reflections On the Homefront

to a relative and ask: “What did you do in the war?”, conveying its relevance to girls in the Junior School has never been more important or more challenging.

W

hen many children’s

Without the means of a tangible and

knowledge of the conflict

personal connection, the sheer weight

stems solely from

and complexity of the subject matter and

contemporary films, novels

its far-reaching global consequences can

and television programmes, the period can

make studying the period bewildering

already seem quite alien and remote by the

and daunting. Concentrating solely on the

time they encounter it as part of the Year

study of facts and documented resources

5 curriculum. While girls may have great

can also provoke a degree of disaffection

empathy for fictional characters they’ve

with the value of historical accuracy and

encountered and have a rudimentary understanding of the broader human cost of warfare, they might not yet have grasped the wider reaching impact of World War II

a disassociation from its contemporary relevance. If History is not kept exciting and pertinent children can be pushed away from the intrinsic value of the pursuit of historical truth and towards the more

or developed an understanding of the very

sanitised less than authentic accounts

real consequences of the conflict, still felt

of warfare favoured by the entertainment

in their own communities today.

industry. At best, this means some children The Muse | 06


Reflections On the Homefront Continued

are missing out on fostering the skills of

to function under normal conditions and

considered how the war’s lasting legacy

enquiry, enrichment of knowledge and

both Bedford High School and Bedford

of change, trauma, bravery and emotional

ability to discern offered by the study of the

Girls’ Modern School, latterly Dame Alice

hardship has impacted upon their own

past. At worst, it could render the future

Harpur School, were forced to operate a

families, their neighbours and the

actions of society, and their consequences,

shift system where one group of children

wider community.

less secure and more erratic as an

attended each morning and another in the

increasing lack of historical understanding

afternoon.

Having thought widely about both the lives

leaves us vulnerable to repeating our

of children during World War II and the

forbear’s mistakes.

intergenerational legacy of the conflict, the

Over the Spring Term, the Junior School employed a number of creative and innovative teaching techniques to help

“ In enabling the girls to look at the familiar surrounds of

girls were prepared for a further challenge. Inspired by learning about wartime entertainment the girls had to produce

girls in Year 5 develop an informed

the school buildings from the

and perform an afternoon of 1940s

understanding of the huge impact of the

perspective of social historians,

themed entertainment for guests. Charged

conflict and to spark an enthusiasm for

with applying all of their knowledge and

ongoing historical study. To this end, the

the visit added a new dimension

girls were asked to become both active

to their perception of the war

Bedford during the conflict into dancing,

and ignited a fresh enthusiasm

singing and music, the girls worked

detectives and protagonists in discovering and telling the story of Bedford during the war. They were encouraged to consider the effects of the war at a local level and to

for studying the past.

compare and contrast their lives today with those of children living in the town during the period. They also began to use the school itself as a historical resource and to think about the emotions, thoughts and physical circumstances of the girls who had sat in their very classrooms nearly 70 years ago.

insight into the lives of people living in

hard to ensure their performances were historically accurate and representative of the entertainment enjoyed at the time. Performing before an audience comprised

The shift from using documents and texts

of parents, other relatives and invited

as solo resources to using a tangible

guests from neighbouring Rays Close,

and familiar structure as a radius for

they showcased their work with empathy,

further research, immediately enriched the girls understanding of the day to day effects of the conflict and helped them to contextualise information and apply

integrity and understanding. Poignantly, having developed a fresh understanding of their community’s history through studying the past, the girls received numerous

In February, local historian, Niall Creed,

emotionally intelligent responses to it.

visited the school to talk about Bedford

They were then able to consider the

compliments from the Ray’s close

in the 1940s. He explained how the town

experiences of refugees, as they faced

residents including one from an elderly

had become home to hundreds of refugees

separation from their families and an

gentleman who said: “I’ve learnt this

during the war. With the sudden influx of

uncertain future, with a greater sense of

afternoon that young people today are no

children, the town’s schools were unable

realism and emotion. From there, they

different from the way we were back then”.

07 | The Muse


Connected Community

Learning through giving Continuing our series profiling this year’s chosen House charities we feature the work of the Alzheimer’s Society (Franklin House) and Ormiston children’s charity (Hepburn House). Described by Prime Minister, David Cameron, as a “National Crisis”, dementia is thought to affect 670,000 people in the UK although estimates suggest approximately 400,000 people have the condition but are yet to be diagnosed. Over the next 10 years, the number of sufferers in the UK is expected to rise to one million, prompting the Government to launch what it calls a “National challenge on dementia”. The condition currently costs British society around £23bn a year, a figure expected to rise dramatically over the next decade as the population ages. Funding for research into dementia will more than double by 2015, reaching £66m, from £26.2m in 2010, making Britain a worldleader in the field. However, one of the principle organisations spearheading research and support, Franklin’s House Charity: the Alzheimer’s Society, is keen to point out that dementia does not mean people are not able to lead full, active lives and remain very much part of the community. Sarah Russell, Development Officer for the Alzheimer’s Society in Bedford, explained: “In addition to our commitment to undertaking research, we are also aware of the need to create a dementiafriendly society, one that recognises that people living with the condition still have plenty of knowledge to share and can fulfill really important roles within communities.

With more than 30 services supporting vulnerable children and families across the region, Ormiston is the biggest children’s charity in the East of England and works with children and families in a variety of settings including homes, schools and prisons. In Bedford, the charity undertakes therapeutic work with children and young people affected by the imprisonment of a parent or close relative. Explaining the complex emotions children may feel under such circumstances, Ormiston Support Worker, Angela Lawton said: “Children often begin their own silent sentence when a family member goes to prison. They may be grief-stricken by the separation and frightened about what might happen to the absent person. They may also feel shame and guilt or be angry and emotional. They may be worried about being bullied at school too.

“Our affiliation with Bedford Girls’ School is very much two way. As well as helping to fundraise for our work, the girls’ contribution to joint collaborations has been greatly appreciated by everyone they’ve met. Working alongside us also provides the perfect opportunity for the doctors, solicitors and researchers of tomorrow to learn about dementia and to understand the importance of ensuring people living with the condition remain valued, purposeful and appreciated within society”. In February 2012, 9MMW were delighted to welcome Ben Shorten and Peter Stileman to their History class. During a question and answer session, the gentlemen, who both care for wives living with dementia, offered the girls a firsthand account of life during World War II from a young person’s perspective. Well received and appreciated by the girls, the visit proved equally enlightening to their guests who commented that the insightful questions asked and the courtesy of the class had reassured their faith in young people and made them feel proud to have been invited.

“Working to alleviate some of this trauma not only has immediate positive effects but, with research showing that 63% of boys with a father in prison will end up offending in later life, intervention and help now could also help break an intergenerational cycle of criminality”. As the nominated charity of Hepburn House, Ormiston is in regular receipt of funds raised by pupils at Bedford Girls’ School. Close ties with the charity also help pupils develop empathy and understanding for people experiencing difficulties they may not previously have considered. It also encourages them to think compassionately about the hidden victims of offending behaviour. The Muse | 08


GIRLS RISE TO THE CHALLENGE While the benefits of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme are widely known, the unique challenges it offers within an all girls’ school adds a whole new dimension to the adventure. DofE Co-ordinator at Bedford Girls’ School, Joy Martin, explains:

T

he Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme is an adventure from start to finish. Everyone taking part enjoys a wealth of new experiences, learns new skills and discovers talents they didn’t even know they had. Using their own initiative and setting their own programme, girls are challenged from the moment they start working towards their bronze award and they rapidly develop confidence, fitness and mental agility as they progress through to their gold award. As girls, they aren’t able to regard the scheme simply as a physical challenge because, unlike boys, they don’t always have the strength to carry heavy loads on expeditions. From the outset, this means they have to be more savvy than their male counterparts and to think more strategically. Whereas an individual boy might be able to carry a tent, plenty of clothing and a considerable amount of food with them, girls have to plan and work together to meet the challenge and ensure they are properly equipped. Rather than carrying a one-person tent each, for example, what we tend to see is girls carrying a two person tent between them, sharing out their food supplies so they all bear an equal weight and making reasoned, detailed decisions about the clothing they take on expeditions well in advance of their departure date. Teamwork is vital to the girls’ success as is their ability to adapt and constantly reevaluate their response to the challenges

09 | The Muse

facing them. On their first practice expeditions, they soon learn how to condense their loads and spread the weight of their packs among a group. They are resourceful and employ clever strategies to help them get the very best outcomes from the experience. For example, a group of girls quickly worked out that, by cutting a camping towel in half, they were able to take both halves with them without significantly adding to their load. More so than for boys, the girls have to be resourceful and to assess their own performance on an ongoing basis as the nature of the challenge shifts and evolves. In essence, they have to be better than boys and work more cerebrally. However, their added efforts and more intelligent approach leads to better outcomes for them and the range of skills they acquire is broader and more significant. Their team working and communication skills flourish and grow and they learn to look at the nature of a team from different perspectives. Their appreciation of the differing qualities and skills each of them brings to the scheme develops and their ability to share ideas and learn from each other increases over time. At Bedford Girls’ School, peer-led learning plays a vital role in the Duke of Edniburgh’s Award Scheme, and the girls act as ambassadors and mentors as they progress through the three awards. When the Year 10 girls produce a presentation for their parents, highlighting all


they have benefitted from while undertaking

problem solvers and are able to respond

their bronze awards, the girls in Year 9

to matters more instinctively and their

are invited to attend to see if they would

empathy grows as they share the wealth of

like to take up the challenge themselves.

“ Exacting, testing

experiences the scheme offers.

but, ultimately,

the scheme, they are clearly enthused by

“Perhaps the biggest benefit of the scheme

the experience of a

the presentation and by the older girls’

is that it offers a challenge to everyone,

accounts of their experiences. Girls from

irrespective of their interests and where

lifetime, the Duke

the Sixth Form who have achieved their

they might see their core skills lying. Girls

of Edinburgh’s

gold awards, help out on expeditions and

who are very academic do use those

are generous in sharing their own skills and

skills within the scheme but they are also

Award Scheme challenges

knowledge with the younger girls both in the

challenged to try new things and to test

every aspect of every girl.

field and in the planning stages. As well as

areas of competency they perhaps didn’t

being of huge benefit to the younger girls,

Learning practical skills

even know they had. Similarly, girls who

this provides the Sixth Formers with skills

enjoy the physical challenge of sport are

for life is just one benefit of

With nearly 160 girls currently involved in

in training which can help enormously with applications for University and employment.

also encouraged to think laterally about

the programme which also

a broad range of issues and must test

encourages each individual

“With recent research demonstrating that

out their cerebral skills as well as pushing

time spent in the outdoors has a direct

themselves physically.

impact on mental well-being and academic performance, the Duke of Edinburgh’s

“The nature of the scheme, where girls

to work collectively as valuable team members and

choose their own programme, means it is

as well-rounded, mature,

girls’ performance in the classroom. A more

flexible and accommodating for everyone.

natural view of the world and becoming

On expeditions, the girls can choose to ride

responsible individuals.”

more reliant upon themselves and each

horses, canoe or to cycle instead of hiking

other, also helps the girls increase their

and for their bronze award they can even do

capacity for independent thinking. They

aerobics or yoga to make up the six hours

become more effective

of activity needed to gain the award.

Award Scheme does genuinely benefit

The Muse | 10


Emotional Themes Behind the Scenes In February 2012, Bedford Girls’ School staged a highly acclaimed production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s

E

verything about Rogers and

wealth of sympathetic characters make the

Hammerstein’s South Pacific

musical more than worthy of its stand-

bristles with a sense of

alone status as an uplifting celebration of

closeness and fragility.

US nostalgia, it is more than just a carefully

From the crackling humidity of the island

crafted series of vignettes on the time-old

heat to the fledgling relationships formed

variances of the sexes.

between the characters, intimacy is

South Pacific. As well

constantly overshadowed by a looming

Interspersed with comedy and wry upbeat

as showcasing the

atmosphere of impermanence.

songs, South Pacific opens an insightful

performing arts talents

The sultry weather brings with it an

of a young cast and crew, the production opened up opportunities for the girls to explore wider

undeviating implication of an imminent storm and the ties forged between friends and lovers appear as delicate as they are passionate. Like glistening gossamer webs in the pale dawn of an anxious post-war age, they hang at the mercy of the

window onto the lives of a group of disparate young people taking their first tentative steps into a brave new world. It also serves as a vehicle for its creators’ to express their own liberal consciences and to address racism and cultural difference from an entirely innocuous and widely acceptable stance.

issues and to successfully

elements and sway precariously in the

challenge their own

winds of change.

A challenging production for such a young

skill sets before the

Set in 1949, this tale of men and women

cast, South Pacific demands strong acting

finally unshackled from the long tyranny

and vocals from everyone in the cast. While

of World War II is as heartwarming as it is

the leads have several solos requiring strong

provocative. With a score as all-American

individual acting and vocal performances,

and wholesome as apple pie, the deeper

the ensemble pieces and often comedic

issues of South Pacific are sometimes

script test the abilities of all involved making

overlooked in favour of its sheer ability to

rehearsals for the show lengthy

entertain. While the joyous songs and a

and exacting.

curtain went up on the opening night.

11 | The Muse


Head of Drama and Dance, Sue Perren, said: “We began auditioning for South Pacific at the beginning of the Autumn Term and were overwhelmed by the response from the girls in our newly merged school. “In what we hope to be the first of many collaborations, we were joined by boys from Bedford School and the girls worked closely with them to ensure their performances were polished, precise and honed. “The cast are all in Years 8, 9 and 10, which is very young to be tackling such a complex production. Over the rehearsal period, their understanding of the more serious issues explored in the show gradually developed and we have been hugely impressed not just by their approach to learning the songs ands scenes but also by their growing sensitivity to a period of history many of them are yet to study.” Emily Tapp, as Ensign Nellie Forbush, brought the heroine’s frightened racism to the stage with great aplomb. Her portrayal of the naïve nurse from Little Rock perfectly captured the skittish, slightly ditsy pluckiness of the young woman embarking on a heady romance with French plantation owner, Emile de Becque. Her sensitive handling of the scene where Nellie struggles with the knowledge that de Becque’s children are half Polynesian ensured the nurse remained a sympathetic character despite her obvious flaws.

cautiousness. Even when singing about her new-found love for a “wonderful guy”, Emily gave Nellie an air of complexity not always ascribed to the character, helping to give the performance an overall air of reflection and seriousness as befits the more topical central themes Excellent comedic performances from Georgia Harris-Love, as Bloody Mary, and Elizabeth Webster, as Stewpot, were also underpinned by a note of serious contemplation, ensuring the characters were believable and well rounded. Olly Bowes, as Emile de Becque, also gave his character enough gravitas to convey his troubled past and hint at a darker subtext to the light-hearted, romantic moments he shares with Nellie. The sense of deeper meaning behind the façade of naïve optimism also translated into the set of the show. Simple, bright and perfectly evocative of the tropical setting and post-war period, the props, costumes and styling were deliberately understated. Never detracting from the emotive performances, the set helped to focus the

audience’s attention on the performers and encouraged the eye to look beyond the happy, heady joyousness of a blossoming romance. Sue Perren, said: “It was essential that everyone involved in South Pacific didn’t take the musical at face value. We wanted to convey to the audience the knowledge and understanding the girls had developed as we rehearsed. For us to communicate this effectively, it was important that this understanding extended beyond the cast to the technical crew as well, who were all girls who had volunteered to help with the production. “Working as Stage Managers and as Sound and Lighting crew, these girls came to appreciate and understand the complex themes at the heart of South Pacific just as much as the cast did. Many of them skilled performers themselves, they were able to learn new skills, giving them a holistic knowledge of working theatre, while simultaneously growing their own appreciation of the production’s liberal message and it’s historical significance.”

As well as bringing the character’s “cockeyed optimism” to life, Emily’s performance successfully conveyed the heroine’s apprehensive thrall to convention and

We have been hugely impressed not just by their approach to “learning the songs and scenes but also by their growing sensitivity

to a period of history many of them are yet to study.

The Muse | 12


Contextual Lives

Tricia Lennie English Teacher Paperback, hardback, eReader or audio book? All of them! I’m an obsessive reader and will read anything, anywhere. As an English teacher I want all my students to read too. Not just literary fiction either. I think reading is like an intellectual GPS system and it teaches you who you are in relation to everything else that has been thought or written. Read fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, magazines, blogs: anything that interests you. This is not time wasted: it is brain food. A book that changed our world Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones (1749) was arguably the first novel ever written. It’s hard to imagine what English lessons would be like if there were no novels.

A Place of My Own Carla Barberio

A book every English student should read The Surgeon of Crowthorne by Simon Winchester is a good page turner, like a thriller, but actually charts the process by which the very first Oxford English Dictionary was put together. Fact really is stranger than fiction.

I recall, as a seven year old, sitting in the main hall gazing in awe at the intricately decorated ceiling; hearing the glorious sound of the golden organ pipes echoing all around and feeling the penetrating gaze of every past Headmistress; their pictures compelling me to aim high Alta Petens the school’s motto. The ornate stone masonry, the stained glass window and the bell tower reigning in splendour above were equally enthralling as the interior. 13 | The Muse

Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party set in the 1970s. A poetry book to reverse an aversion to verse I’d advise starting with lyrics. Christopher Ricks, who was a professor of poetry at

A book I wish I had written A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo because it is so simple but so effective. The first person narrator is a Chinese girl, living in England, trying to learn English with Mrs Margaret and trying to adjust to the peculiar ways of doing things in this weird country of ours. Her grammatical struggles are hilarious and endearing! A book that always makes me laugh It’s hard to select just one as I love to laugh. I like quirky characters and writing styles such as Samuel Beckett’s Murphy, Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News or Marina Lewycka’s A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. Social satire is also a rich vein to tap into, from Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Towers which

Yet the buildings were by no stretch of the imagination perfect. The windows let in just as much cold air as light; the faces of Trinity’s gargoyles were perpetually chilling; and

When I was asked to write about a place that I found significant and inspirational, there was one place that came to mind above all others. A place, in which, during the last decade I have spent many happy hours. Steeped in heritage and tradition, its Victorian façade grand, imposing and undoubtedly beautiful - I am, of course, talking about the buildings of Bedford High School.

ruthlessly dissects 19thC clergy to plays like

the Victorian insulation did not retain much heat. Nonetheless, the good and bad quirks, along with the countless nooks and crannies, formed its character. Of course, I miss those buildings. But a building does not make a school. At BHSG, we were encouraged to apply the principles we learnt to our daily lives, to be “True Bedford High School Girls”. My short time at Bedford Girls’ School has taught me much, but perhaps the most prominent lesson has been the ability to value my heritage whilst embracing my future. So I will not forget those marvellous buildings and the effect that they had on me; but as I aim high and look to my future I will be Bold, Imaginative and Reflective and a “True Bedford Girls’ School Girl”.

University of Oxford, wrote enthusiastically about the lyrics of Bob Dylan and regarded them as every bit as profound as more traditional poetry. My favourite bookshop If I had to design heaven it would look very much like The Ceilidh Place, Ullapool. It is a hotel, café, art, theatre and music space in the Highlands of Scotland. I worked there the summer between leaving school and starting University and I met my husband Magnus there. We go back as often as we can. The bookshop is small but amazingly wellstocked and it is one of the few places on the planet where I don’t think, “So many books, so little time!”


Sports Report: Rowing

Rowing When Britain’s greatest Olympian, Sir Steve Redgrave, won his fifth gold medal at the Sydney 2000 games the nation developed an overwhelming admiration for the athletic prowess and determination of its rowers and a new generation of enthusiasts grew up wanting to try the sport.

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welve years on, rowing is still among the most popular sports in the UK and growing numbers of women are keen to take part. Perfectly located and equipped for rowing, Bedford Girls’ School is achieving increasing success on the water with girls attending national trials and competing at the highest level. Head of Rowing, Jacqui Round, explains the attraction and appeal of the sport. “Rowing is a uniquely challenging sport that offers incredible rewards and experiences to everyone who works hard to train and take part. At Bedford Girls’ School, we are fortunate to have 23 single sculls, 8 double sculls, 12 quads and 3 eights as well as a boathouse on the river which we share with Bedford School and Bedford Modern. We do both sweep and sculling disciplines and we row in singles, pairs, fours and eights and our range of boats ensure we can cater for any type and size of team within each of the different rowing styles. In the PE Department we have a Head of Rowing, an Assistant Head of Rowing and a number of part time coaches who are on hand to instruct and encourage the girls in training and in competition. All girls from Year 8 and upwards are invited to sign up for Rowing at the start of each term ensuring everyone has an opportunity to try this Olympic sport during their time at

the school. The best rowers tend to have long limbs so height is a definite advantage, but there are also openings for coxes who need to be small, weighing around 50 - 55kg.

the water, this helps everyone support

The rowers train more than girls involved in any other sport and, consequently, have an extremely high level of fitness. Girls in Years 11, 12 and 13 have ten training sessions a week spread over six days. Sundays are normally left free but the girls often compete at weekends so a full week’s commitment is not unusual. The Year 10 rowers train for six sessions a week over four days while Year 9 train for three sessions a week over three days. Pupils in Year 8 train two days a week for two sessions. The girls don’t take part in other sports because the Rowing season starts in September and doesn’t finish till early August, so they only have three weeks off each year.

and academic commitments collectively,

While this schedule is undeniably demanding, the advantages of rowing are numerous. On a personal level, enjoying such a high degree of fitness is liberating and empowering. Competing is an exhilarating experience and a marvellous confidence booster and the sense of achievement gained translates directly into success in other areas.

In just seven months the Bedford Girls’

Within school, a shared dedication to rowing leads to the establishment of very solid friendship groups. As well as guaranteeing excellent camaraderie and team spirit on

More than 90% of our rowers will go on to

and inspire each other in all aspects of school life. Training and studying together means the girls can schedule their sporting ensuring they are able to give their all to both areas. We are very well supported by the Friends of Bedford Girls’ School Rowing Club, a group of parents who give their time freely and generously to help and encourage the girls at competitions. The group raise funds by holding an annual ball and other social events throughout the year and have recently bought us a gazebo to take to competitions. When the girls are away at events, the group provide food and drinks helping to create a real family atmosphere as well as keeping everyone’s strength up.

School Rowing Club has created a strong team with a very promising future. So far this season we have achieved some outstanding results and are hoping to go on and win a medal at the National Schools’ Regatta in June. We have girls attending trials for the Junior Great Britain team and we have won medals at national events. row at university and we have athletes of such calibre they may well go on to represent Great Britain.” The Muse | 14


Living Legend

RICHARD EVANS “ Richard Evans’ book ‘In Defence of History’ could be judged sufficient reason to afford him legendary status. The book is a passionate challenge to the postmodernist theory that history is out of date and no longer useful and is a remarkable work. His Third Reich Trilogy is the most comprehensive history of the rise and fall of the Third Reich ever written by a single scholar making Evans a leading expert on German history. However, the area where I have the most respect for him is his role as an expert witness in the trial of David Irving. ” Kathy Cruse, Head of History from September 2012

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ontentious, challenging and notoriously critical of his colleagues, historian Richard Evans has garnered a global reputation as a passionate defender of his subject with a steadfast commitment to voicing his opinions.

Evans remained stalwart and defiant in the face of mounting frustration and provocation, intricately dismantling Irving’s reputation and credibility with hard and fast evidence resulting in the judge ruling conclusively in favour of Lipstadt and Penguin.

Often accused of arrogance and not always well liked, the Cambridge Don’s meticulous research and precise, engaging writing have won the respect of even his harshest critics. His refusal to pander to the popular vote imbues him with an air of bravery and insures he is no stranger to controversy and debate.

When asked to describe the experience of being cross-examined by Irving, Evans said: “He was a bit like a dim student who didn’t listen. If he didn’t get the answer he wanted, he just repeated the question”. As well as belittling the discredited historian, Evan’s retort is a reminder of his dedication to teaching History and a nod to an auspicious academic career.

As an Expert Witness for the defence in the libel trial of American historian Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books, in April 2000, he guaranteed his own place in the History books when his evidence directly led to the High Court labelling David Irving a falsifier of history and a holocaust denier. Despite Irving threatening to “tear him to shreds should he venture into the box”, Evans spent a total of 28 hours giving damning evidence in support of Lipstadt’s claim that Irving was an anti-Semite and a fascist who routinely twisted History “until it conformed with his ideological leanings and political agenda”.

In addition to his position of Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge, Evans is also President of Wolfson College and the Professor of Rhetoric at Gresham College. The author of more than 25 books, Evans is an internationally renowned expert on German history and is well known for his writings on the value and importance of History both as a subject and a social necessity. In 1999, Evans received both acclaim and criticism for his book In Defence of History. Rallying against post-modern theories declaring History to be a construct and an outmoded one at that,

Evans divided opinion by then asserting that other postmodern criticisms have been largely beneficial to the subject as a whole. Further criticism was levelled at him by fellow academics who felt he was unfairly negative about conservative historians while simultaneously advocating a conservative approach to the subject. In true fighting style Evans duly produced a detailed defence of the book, addressing each criticism at length. Evans’ refusal to be silent or to backdown when his theories are questioned and challenged is as central to his belief in the power of his subject as it is to his remarkable character. As he explains: “History is central to many things we do and think about and historians shouldn’t shut themselves away in the ivory towers of academe just talking to each other; we work on major aspects of life in the past and so we have a contribution to make to intellectual and public life in the present.   “I hope to get readers not just interested in and enthusiastic about the topics I write on but also to think about them critically, to realize the enormous richness and diversity of human experience, and by learning from the horrors and disasters of the past, to commit themselves to building a freer, more open and more democratic future.”


The Muse, Issue 2, Spring 2012