Jaw on Freedom

In the context of the centenary of the outbreak of WWI and Remembrance Day last month, the students and I reflected on the nature of freedom at Jaw on 19 November.

Jaw fell the day before the anniversary of the death of General Franco, Spain’s Fascist Dictator from 1939-1975, and so we considered Spain’s experience of apparent peace and stability during his regime. Spain had suffered for 200 years with internal and external unrest and so the stability was welcomed by many but it came at high price of loss of freedom for most. Half a million Spaniards died during the three year Civil War, started by Franco and his supporters in 1936, and millions became exiles or refugees during and after the war. Tens of thousands were killed or imprisoned for their opposition to Franco’s government. Some historians believe that the lack of support for the Spanish government shown by other European states, in contrast with the planes and soldiers sent by Hitler and Mussolini to aid Franco’s efforts, facilitated the start of WW2.

As well as highlighting the fact that so many live with their freedoms restricted, we celebrated the work and success of many in seeking freedom and equality for all. We listened to Nelson Mandela’s speech at the start of his trial in 1964, after which he was imprisoned for 26 years, and to Martin Luther King’s last public speech before his murder in 1968.

The Jaw was an opportunity for Clare Denning, Naveed Khalessi and Sofia Palm to highlight some current campaigns and successes by Amnesty, a non-government organisation whose campaigns are supported by a number of Bedales students. We ended with a reading of Vuelta de Paseo by Chloe Polkinghorne, Fernanda Verdon-Roe and Robyn Whittaker. Return from a walk was written by Federico García Lorca, Spain’s most famous poet and playwright, who was one of the first victims of the Spanish Civil War.

By Louise Wilson, Managing Head


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

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