Apartheid experiences

By Annabel Smith, Head of Global Awareness

Last Thursday Lele Jones visited 6.1 historians to talk to them about her experience of growing up in South Africa under apartheid. It was an extraordinary privilege to hear first-hand about her family’s history in Sophiatown, and then, after their forced removal, in Soweto. Witness to both the outrages of daily life and such turning points as the uprising of Soweto school children in 1976 and the death of Steve Biko, Lele’s memories brought home the reality of a situation that’s often very hard for outsiders to understand.

Lele brought her pass with her for us to see – one of the hated passes that triggered the Sharpeville massacre and tyrannised the lives of millions of black South Africans. She also showed us her ‘Homelands’ travel document which was issued by the apartheid government in place of a South African passport, but this was not recognised by the international community, thus making foreign travel very difficult.

Perhaps the most important journey she ever made was to Botswana, to marry Bedales Maths teacher, Martin Jones. Because their marriage was illegal in South Africa, and different races were segregated into separate urban areas, they soon moved to England. Lele told of her panic on finding herself on the same bus as white people, forgetting momentarily that this was not illegal here. Because of stories such as this – powerfully bringing to life the words of the A level text books – and Lele’s quietly fierce appeal to never be bystanders in the face of injustice, we are already looking forward to her coming back to visit us again. Next time she is going to sing!

Click on the image below to read a news article published in The News, 1990:


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Global Awareness Lecture held at Bedales


Bedales School’s annual Global Awareness Lecture was held last week and focused on the role of journalism in promoting in-depth engagement with global issues through innovative reporting and education.

Jon Sawyer, veteran foreign correspondent and director of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in Washington DC, US, spoke passionately to the audience of students and parents about falling standards and freedom of speech.

After decades in the field, reporting from around 60 countries, he founded the non-profit Pulitzer Center to support independent reporting from around the world and to work with schools

His work has been honoured by investigative reporters and editors, the Overseas Press Club, the Inter-American Press Association, and the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Jon was selected three years in a row for the National Press Club’s prize for best foreign reporting.

Head of Global Awareness at Bedales, Annabel Smith said: “Before the lecture, Jon met with five groups of students of all ages and talked about a range of global issues from the Middle East to water rights, the upcoming US election and the future of journalism. He also spoke at length to a number of students with a special interest in print, video and photo-journalism and it was a real benefit for our students to have such one-to-one expert guidance.”

Annabel added: “Jon represents the very best traditions of reporting from the darkest corners of the world. He not only spent decades in the field, but through creating the Pulitzer Centre also ensured that a new global generation of journalists can continue this work.”

The Global Awareness team’s plea for help…

Christmas box

Approximately 3 million Syrians have been forced out of their country with a further 6.5 million having to leave their homes for alternative protection. The phrase ‘no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than land‘ reflects the situation of the thousands of people stranded in Calais as you are reading now. We feel it is our responsibility as a comfortable community to give what aid we can, in any manner possible.The Global Awareness committee, formed of students from every year, have developed two immediate opportunities for assistance and we would very much appreciate your help. In the next half term there will be a period in which we will collect any material donations for the Syrian refugees that will then be delivered to both Syria and Calais through student-organised initiatives.

After half term our aim is create a collection of decorated shoeboxes full of a certain items which we will give to an organisation called Samaritan’s Purse who are running a campaign entitled ‘Operation Christmas Child’. Samaritan’s Purse is a religious organisation and we can guarantee that it gives ‘aid and assistance without regard to the race, creed, gender, religion or ethnicity of the beneficiaries.’ We feel that this is important to highlight. This is a link to possible items that could be featured in the boxes:


This includes things such as school supplies, hygiene items and toys. We would also like to ask for items of a certain level of quality. If possible please pack them over half term and bring them into school before the 15th of November. The more boxes we can get the better and if you’d like any more information please visit the website.

Additionally, a further chance to help the refugees will arise. An organisation, called Aid Convoy, have been gathering items and shipping them out directly to Syria. They are interested in clothes, tinned food, blankets, kitchen equipment, as well as other things that are on a list here. The weather will be turning soon, and spending December and January in a tent will be horrendous, so it is crucial that we do as much as we can as quickly as we can. Aid Convoy is an international humanitarian conglomerate, that is ‘committed to assisting victims of disasters and wars’. All of the supplies will be gathered into a 40 foot long container, with one having been dispatched recently (3 Oct.) As a large group of young people it is essential that we are living in awareness of the world around us, engaging, and trying to do what we can to improve it. If we remain dormant whilst those around us scream, as a generation that will soon be steering society’s moral perspective, we will be failing in doing what’s right.


By Godelieve de Bree, 6.1 and the Global Awareness team

Engaging lecture by North Korean defector

DSC_0020Last Thursday, the Bedales community was fortunate enough to have a Global Awareness lunchtime lecture from Young-il Kim, a North Korean defector who founded an organisation called PSCORE (People for Successful COrean Reunification). Their mission is to promote the successful reunification of the Korean peninsula and to improve the human rights situation in North Korea. Young-il painted a picture of a regime that is highly oppressive, where the majority of the public do not have basic human rights, freedom or adequate nutrition. We were informed that despite there being food stores, these were often a front and the majority of the ‘food’ inside was fake – as shown in the recent film ‘The Interview.’ Young-il spoke of his own experiences in the army, where many of his friends starved to death, and of his efforts to escape North Korea. He finally achieved this by lying on the roof of a train, only inches from the overhead power lines, for over 16 hours. Then followed years of living in fear and uncertainty in China, until at last he could reach South Korea and gain asylum.

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Young-il’s anecdotes were exceptionally engaging, chilling and in some cases alarming. Some students were lucky enough to have their questions about the circumstances in North Korea answered, and any who could stayed on when afternoon lessons started, reluctant to miss such a rare opportunity to hear first-hand accounts from such a secretive country.


We all wished Young-il and PSCORE luck as they took their case to Geneva this week, and the UK Parliament next week.


By Godelieve de Bree, Block 5

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.

Badley Celebration Weekend round up


This year’s Badley Celebration Weekend was one of the busiest to date, with over 30 different activities taking place over the two days. Students experienced a diverse range of workshops categorised into the following areas: language and skills; art, culture and cooking; music and movement; global awareness. As part of the Whole School Effort, each tutor group planted hazel trees and bluebells on the banks near the tennis courts, as well as helping to fence off an area for a chicken coop – the aim is to reintroduce chickens to Bedales early in the New Year. Sixth formers also worked hard on their own project – clearing overgrowth and creating space for a seating area with fire-pits near the large pond, to provide a space for supervised study groups.

As this year’s weekend had a global awareness theme, we were enormously privileged to be joined by four external speakers who brought the world to Bedales, just for a couple of days. Katie Millward spoke about her work as a journalist with the environmental agency Ecostorm, and as a grantee of the Pulitzer Centre for Crisis Reporting. James Askew, a member of the British Army who has served in the Congo, spoke about Child Soldiers in the Congo. Robin Gorna, a current Bedales parent and HIV/AIDS specialist, spoke about whether AIDS is still a global problem. Finally David Retter, head of educational inclusion services for Hampshire, spoke about the elsewhere right here – the shocking stories of young people on our doorsteps. As a Badley first, we also had five student-led sessions, on subjects as diverse as the Ebola crisis and the ethics of meat-eating.

One of the workshops over the weekend included a Communications Hub, which directed students to go out and capture as much coverage of different projects and workshops as possible, by filming interviews, taking photos and writing blogs.

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.