Students Get A Headstart

EDT (The Engineering Development Trust) delivers over 30,000 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) experiences each year, for young people aged 11-21 across the UK.

EDT’s Headstart and Inspire courses Years 11-Upper Sixth students with the chance to sample higher education life – by both experiencing STEM courses at a university setting.

Ciara Blackham (Upper Sixth) and Emilia Corvesor (Lower Sixth) reflect on their recent Headstart and Inspire adventures here.

Ciara Blackham, Broadbased Engineering, Oxford University

My Headstart course was held at Oxford, and it gave me great a feel for the university, which I’ve now decided to apply at.

On the course we built robots, delivered a presentation and went on trips to Formula 1 racing, a nuclear fusion plant and Sharp Electronics.

It was great to try different types of engineering like biomedical, make bridges and test their strength and learn programming skills.

In addition, we had lots of talks on university experience and engineering career possibilities, spoke to students at Oxford University studying various degrees and there were small design task competitions.

We also met new people and made lots of friends and had free time in the evening to go into town.

I recommend the Headstart course to everyone. I wasn’t interested in studying engineering but I still loved my experience. I met so many new people and really got a feel for Oxford and what university life is like.

I also learnt a lot of valuable skills such as presenting and computer programming. So whether you definitely want to do engineering at university, are unsure about what course to study or want to know what life at university is like, I highly recommend Headstart.

Emilia Corvesor, Queen Mary University of London, Science

I chose a course specifically in Science as this is an area that has always interested me.

Over the three days, we engaged in different experiments and practicals and were also assigned group projects to research and prepare presentations on, ready for competition time on the last day.

Most importantly for me, we were able to meet and talk to different students currently at the university, which was very beneficial as I was in the middle of deciding my A Level choices.

Overall, the Inspire course allowed me to mix with like-minded girls and have a very enjoyable three days.

‘Engage and celebrate the youth!’

By Kate Long, Upper Sixth

Home to principal European Union institutions including the Council of the European Union, European Commission and European Parliament, Brussels is a central hub for international politics. For two days in half term, it was also home to me.

My purpose for visiting Brussels was to explore the European Parliament and its response to humanitarian issues such as the current refugee crisis. This was made possible by the Mary Greaves Hamilton Legacy prize fund.

With a 6am start and a two hour train journey, I arrived in Brussels ready for a day immersing myself in the world of European politics. After the old-world style of Brussels with its gabled houses and cobbled stones, reaching the contemporary architecture of the Parliament zone physically signalled the move into modern integrated Europe.

The centrepiece of the Parliament buildings is an outside Agora based on the Greek marketplace – although being a cold wet October morning, there was no hustle and bustle! Around the Agora are the words and pictures of the European Year of Development campaign – a very inspiring visual welcome.

I started at the Parliamentarium – a state of the art visitor centre – to gain a foundation for my knowledge on European integration. After going through the airport style security and receiving an audio-guide (which was of course available in all 24 official languages of the EU – I boringly rejected Finnish and Greek in favour of English!) I began exploring the two-story exhibition space. The tour started with 3D models of the three locations of the European Parliament – Strasbourg, Brussels and Luxembourg. Slides and old photos led me through Europe’s long and often troubled modern history and the beginnings of the European community, with audio quotes from the EU’s early visionaries such as Robert Schuman.

Next, a tunnel of voices immersed me in the multilingual heritage of the EU, and moveable information pods rolled me across a map of Europe and allowed me to explore the European Parliament’s broad reach across all its 28 member states, including the space station in French Guiana and the Department of Justice and Equality in Dublin.

A 360-degree digital surround screen took me into the heart of European Parliament action. Sitting in seats in a semi-circle, it felt like I was participating in the debate. There across multi mega-screens I learnt about the members of parliament, and how the legislative process works in practice. To be honest, for me the process of arriving at consensus seemed extremely laborious, and bureaucratic, with endless to-ing and fro-ing between the various political alliances, arguing over words and phrases.

The Parliamentarium ended with the fun opportunity to write a personal message or wish to the Parliament which then appeared on the screens with your name and in your language. It felt very empowering to see “Engage and celebrate the youth! – Kate, England” scrolling round the room in very large letters.

I hen headed over into the actual Parliament building where I particularly liked the sculpture called Confluence symbolising the intertwining of different strands from different origins coming together for a common goal reflecting the integration the European Parliament provides.

Then on to the Hemicycle where the MEPS sit to debate EU law. One aspect which particularly intrigued (and surprised me) was that the MEPs are not grouped by country but by political affiliations. Thus my own MEP  sits (and votes)with the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group, alongside fellow left leaning politicians from France, Malta and Czech Republic, and not next to his fellow Brit from the Tory party. This for me was a powerful symbol of commitment to the de-emphasing of national loyalty in favour of an overriding common purpose for Europe.

I then made the short walk (in the rain!) to the Brussels offices of World Vision International, the world’s largest aid and development charity focused on children. Here I interviewed two Advocacy Policy Officers, Alexandra and Ludo, on the role of charities in Advocacy within the European Union. Their passion and energy for their work meant we covered a vast array of topics, including the effectiveness of the parliament’s party system – they too recognised the slowness of the process but felt this ensured real consensus – the effect of the migrant crisis on the reputation of the EU, methods of advocacy, and whether the concept of integration is compatible with the current European identity. What was interesting here was how important agendas can be influenced by lobby groups, especially given the wide range of topics MEPs have to have a view on.  It was also great to gain insights into working in the NGO field as a career.

After all that talking and thinking, I explored (still in the rain!)  the rest of the city, including the Grand Palace, the city’s famous market square which dates back to the Middle Ages, and its spectacular Gothic and Baroque buildings and quant guildhalls. Waffles, chocolate and the famous Belgian frites rounded off a genuinely fascinating.

‘We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life’.

Inspired by the study of Marina Keegan in her IB Standard Level classes, Alice Frost reflects on Keegan’s work below. 

The Opposite of Loneliness is a collection of short stories and essays, written by Marina Keegan, who was a graduate of Yale University, and she wrote about a great variety of subjects, in particular, she explored and captured the life and hope of a young person of her generation.

The Opposite of Loneliness, which was penned for the Yale Daily News, particularly inspired many members of our class. Keegan speaks about concepts of possibility, youth, ambition but also uncertainty and the struggles that her and others in her generation face ahead of them.

A great focus in The Opposite of Loneliness is the concept of time and youth and their association with possibility, for instance where she wrote: “The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating from college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.’

These few lines encapsulate Keegan’s inspirational thoughts about overcoming the pressures that the youth of this generation face; the seemingly inevitable unemployment, the inability to ‘succeed’ and even the fear of what comes next. She reminds us that, despite the intimidating future that we have ahead of us, there are also countless opportunities, offering us time to pursue the careers and lifestyles that we have aspired to in all of our youthful years.

Keegan also demonstrates her talent in her fictional writing, with short stories on subjects ranging from the jealousy within young relationships, the experiences of a young man surrounded by war, and even the life of people trapped thousands of feet beneath the sea-surface, unsure of whether they will see light again.

Within these short stories and essays you are able to see Keegan’s emotional honesty and intelligence, her drive and determination and her demonstration of resilience. Unfortunately, her writing is tinged with tragedy, following her death, just five days after her graduation.

You can read her work here:

Women in Accounting – An Actual Practice More Than a Concept?

Simran Garewal (Upper Sixth) responds to Accounting Today’s recent article on how women’s opportunities in accounting and finance have improved over the past 10 years

It comes as no surprise that when researching inspiring female accountants, the options were despairingly sparse, almost definitely leaving me extremely demotivated for the career path I had chosen.

Thankfully – and very luckily – I came across a mini article on the Accounting Today news blog that rekindled my faith in a possible success.

The piece reports on claims that the opportunities for female professionals had increased in the past 10 years, according to 42% of CFOs surveyed by the staffing company Robert Half.

Now, 42%, one might say, is not an amazingly large number; and maybe even a slight contradiction to the proclaimed ’great strides’ companies are apparently taking.

And yet, one cannot deny the fact that this issue is being heavily discussed, debated and recognised is a miracle in itself. Where, 10 years ago, the concept of a qualified female accountant was possibly a joke shared by friends over drinks, nowadays it’s almost a battle call. Women are being encouraged and inspired to pursue a career in what is sadly still a male dominated employment sector.

What is more inspiring yet is that senior executive, Paul McDonald, feels that there is more to be done to ensure that women are rising through the ranks at the same pace as their male counterparts. The existence of the AFWA (Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance), for example, fills me with hope and excitement to enter this line of employment, knowing that there is a body of people supporting me.

There used to be a time when women were scared of crossing ‘the glass ceiling’, afraid of compromising their lives and of discrimination. But times are changing, and it will be a wonderful relief to watch as we shatter this oppressive barrier together.

Students Sample University Life

EDT (The Engineering Development Trust) delivers over 30,000 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) experiences each year, for young people aged 11-21 across the UK.

EDT’s Headstart courses provide Lower Sixth students with the chance to sample higher education life – by both experiencing STEM courses at a university setting.

Eleanor Webber and Sarah Staker reflect on their recent Headstart adventures here.

Eleanor Webber

My course was on Marine Biology and Oceanography at the University of Southampton.

The course was run by a leading Oceanographer, Dr Simon Boxall, along with some current students undertaking BSc, MSc and PhD degrees.

We were lucky enough to spend two days on the University’s research boat, traveling up and down the Solent.

On the first day we explored the various techniques for collecting data, and on the second day, in groups, we collected and shared data to produce a complete set of data across six points through the Solent.

The rest of the week was spent in labs and ICT, analysing and presenting the data collected, ready to be shown to parents on the last day.

Over the week I learnt to identify many types of phytoplankton and zooplankton.

From doing the course I have discovered that pure Oceanography isn’t the best route for myself, but it has shown me other options which still allow me to cover very similar topics.

I enjoyed the course a lot and would highly recommend it.

Sarah Staker

Completing the Headstart course is not only a good way to find out what university degrees entail, but it also gives you good experience of university life because you stay in the accommodation.

Headstart courses are also a good deciding factor of which university to select because they go into more detail than a university website ever can.

Headstart also allows you to interact with new people and work together, which is a key skill in life, but you also gain some long lasting friends.

New Front Door

By Dr Walters, Director of Sixth Form

At 280 Westbourne Park Road, London there is a blue door that acquired fame in the 1999 romantic comedy, Notting Hill. It drew so much attention from fans of the film that the owners of the flat eventually put the door up for auction and hung in its place a less memorable black one.

Of all the black front doors in Britain the most notable must surely be the one at 10 Downing Street. It opens only from the inside and is synonymous with the Prime Ministerial qualities – power and responsibility.

Bedford Girls’ School’s Sixth Form House has its own new front door. On Thursday 3rd September the Sixth Form girls commenced the new academic year by entering the school via the newly-restored original entrance to Dame Alice Harpur House. This improvement is part of a larger refurbishment made possible by the generous support of the Bedford High School Guild.


And improvement it is. Previously, girls would make a sharp left when arriving at school and start their school day halfway up the locker corridor. Girls now climb the wide stone steps and enter a light and inviting hallway that takes them straight to heart of the house, with the Careers library and Chequers café ahead, and study loft above.

Feng shui suggests that a good front door makes for an auspicious start. And a light entrance hall within is doubly auspicious. Most of all I hope the new door makes a statement, and fosters in the girls a new sense of ownership in her environment and learning.