‘Let your body, mind and spirit run’…

This was the theme for 2017’s Biennual Amesbury Festival. Children and parents can excite and broaden their souls and minds with an extravaganza of campfires and wigwams, drama, music and poetry, a circus, forensic science, particle accelerators and planetarium. The Amesbury Festival takes place over a week every 2 years. The schools normal timetable is suspended for a week of ambitious and extra-curricular learning that is unashamedly educational for teachers and parents as well as pupils.


Amesbury Festival 2017:

During the festival week Year 1 and 2 had their own mini Glastonbury base complete with wigwams where they investigated and experienced a multitude of events, sometimes with Reception. The Chapel Choir gave a performance of their forthcoming Tour repertoire. We welcomed a visiting poet, a planetarium (and particle accelerator), held a slam poetry competition, involved pupils in lots of team building events – which on the final day involved the entire preparatory school being out on the fields at the same time working in collaborative harmony! We held our annual swimming gala, drama workshops – ‘A Spring Festival’ (Reception – Year 2) and ‘Lullaby of Broadway’ (Year 7), a Mock court and inter-school matches. In addition to which they investigated artificial intelligence, cyborgs and nanotechnology.

We listened to what Russell Cowburn has to say, in the knowledge that we may well be listening to a future Nobel Prize winner, and to what Peter Cochrane had to say on Artificial Intelligence etc. It did not matter that sons or daughters were in Year 3, we watched Year 7, and their Lullaby of Broadway performances anyway. We were involved and wrapped up in a bubble of learning and new experiences that stimulated and broadened our thinking.


Some of our guest speakers included:

  • Tom Price Associate Tutor at Oxford University talked about cyborgs, AI, and the latest predictions on transhumanism and what it will mean to be human in the not too distant future as humanity merges with machines.


  • Professor Russell Cowburn FRS Director of Research – The Cavendish Laboratory – Cambridge University occupies a unique place in Physics. Professror Cowburn is one of the world’s leading nanotechnologists, his work is like true science fiction except it’s actually happening in reality.


  • Mark Milliken Smith QC presided over a mock court with pupils between Years 6 – 8 selected prior to the proceedings to be the main protagonists and the jury selected from the audience on the night.


  • John Kingston, Harlequins’ RFC Director of Rugby is the most experienced rugby coach in the rugby premiership having been appointed coach to Richmond RFC at the dawn of the professional era. He gave us an insight into the use of medicine and technology in the professional sporting environment.


  • Professor Peter Cochrane OBE gave a presentation on Artificial Intelligence and what it will mean for us all over the next couple of decades.

A brilliant thought provoking week. Every day has included a very interesting car journey discussion. Who would have thought particle physics could be such a fascinating topic on a Tuesday morning school run?


We've been amazed at the diversity and quality of the speakers. I think we'd forgotten what pure joy there is in learning. Our children have absolutely loved it too - I suspect it's a week which will stay with them forever.


Where now?