Introduction

Almost everything we do at Bradfield contributes to the ‘Education for Life’ that we aim to feed and nurture. Perhaps ‘almost’ is unnecessarily conservative: everything that we offer, introduce and inculcate provides experience and learning that our pupils will use and reflect on later in their personal and professional lives. Much of the experience will come from the boarding house, from the stage, the sports field, Chapel and, of course, pupils’ time in the classroom.

"The pupils’ achievements and learning are excellent by the time they leave the College due to the wide-ranging opportunities provided for them by an excellent curriculum."
2015 ISI Inspection Report

Our curriculum, rightly, continues to evolve. The world of work is not as it once was: ‘a life of careers as opposed to a career for life’ is clichéd but almost certainly the future on the near horizon. As such, not only does our subject offering have to change – Coding and Programming, Entrepreneurship and Psychology to name but three new additions – but also how we teach. The ‘how’ is the exciting bit, and also the most important.

Bradfield’s Attitude to Learning curriculum asks our pupils to Think Creatively, Help Yourself, Reflect and Respond and Review. Strip away almost all of the facts and knowledge squeezed into today’s exam courses and many will appreciate the four tenets of our curriculum as fundamental to almost every walk of life. Einstein puts it best; “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

Think Creatively

For Think Creatively think innovate; for innovate, think challenging the existing paradigm. As we navigate through the digital revolution, the premium on creativity will only increase. With every Google search we make Artificial Intelligence (AI) improves and becomes more sophisticated. As is happening now, AI will become increasingly ubiquitous and powerful and displace the human workforce from most jobs in areas that are systematic and predictable. And so the ability to think differently and to deal in the intangible and unquantifiable – the essence of what makes us human - will increasingly tend from the desirable to the essential.

Help Yourself

Albeit ‘developing resilience’ is something of a soundbite at the moment it must make up some part of what we do in schools. Part of me, however, prefers ‘stickability’ as it means more to the pupils and resonates more strongly with Help Yourself. Life outside the school walls will often boil down to making the most of opportunities and dealing with challenges. We are regularly forced to draw on our self-reliance and to use the resources and people around us, not simply to cope but to thrive regardless of what stands in front of us. Thomas Edison famously failed 10,000 times before inventing the lightbulb. Mozart lost his hearing whilst composing one of the great symphonies of all time but thought to saw the legs of his piano so that he could feel the vibration of each note against his thighs. Stickability at its most inspiring.

Reflect and Respond

Increasingly, throughout all aspects of Bradfield, the College looks to create an environment where initial failure and mistakes are seen good things; learning in its purest sense. World renowned educationalist Professor Guy Glaxton champions the idea of “floundering intelligently”. A brilliant and laudable aspiration for any education. The idea focusses on pupils doing things they can’t quite do yet but developing the ability to use their own skills and those of others, along with the resource available to them and prior learning to work through or around situations. It is also rooted in the third tenet of Bradfield’s curriculum – Reflect and Respond.

The College is highly successful in developing the all-round ability of the pupils within its care and nurturing their natural talents. Teachers demonstrate enthusiasm for their particular disciplines and foster interest and subject understanding.
2015 ISI Inspection Report

There is a strong correlation between the quality of the response and the quality of the reflection and feedback. In the past two years, Bradfield has restructured and refocussed its departmental marking policies, approach to tutoring and its entire reporting system with the aim of providing high quality, specific, individualised feedback to each and every pupil. This has the single greatest impact on progress according to another eminent educationalist, Professor John Hattie, albeit we see this sort of thing all the time. Elite sport is an excellent example.

Review

To Review means to consider ways that a piece of work, a project, one’s match fitness, a piano recital can be taken to the next level. The aspiration here is, ‘be the best it can be’, a mindset that only really matures through the conversations that teachers and tutors have with individuals. To my mind, it is the most nuanced of the four Attitude to Learning elements. It requires both implicit and explicit nurturing; the sort of thing that will quietly take root and blossom here at Bradfield and beyond.

Focussing on attitude and character are, we believe, more important than outcome. Qualifications are a business we take very seriously but they are not the College’s raison d’etre. Why? Because Einstein was right. Fulfilment in our professional and private lives is not a function of what we know but how we think and work with others.

Neil Burch, Deputy Head (Academic)