Portland Place school headteacher David Bradbury goes under the spotlight
- Credit: Archant
Portland Place school headteacher David Bradbury...
Please can you go into your background in teaching prior to starting at Portland Place?
I qualified to teach science, specialising in physics. Initially I worked in the maintained sector at a large comprehensive in Staffordshire. I then worked in Bangkok for three years at a British international school. Returning to England I went to another large comprehensive, and then to be head of science at a high school back in Staffordshire. 2010 was a big change, moving to London and into the independent sector to become deputy head academic at South Hampstead High School. I was there for seven years, before joining Portland Place School in April 2017.
What attracted you to the job?
I have experienced a variety of schools during my career. When the time came to look towards a headship, I realised that I wanted to become headmaster in a different type of school: one that cultivates individuality and looks at pupils as individuals full of potential to be developed. As soon as I saw Portland Place, I knew that was the right kind of school for me. The challenge of leading a school as distinctive, in so many ways, as Portland Place is a privilege and I have appreciated the warmth and friendliness of everyone here who have all been very welcoming and supportive. And, after seven (happy) years in an all-girls school, it is great to be in a co-educational environment again.
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What makes Portland Place unique as a school?
Portland Place was founded as an alternative to the large, academically selective independent day schools of which there are many in London. Part of our ethos is to be small, be nurturing and be relaxed. We don’t demand academic excellence, but we do encourage and enable our pupils to achieve their very best academically. We give them time and space to develop and express their creativity and athleticism. We empower our pupils to better understand, and celebrate, their differences. We make the most of a privileged position in the centre of one of the world’s great cities. We always seek to offer the best education for our pupils and always in the context of each pupil as an individual who has individual strengths and needs. I think we are very successful in this, one indicator being our 2016 A-level results. The value added measure on them put us in the top 3 per cent of all schools in the country.
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What are your main aims as headteacher?
To reaffirm Portland Place’s ethos and those aspects that make it unique while keeping the school at the forefront of education practice. Education is a very dynamic area to work in with new challenges every year and navigating those while holding the school true to its aims and ethos is a large part of my role. For example, one focus for next year will be developing pupil use of tablets in the classroom. These are powerful devices that have huge potential in education as a tool for pupils to use but one which we have to educate pupils to use responsibly.
What have been your proudest moments as headteacher so far?
Surviving an unannounced compliance inspection four weeks into the job! It showed me my senior team really are that, a team, and they were all on top of their briefs. The way the whole school came together was heartening. Our celebration day was a wonderful afternoon that really brought alive the wide range of talents our pupils have: one pupil has had two professional acting roles this year; another debuted for Millwall Ladies 1st team and has represented England at U18 level for football; one of our EPQ students produced her own illustrated children’s historical book. The quality of the arts at Portland Place School impresses you immediately and I very much enjoyed our summer concert and art exhibition.
What do you like most about working in Westminster?
I work right in the centre of London with all that has to offer. The school is next to Regent’s Part and a short walk from The Wigmore Hall, the British Museum, the Wellcome Collection and all theatres in the West End. As a school, we make great use of the theatres and museums in London, for instance, we use RADA studios as the venue for many of our school performances.
What aspects of the next academic term are you most looking forward to?
I started at Easter, an unusual time to move schools, so I am really looking forward to starting a new academic year in post. In a hectic summer term I believe I have set out my stall as to the direction I want to take the school in; now to put it into practice. Starting at Easter also means our incoming sixth form I have hardly met, they spent much of the last term on study leave, so I am looking forward to getting to know my senior students. Also, next year will be Portland Place School’s 21st anniversary; there will be much to celebrate but it will also be a good time for refreshing things as well.
David Bradbury, headteacher of Portland Place School