There is little doubt that 2020 was momentous. The pandemic acted as an accelerant for societal changes already in motion and forced educators to reconsider those pathways to health and happiness that we have relied on for so long. Schools and families are now thinking hard about how best to equip the next generation to best serve the demands of a post-Covid world.


The working landscape is shifting. Recruiters increasingly use contextual data to filter out candidates whose CVs have been inflated by privilege rather than ability. They care about what applicants did during their education and whether those experiences have equipped them to tackle global problems and the difficult questions that will define this next chapter of human history. It is vital that our pupils fully embrace and participate in the emergent system, justify their choices and provide evidence that they have made the most of the ample opportunities available to them. The International Baccalaureate is one of those opportunities; a chance for Bradfield’s pupils to differentiate themselves from the competition, to look upwards and outwards as global citizens. Designed and continuously adapted by educators across 157 countries, the Diploma presents the pupil with an internationally acclaimed pre-university programme of skill development and champions an approach to learning that is aligned with the needs of the global economy.


In mere months we have transitioned to learn and work virtually and across vast distances which presents opportunities as well as threats. Artificial Intelligence, big tech and big data are rewriting the rules of business, disrupting traditional white-collar roles even more aggressively than the blue-collar tumult of the offshoring decades. The powerful protests during the summer of 2020 have forced us all to consider ways in which we might de-colonise our curriculum but the truth is that our pupils’ futures are nothing close to imperial and haven’t been for some time. This pandemic has illustrated, beautifully and tragically, that the world needs problem solvers who can collaborate across both international borders and academic disciplines. If our pupils can do that, they will thrive.

How do we prevent the next pandemic? How can we reverse the loss of our planet’s biodiversity and prevent the impact of climate change? What will replace plastic? How do we deal with the impending mass unemployment of technological advance? How do we improve our mental health? How do we prevent radicalisation? How do we sustain an ageing population? Is parliamentary democracy sustainable? How can social media be harnessed to maximise societal benefit? What will succeed capitalism? How do we avoid a post-truth world?

To win a place in these conversations, our pupils will need to be insatiable in their inquiry, with a powerful work ethic and an open mind. They may need to jump between time zones, languages, quantitative and qualitative sources. They will have to think scientifically, but also understand the subtle realities of human behaviour. They will need to communicate, challenge ideas and have their own ideas challenged. The global fight against the pandemic needs people like this and it is this group, undefined by background, location, colour or creed, that will emerge as the heroes of this darkest of hours.


On the face of it the IB Diploma looks like more subjects; six rather than the three typically followed by A Level candidates. However, there is far more to it than that. Embracing the qualification means continuing a breadth of study across Maths, Literature, Languages, Science, Humanities and the Arts, whilst encouraging pupils to explore greater depth in their chosen Higher Level subjects. The curriculum is bound together by the excellent Theory of Knowledge, an examination of how academic inquiry and intellectual culture combine to acquire and validate knowledge, something which an explosive blend of populism and social media has propelled to a position of critical importance.

The IB Diploma is a tremendous opportunity for our young people to join a group of global game-changers and minimise their chance of being marginalised by this great paradigm shift. 2020 will be recorded as momentous not because of the pandemic but because of what the pandemic has revealed about our future; uncertain yes, exciting undoubtedly. It is a chance for this generation of pupils to leave a legacy of global significance.