Ours is a stunning natural setting where the gentle rhythms of the British countryside are reflected in the slow running waters of the River Pang. The setting is not, however, just a beautiful backdrop to Bradfield’s education but an intrinsic part of the learning experience.
Bradfield is indeed a rural idyll, but it is also a fertile platform.
The same is true of the College buildings, characterised by the long, low range round Quad, with its welcoming arms of warm red brick, steely flint and trusty oak. Bradfield is a kind place.
In recent years, a contemporary edge has been added to this timeless setting with modern facilities installed within the old buildings or in sympathetic new additions, which have not eroded the spirit of place. Likewise, the curriculum has broadened to encompass a range of subjects our founders would never have envisaged.
The International Baccalaureate offers a global education in a very British setting whilst myriad co-curricular opportunities simultaneously offer great fun and an ‘education for life’, character education for the twenty-first century. Bradfield is an exciting place.
By the same token, the College community is richly varied, encompassing local families, Londoners, international pupils and global citizens for whom the question ‘where are you from’ is an anachronism. Meanwhile, extensive means-tested bursary support in the spirit of our founder, who established the principle of broad access, enables some remarkable young people to enjoy an education that would otherwise not be available to them. Bradfield is a diverse place.
The setting is not just a beautiful backdrop to Bradfield’s education but an intrinsic part of the learning experience.
In his recent book, The Last Wolf, Old Bradfieldian writer Robert Winder explains how accidents of geography played out over history have come to forge the English spirit. The same could be said of Bradfield and its people, for so much of what you learn at school is ‘caught, not taught’.
The only mention of Bradfield in Winder’s book is as the childhood village of Jethro Tull, inventor of the seed drill, which accelerated the agricultural revolution long before the College existed.
Three hundred years after Tull’s baptism in nearby Basildon, the Old Bradfieldian physicist, Sir Martin Ryle won a Nobel Prize for research into radio telescope systems which opened new vistas onto our place in the universe.
In a tree-lined valley, which contains a concentration of significant early prehistoric sites, are we now preparing hunter-gatherers for the electronic data forest? If so, history suggests that we are well placed to do so. Bradfield is indeed a rural idyll, but it is also a fertile platform.