Will Goldsmith speaks to Independent School Management Plus
In his first media interview since his appointment as permanent Head of Bedales Schools, Will Goldsmith spoke to Dr Helen Wright at Independent School Management Plus about what drew him to the school and his plans for the future.
Having first joined Bedales in April 2021 as Deputy Head (Academic), Will told Dr Wright that it was the school’s distinctive ethos that piqued his interest three years earlier. He said: “I was ever so slightly bored of telling teenagers off for having shirts untucked or ties that needed doing up … I really wanted to come to a place where interactions walking around the school could be much more positive and about students and their learning.”
The school’s unique curriculum was another deciding factor for Will, who told Dr Wright that he is excited about building on the success of Bedales Assessed Courses (BACs), which are taken in combination with five core I/GCSEs, and plans to make them the dominant qualification at Bedales at 16. He explained: “It’s really clear that teachers are perfectly capable of crafting excellent, high quality curriculum without the need for an exam board or the Department for Education to micro-manage what that looks like.”
Discussing the lessons to be learnt from the pandemic, the conversation moved on to global issues including the environment and sustainability – issues which will have real impact on the future of young people. Citing the “gift” of the Bedales Outdoor Work curriculum, which was introduced by Bedales founder John Badley to enable students to develop an awareness, appreciation and knowledge of the natural environment and remains just as relevant today, Will commented: “Schools and educators have a particular responsibility to think even more about the climate crisis, sustainability and the environment.”
Moving on to what it is that young people take forward from a Bedales education, including an ability to challenge the status quo and a sense of confidence grounded in authenticity and knowledge, Will then considered the impact the school has beyond the education of its students, revealing a desire to “demonstrate to people both in the UK and internationally that there are alternative ways of doing things”. Bedales’ wider impact on the education sector also led Will to touch upon his status as one of only a few openly gay boarding school heads, how welcome he has felt at Bedales but how education is still affected by “the shadow of Section 28”.
Closing the interview, Will shared his predictions for the future of education, including GCSE reform, online exams, Baccalaureate-style education, a core focus on the environment in the curriculum, a shift away from single sex boarding schools and the rise of co-educational boarding houses.