We get to know Sophie Bradshaw, Head of Dulwich Cranbrook

Tell us about the changes at Dulwich
This is an extremely exciting time at Dulwich with the opening of our senior school. Our Year 9s are already thriving in their new state-of-the-art building, and Year 10 will be joining in September. The process will complete with the addition of Year 11 in 2025. In keeping with our commitment to the individual child, we’re proud to offer a highly flexible choice of GCSE options alongside the core compulsory subjects. If a student has a clear leaning towards a given area, they will be able to pursue their passions without restriction. This really sets us apart from many other schools. Dulwich has a long and impressive record with 11- and 13-plus and we will maintain our strident support of children taking these routes, alongside those who are with us until 16.

What do you feel you bring to the school?
With experience in senior leadership from prep through to sixth form, the move to Dulwich feels like a very natural fit. I’m here to facilitate positive change and anticipate and mitigate any unintended consequences. Having previously taught in a school where most parents were working, I’ve been keen to accommodate the requirements of the whole family. I identified the need for an extra class at the bottom of the school (for 2+), which has already opened and proven extremely popular. I’ve also introduced a new system where (aside from emergencies) we only send messages out to parents twice a week. I’ve had such a grateful response from parents. We are here for the whole family, not just the children.

What are you looking forward to this year?
Firstly, I can’t wait to see the GCSE offering come to life – to see this cohort who we’ve nurtured through the process go on to study the subjects they love. It will be such a joy to see all the amazing opportunities we’ve created for our students, come to fruition. The second thing is our wonderful new senior school cafe space. It is intended as a place for year groups to mix, so the addition of year 10 will be great to see. Dulwich is particularly good at fostering relationships across year groups, through drama productions, mixed-age sport and clubs – we currently have Year 7s, 8s and 9s building an electric car together. It’ll be fantastic to see Years 9, 10 and then 11, socialising and studying in the lovely space.

What sets Dulwich apart?
Dulwich has ‘a history of changemakers’ (see our wonderful new website!). We’ve been forward-thinking right from the start when in 1938 John Leakey, Headmaster of Dulwich College Prep London, saw the need for evacuation and created a school camp here in Cranbrook – the first of its kind. We were one of the earliest prep schools to become co-ed and I see the current changes as just another step in keeping with this philosophy. We’re happy to do things differently. We have no mobile phones in the whole school (including seniors). This has a really positive effect on how the children interact and it helps parents fight the ‘phone battle’. We also have ‘Dulwich Inspires’ which encourages every child to access sport in a way they enjoy to foster a life-long love of activity. Competitive sport, across abilities, is available to all students and 90% take part, but if they prefer individual sport this is also provided – so in the summer when cricket is played, those who choose to head off to learn sailing instead. We’ve always been a school of proactive pioneers who see what’s needed and move with the times. The important thing is to bring the whole community along with you.


My favourite…

Book: Cue for Treason by Geoffrey Trease – which no one has ever read but which, having read aged 11, resonated so much that I named my daughter after my favourite character.

Song: The One by Kodaline – the first dance at my wedding.

Place: London – I have always appreciated living close enough for theatre and museums but far enough away for fresh air and muddy walks.

Speaking Sense

Mike Piercy, education consultant and former Head of The New Beacon, turns language pupil A favourite word: smellfungus. A favourite book: The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (two weighty tomes). A favourite pursuit: looking up a word, getting distracted by other,...

Perfect Pitch

Mike Piercy, education consultant and former Head of The New Beacon, sings the praises of music in education What exactly is it that drives parents to make huge sacrifices by sending their children to independent schools? Different families have different...

‘It’s not fair!’

Mike Piercy, education consultant and former Head of The New Beacon, explains the importance of winning and losing with good grace The beefy second row lay prone, groaning, as the pack lumbered away. “Get up, Darling!” I cried. Opposition spectators...