In Taking the Lead, we talk to school head teachers and heads of department. Matthew Bryan, Headmaster at Longacre School, tells us about his work and his own school days
Favourite subject at school
I always loved Latin and Greek, and they have been part of my life since I was eight. The subject I miss most is maths. Pure mathematics can be wonderful and mesmerizing.
Most inspirational teacher at school
Mrs Beasley, my prep school classics teacher. Not only did she seem to know everything about Latin and Greek (and Sumo!), but she also knew exactly how to challenge every pupil so we were motivated and achieved a lot without ever feeling under pressure.
Favourite character from a book or film
I have too many to list, from Odysseus to Mr Chips. At the moment, my favourite is Babe from Dick King Smith’s The Sheep Pig. There’s such a powerful and inspiring message of the boundless opportunities in this world if one is prepared to be polite, work hard and listen to advice.
Best school memory
The applause at the end of the first prep school play that I was in. I can’t remember the play (though I recall borrowing my grandfather’s pipe and having drawn-on sideburns), but I can still feel the excitement, pride and camaraderie of playing a part in a successful production.
Is there anything you wished you had studied at school but didn’t?
I was immensely fortunate to go to schools that provided the fullest possible academic programme and was always able to choose my favourite subjects. I would have loved Forest School – it’s such a valuable means of taking learning outside, connecting with one’s environment and developing social and personal skills.
What is your proudest achievement at your current school?
Our new leadership and teamwork area. We know that grades and academic success are hugely important, but success in today’s fast-evolving world will depend on inter- and intra-personal skills. There’s little value in having all the answers if one can’t convince others to follow.
What are you looking forward to this coming year?
Every summer I look forward to our leavers finishing their journey with us and stepping forth into the next chapter of their lives. Then we look to the next year group to step up and fill their shoes, building on their achievements. We’ve got some new curriculum developments, with robotics and critical thinking, but really it’s the children’s development that is most exciting.
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