Group opens flagship school in UK
Project aims to deliver on commitment to each child’s happiness
THE bespoke private school may have been the reserve of aristocratic British dandies for centuries, but from the colonies comes a fresh take on independent education with the expansion of Reddam House to the UK.
Reddam House, whose development in Africa and Australia has been matched only by its now legendary academic achievement, has opened its flagship school in the UK this month, at Reddam House Berkshire at the magnificent Bearwood House in Wokingham, southeast England.
Founded by Graeme Crawford, Reddam House has as its MD Stephen Spurr, the headmaster who turned Westminster into the UK’s highest performing school.
“This is a thrilling project that enables us to bring a fresh, dynamic option to this country and to deliver our commitment to the happiness and individuality of each child, while pursuing excellence in every sphere,” says Crawford.
Reddam House’s philosophy has emerged from a passion for education, he says.
“It’s a family thing.”
Crawford’s father was a headmaster turned school inspector, four of whose five children, including Graeme, became teachers, and the fifth, a designer, helps give the schools their contemporary look. It was during 10 years in the classroom that Graeme Crawford discovered how to inspire children to achieve their personal best. “My lessons were challenging but fun, so my kids got the best results.”
In 1993 he opened his first school, Crawford College, in Johannesburg. By 1999 there were six highly successful schools across the country. The first Reddam House was founded in Constantia, Cape Town in 2000. Success has inspired Reddam House schools in Cape Town, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Sydney — a suite, now including the UK, of 10.
This rate of expansion has only been possible because of the strength and consistency of Crawford’s educational principles. While public schools are rightly proud of their tradition, they do not necessarily equip pupils for the modern world. Crawford has deconstructed the system, examined the fitness of every part and reassembled it as a new, superperforming machine.
“Academically, our approach is to hand-pick the top teacher for every subject — the right teacher to inspire and motivate children, in the classroom, on the sports field or on stage,” says Crawford.
Excellence is a word that Crawford and Spurr use unashamedly. Top results — let alone rounded personalities — are not achieved by doggedly flogging a rigid curriculum. “If you’re teaching the children to think, understand and apply, you can test them in any way and they’ll perform well.”
This approach has been proven in Australia with its almost obsessive state testing, and Reddam House Sydney is considered one of the topmost performing schools in the country. Reddam House regards the life skills of selfconfidence, leadership and public speaking as paramount. So drama is an integral part of the curriculum for everybody. This helps the shyest of children to grow in confidence, rather than boosting the confidence of those who are already natural performers.
At Reddam House schools true excellence in education in the broadest sense goes far beyond teaching young people cognitive skills. “It talks to core values and vital life skills and how to add value and make a positive difference within one’s ever-expanding sphere of influence. Your attitude, selfdiscipline, informed choices and actions will ultimately determine your altitude in life and inform and improve the quality of life around you,” says Crawford.
Reddam House regards the life skills of self-confidence, leadership and communication as essential. “These skills are required by top companies and institutions across the globe. Most occupations of this generation of students will be vastly different to those held today.”
Every Reddam House pupil learns an instrument and performs in an ensemble. An emphasis on dance has led to some monumental ballet productions. And any institution with a South African and Australian pedigree can be expected to take sport seriously. Crawford believes school should not be weirdly different from the world outside. To this end, Reddam House schools are naturally co-educational, with a flexible uniform and a vibrant campus life.
Reddam House Berkshire is a restored Victorian mansion. Built for a Victorian proprietor of The Times newspaper, John Walter, it is set in a 120-acre estate with woods, lake and sports pitches.
Reddam House’s UK and European expansion — backed by Educas, the investment group founded by Nadim M Nsouli — also now includes Fulham Prep, the prep and pre-prep school in London. It is a move which is set to elevate this popular and successful school into the capital’s premier rank. Other premium sites in Italy, France and Switzerland are being considered for future openings.
Reddam House Schools’ code of conduct is grounded on the foundational premises of honesty, dignity and mutual respect. Building respect through openness, honesty and earning trust forms the basis of an ethical community and environment. Its approach promotes tolerance of a diverse range of viewpoints, world views, faiths and opinions The school’s motto of We Shall Give Back indicates a strong awareness of the environment and world beyond the school boundaries and encourages community service and reaching out to those less fortunate.
Graeme Crawford … a family thing.