Interview REAL School Budapest Dave Strudwick, Principal

Feb 7, 2021 by

It is important that we all take a broad view of the world and learn from our colleagues around the corner and around the globe. We are very pleased to catch up with Dave Strudwick, Principal

Dave Strudwick

REAL School Budapest who has been an educational leader and innovator or 3 continents. Dave and his team are truly adding value and making a difference and we wanted to take the time to share his insights with our EdNEWS readers.  

Dave, thanks for taking the time to to share the REAL School Budapest story with us.

  1. How would you describe REAL School?

It’s a small, purpose driven school which is looking to make the world a better place. That means we focus on Real world learning and issues such as sustainability. Our pedagogy looks to take people through an authentic project based approach where they develop their dreams and turn them into reality. 

  1. What has surprised you most about working in Budapest after places like Michigan, China and the UK?

Working internationally is a privilege when it comes to broadening your understanding of both yourself and others. My biggest surprise has been how wonderful it is living in a city like Budapest. I have been amazed at how quickly you can move from the most beautiful architecture to stunning countryside. REAL school has the Danube, Óbuda Island and the culture of the city all within easy reach. I have always seen myself as a country person but I am loving it here in a city. The people have been so welcoming, and friendly as well.

  1. What have you been most proud of at REAL School?

I think the creation of our ‘wonder trail’ using an app called Turf Hunt. We considered how we could create the chance for children to have an authentic audience for their poetry and films during the COVid pandemic as a part of a project using the lens of wonder. We created a trail of the children’s poetry and short films working with a local film director which parents could access as they wandered around an island, Obudai Sziget near the school. The trail can be accessed with gps in a way that as you follow the trail a new poem or film pops up on your phone. But without GPS you can still access the children’s work and they’ve received feedback from all over the world helping them see their reach but also sharing learning with grandparents and wider family. 

  1. How is REAL School different to others?

There are many things that develop a different quality. We have no tests, we have a dragon called Mirabelle (there has to be magic!), we don’t have classrooms but a large open learning space, we have a weekly nature based excursion, we make everything at least twice so redrafting based on feedback is a key process, we use technology to transform the learning experience including Artificial Intelligence to support our approach to Mathematics, and our school dinners are Vegan. 

  1. So you have plant based school meals, how does that work? 

The school has invested heavily in addressing issues around sustainability as a part of making a more beautiful world. This means that we consider how to act differently including how we eat. Our founders connected to a Vegan based chef and we have a menu that is plant based. We even have a very popular after school vegan cooking club. Personally, it’s shown me what is possible and given me the practical know how to eat less meat. If this could be replicated around the world what a difference this could make. The impact we have already had is that our students believe we can act differently and lead the way.

  1. How do teachers work differently at REAL School?

We look to design experiences which support our young people to grow into changemakers. Our educators draw on a blend of practices from facilitation to direct teaching.  We are all seen, whatever our age, as learners and facilitators of learning who are looking to move from learning being realistic to learning being real. That means as educators we connect our learning to the community and to people with the authentic skills needed for a project, such as film making, which we won’t have as teachers. 

  1. How do you assess at REAL School?

We don’t use testing other than for our bike licenses which children need to cycle on journeys near to the school. We assess in a number of ways but central to this is the age old idea that assessment is about sitting alongside. Assessment includes:

  1. Identifying need, structures to support understanding
  2. Providing quality feedback to help a student improve 
  3. By helping them review learning, draw and map in a way that helps them build an understanding of themselves and their world

As such assessment is the glue which connects our pedagogy and curriculum experience in a virtuous cycle. 

  1. What’s been the biggest challenge of 2020?

The development of our ‘anywhere learning’ approach has been both a challenge and a real success. We have been developing an approach to meaningfully connect learners in different places when learning in school is not a possibility for them. This has got us to think differently about how to give instruction and how to facilitate. We have flipped the learning space, utilized new roles and considered how digital work can be as much about making as it is about communication.

  1. What do you get most excited by for 2021?

One of the things that is most exciting will be discovery. That’s a whole range of things from our students making new connections around the world, to being able to imagine new possibilities in our rapidly changing experiences. But a part of this, for me personally, is enjoying the chance to be alongside young people who could each go onto make something beautiful happen. A friend of mine once said that a great teacher sees something in you before you do yourself. That’s a beautiful privilege and opportunity. 

10. International mindedness is so important for our world, what might this mean for you?

The past 12 months has shown us the power of considering a more connected view of the world. What happens in Washington might impact on Michigan but also Europe. If we are truly looking to make the world a better place we have to see ourselves and others differently. We also have to believe that our actions matter. At REAL School we give our students the chance for their learning to enter their muscles, not just their minds. 

Dave, thank you for making 

REAL School Budapest “real” for our readers. Is there a way for people to contact you and learn more.

Certainly. Our team of educators and students are always willing to share and learn from others. 

Please reach out to me at: Dave Strudwick, Principal

REAL School Budapest

+44 7506 757 003

Ángel Sanz Briz út 13, 1033 Budapest, Hungary

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