Dave Strudwick, Principal, REAL School

  • 17 Sep 2020 6:17 PM
Dave Strudwick, Principal, REAL School
Dave Strudwick is Principal at REAL School; an innovative new school in Budapest focussing on making the world a better place. He’s worked as a teacher and leader in mainstream and specialist settings in the UK, US and China.

Dave is a published author with a great deal of experience around leadership, learning needs, habits and mental health. His inquiry based approach enables young people and adults to navigate a rapidly changing world.

He’s been a Headteacher and co-founded three schools, including the UK’s first trauma informed school, for at risk youth, School for Inspiring Talents. At Blackawton Primary the curriculum was judged outstanding by Ofsted.

He has developed and supported online schooling, including leading a virtual school, through a blended and personalised approach. In Plymouth the school was referred to as a beacon of hope by the Edge Foundation for its project based approach and recognised in the Parliamentary Review.

He also co-created the world’s youngest published scientists - Blackawton Bees and the i,scientist programme at the National Science Museum in London.  

1. When did you arrive in Hungary and what brought you here?
I arrived in beautiful Budapest at the end of July to lead REAL School. The school provided the most amazing pull regarding the transformation of the education system. The first thing I noticed on entering Hungary was a sign welcoming families, this gave me a great feeling regarding the values of the country and I am so happy to be in such a beautiful city.

2. Have you ever been an expatriate elsewhere?
Yes, I was in America for a while in Michigan. I have been lucky to work with schools in a range of countries ranging from China, Denmark, Germany and South Korea. Budapest holds something so special though regarding its culture and access to so many wonderful places.

3. What surprised you most about Hungary?
My biggest surprise has been how wonderful Budapest is. I have always seen myself as a country person but I am loving it here. People have been so welcoming, friendly and understanding of my poor Hungarian. My daughter had to go to hospital and we could not have had better support.

The kindness of the doctors and staff was very reassuring. In relation to 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.

4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
It is probably a little early to be asking me this, as I have had limited time here and I am finding so much I enjoy. For families I would suggest a trip down the Danube at night. Connecting to the bridges, buildings and history of the city takes your breath away. The woodland around the Buda hills provides the most magnificent views too. There are so many places to see great Art. For those who love food there are also many choices, I really enjoyed the Farmers Market and Jazz at Szimpla.

5. What is your favourite Hungarian food?
A vegetarian rakott krumpli. I love fish too so looking forward to some freshly caught perch.

6. What is never missing from your refrigerator?
Cheese for us to fight over, Milk for my breakfast and a few beers (just in case)!

7. What is your favourite Hungarian word?
Éjszakát when saying jó éjszakát to my girls at bedtime.

8. What do you miss most from home?
The sea was a beautiful part of my time in England, so I know I will miss this but sailing on Lake Balaton on a wonderful summer’s day was an experience I will never forget.

9. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
When I was younger I really wanted to be an Olympic runner, but these days if I didn’t have the best job in the world I would have fun writing a children’s book.

10. What's a job you would definitely never want?
Anything where I didn’t have a great reason to get up in the morning. With teaching and leading a school I am never clock watching and always have something to really look forward to in the day ahead.

11. Where did you spend your last vacation?
I was in Saugatuck by Lake Michigan last Autumn. It was beautiful being by the lakes and the Kalamazoo river. My son had come over from England too to visit us.

12. Where do you hope to spend your next holiday?
We are going to be exploring Hungary. More time at Balaton is definitely on the cards!

13. Apart of temptation what can't you resist?
Crisps are just too good! I know they are not classy or healthy, but that will never stop me! A few is never enough.

14. What was your favourite band, film, or hobby as a teen?
Sports like running and rugby, I absolutely loved the challenge, improving and competing. My favorite band as a teenager were the Smiths, a great connection to family in Manchester and to a feeling of not quite fitting in.

15. Red wine or white?
Red, I love a full bodied, oaky red wine and so I’m thoroughly enjoying exploring some of the Hungarian options now available to me.

16. Book or movie?
Book at the moment but could be a box set next week. I definitely enjoy both.

17. Morning person or night person?
Night for my best ideas.

18. Which social issue do you feel most strongly about?
I have cared about sustainability since the 80’s and I am definitely trying to create new habits about the way I travel and eating more plant based foods.

19. Buda or Pest side?
Buda, love the hills and the views and the slowness of this side of the city to live in.

20. What would you say is your personal motto?
I have two. One I adopted from my mum - ‘Life is not a rehearsal’. She lived life to the full and achieved so many things beyond the limitations in front of her. The other is a quote by Marcel Proust - "The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Both are great reflections of the school I lead.

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