About Bernard Trafford

Dr Bernard Trafford is a prolific writer and busy musician living (mostly) in Oxford. He was for many years a regular contributor to both the tes magazine (formerly Times Educational Supplement) and online schools magazine SecED. For seven years he was a regular columnist for Newcastle's local paper, The Journal and  was a founder-author, with other former Journal columnists, of the blog-site Voice of the North. 

2018 saw publication of his debut novel, Song for a Spy, a historical adventure set in medieval Bologna, and 2020 its sequel, Ballad of Betrayal. 


Bernard read music at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, where he was Organ Scholar. He started teaching music at High Wycombe's Royal Grammar School, and moved to become head of department at Wolverhampton Grammar School in 1981, having just married his wife, Katherine. In 1987 he became head of sixth form at WGS and, in 1990, became the school's Head.

From Wolverhampton he moved on to lead the Newcastle upon Tyne Royal Grammar School from 2008 to 2017. For eight months in 2018 he served as Interim Head of the Purcell School for Young Musicians in Bushey, Herts, after which he finally retired after some 28 years of school leadership.

In 2021 he became a Governor of The Purcell School, taking over as Chair in September. 

Bernard was 2007-9 Chairman of HMC, the organisation of some 300 UK and international British-style independent schools that includes most of the best in the world. He was an elected independent schools representative on the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) 1995-2006, chairing variously its Equal Opportunities and Publications committees. He has published books and articles on school democracy and Student Voice and advised both the UK government and the Council of Europe on education for democratic citizenship, co-authoring a handbook for the latter, now translated into more than a dozen European languages. His PhD thesis on the same theme won Birmingham University's 1996 George Cadbury Prize.

Over the years he served as a trustee (and, in some cases, as Chair) of various educational and/or musical charities including SCHOOLS NorthEast, School Councils UK*, SingUK* (previously YoungChoirs/ the British Federation of Young Choirs) and the National Schools' Symphony Orchestra (NSSO). He was a Leading Thinker for the National Education Trust. (*charities no longer operating)

Bernard was part of a professional team of volunteers who successfully opened a Free School in the deprived west end of Newcastle in 2015: the West Newcastle Academy is now thriving in splendid purpose-built accommodation in Benwell. Bernard remains a Member of the governing charitable trust. 

Having started his career as a musician, Bernard is making the most of retirement from school leadership to engage in a huge amount of musical activity. See Musician.

He and Katherine have two daughters (both are teachers, married to teachers), and are proud grandparents.