The River Thames outside DLD College London

From the Principal #86

11th September 20

A heartfelt and warm welcome to DLD College London, whether you are a current family or have joined DLD this week for the first time.

I’m delighted to be writing to you, our DLD community, with the first edition for this academic year of ‘From The Principal’, which you’ll receive every Friday around 5 pm – do keep an eye out for it in your inbox to catch up on all the things that have happened at College that week, hear my latest ruminations and a heads up on any events or important dates that you need to be aware of.

I’ve spent the last week reacquainting with our students and getting to know our new ones. Our Student Council have surpassed themselves by wholeheartedly supporting our new students throughout the enrolment and induction process and are showing real signs of leadership. It’s a privilege to also welcome our new staff to the DLD family who joined us last month and have been preparing for the new term. I hope they enjoy the DLD experience and being part of a supportive and caring community. It’s a genuine privilege to be the Principal of DLD College London; there is so much that I want to celebrate about DLD, and lots that we can develop and enhance to ensure that our provision is sector leading and the envy of schools and colleges around the country. In the Upper School, we look forward next year to building on a great year of examination results where some 93% of our students achieved A*-C at A-level, 98% passed the IFP and 100% the BTEC. This has led to over 80% of our leavers going on to their first choice university, many of which are Russell Group, which include Oxford, Imperial, UCL, King’s, LSE, Durham, Exeter; the list is impressive. We are so proud of them, especially with what they have had to go through over the past six months – it’s testimony to their resilience and character.

In my address to the staff at the beginning of this new and strange term, I reflected that the world our students are about to enter will be fundamentally different from that which we have lived through during our adult lives. To adapt with the times, we need to adapt our curriculum accordingly and incorporate skills into our academic delivery to foster creativity, analytical thinking, innovation, and emotional intelligence. Although a school by its nature must focus on the primacy of the classroom, I want to make it clear that my Headship at DLD is much more than simply the promotion of academic success.

Academic success and ambition is the first cornerstone of what I believe to be the triangle of a DLD education. We need to have students on a warm August morning celebrating entrance to their chosen Universities waving sheets of paper in the new DLD Wellbeing Garden that effervesce with excellent grades. However, we need to remember that so much about life, about success, about how we interact, is about those two important qualities – resilience and character. If you were to reflect on school or university days it would most probably be the events outside of the classroom that moulded us the most. Winning that 2nd XI football match. Getting the confidence to play in the school band. Performing live on stage. Managing not to forget your lines during the school play. Giving a winning speech in a debate. Our extensive programme of co-curricular activities (CCAs) is, therefore, our second cornerstone. The final cornerstone that connects everything together is effective and loving pastoral care, and in the midst of this crisis, pastoral care holds even greater importance than normal. Across our staff and student body, there will be anxious people who will need more care than ever. We must focus on their, and our, mental health, and we need to be confident enough in our working environment to admit when things are tough and be reassured by the leadership my staff and I give, that it’s alright if everything is not all right. Academic success, varied and innovative co-curricular involvement, and excellent pastoral care are what we must do best together at DLD. We will celebrate every aspect of our provision that moulds and develops our students. In the future, our students and your children may be interviewed for a job on account of their qualifications. But once they’ve got to interview, they’ll be more often than not appointed to that job on account of their character, resilience and humanity.

As we enter a new year, I want to briefly reflect on the one past. We had much to celebrate – an ‘Excellent’ ISI inspection report back in October 2019, our nomination for ‘ISP Independent School of the Year 2019‘ for our innovative work on wellbeing and our shortlisting for the prestigious ‘TES Boarding School of the Year 2020’ (we are finalists this year for ‘International Student Experience’ and ‘Independent Boarding School of the Year’ which is a remarkable achievement in itself!). Our excellent remote learning provision through Canvas and our outstanding public exam results this summer were the icing on the cake – there is certainly plenty to celebrate at DLD. But the last academic year is now past. A new one is ahead of us. We are all resolutely looking ahead to the future. None of us could have expected the challenge of COVID. As a school, we have tried to do everything possible to give our students as positive an experience as possible. I am grateful to each family for bearing with us as we have put new guidelines, plans and procedures in place. I have had a few emails that have questioned our decisions, but far more that have thanked us for the intricate work we have done. I appreciate both viewpoints, as feedback enables us to reflect on what we have put in place and how we can ensure our students and staff are happy and feel safe and secure during this unprecedented time.

I very much look forward to meeting as many parents as I can during these strange times in the weeks and months ahead. I, as well as the brilliant DLD staff, are grateful to you for your perseverance, and thank you for your trust.

Best wishes

Irfan

Irfan H Latif, Principal

DLD College London
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