The River Thames outside DLD College London

ISA Awards 2020 FINALIST for Innovation in Pupil Voice

30th September 20

Innovation in Pupil Voice

We are delighted to have been announced as a finalist in the Independent Schools’ Association (ISA) Award for Innovation in Pupil Voice. With only three schools selected for the Finals, this is a tremendous achievement for DLD College London.

The ISA Awards is an annual event that celebrates success in its Members’ schools, and recognises the breadth of quality and provision in independent education across the country.

Our entry can be read here:

ISA Award for Innovation in Pupil Voice

Over the course of the year, DLD College London students have been on a remarkable journey, ensuring that their voice was central to our ongoing initiatives and events that are happening both inside and outside the school. Earlier in the year, after an inspiring talk delivered by Jo Ruxton from the charity Plastic Ocean UK, the student body was inspired to pledge and fund an initiative against single-use plastic. It provided water containers for each member of the community, which led to the petitioning and creation of hydration stations around the school to facilitate this new student-led initiative.

Most recently, the student response to the COVID-19 outbreak displayed excellent leadership and empathy when they first decided to create huge posters in support of key workers and NHS staff, displaying them in the school windows opposite St Thomas’ Hospital. The initiative then evolved to children from around the UK sending their own NHS rainbow posters, that the new hospitals were unable to accept, which our students and staff collated, laminated and added to the gallery in the windows, with over 4,000 pictures displayed to date. This led to the school becoming a ‘Beacon of Hope’, which the students had directed, organised and actioned. During this time, their sense of social responsibility and sense of positive impact was central to their journey in support of those who supported the UK. Both of these projects came from the students and focused on their voices being heard inside and outside the school.

DLD College London was recently praised for the mentoring programme that the students organise in school. The student mentoring system focuses on several training opportunities. Each student is trained in safeguarding, in counselling skills, in teaching English as a Second Language, in coaching and finally in Mental Health First Aid. Once the students have trained in these areas, they receive the DLD Mentoring Award, allowing them to not only support the students in our setting but also to take these skills into their future environments. They can break stigmas and support those around them to not only perform to the best of their ability but also to get the very best out of those that they will help.

The investment we make in the students is also evidenced by our Student Council, which has eighteen members who are all trained in leadership over the year, including specialist training from a leadership expert and then an ongoing coaching course. The aim is for the students to understand some of the key principles of leadership and to then apply these in the work that they do in the school. We invite students to be part of a wide number of leadership meetings in the school including Senior Leadership Team and Health & Safety meetings as well as regular meetings in faculties and departments to discuss the current student perspectives. All these measures are there to prepare the students for life outside in a work environment. The new 2020 Student Council’s video sets out their goals and priorities for the coming academic year, reflecting the breadth and depth of involvement that they take within the school. It can be viewed on the DLD College London YouTube Channel here.

All of our students are encouraged to engage with the local community to ensure a full experience of living in London through a number of different projects, including working at the local city farm and the local food bank. Students have also been involved in campaigns for the local community centre, have supported children’s charities and raised money for our school charity the Evelina London Children’s Hospital.
“It is fantastic to have DLD College London engaged in supporting projects across our community… connecting them to their local community, and supporting those in need, whilst at school.” Steve Chalke MBE of the Oasis Charitable Trust.

One of our key aims is to develop an understanding of Mental Health for all students and we have trained over 40 students in the Mental Health First Aid Youth qualification since 2018, aiming at destigmatising mental health concerns. This is an incredibly important point, as students arrive here with varying levels of acceptance of speaking and sharing their challenges. We are ensuring that the perception of education is not solely on academic grades but also, just as importantly, an understanding of themselves and others.

The students are central to the feeling of acceptance within the school, with a continued commitment to celebrate difference and encourage understanding of the varying ethnicities, nationalities and cultures represented. This was very apparent recently with the death of George Floyd and the strength of feeling expressed by the students supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. A special video was recorded by the students in response to this to share with the community with the message of taking responsibility to better educate ourselves and plans for sharing of resources. Throughout the school year, the students celebrate several events including the Lunar New Year, Nowruz, Russian Christmas, Thai New Year, Ramadan (with students attending a local community Iftar at a local centre), Yom Kippur and other religious events. Other notable events such as Black History Month, Remembrance, VE Day and International Women’s Day, are also celebrated, and these demonstrate the international-mindedness and openness that these student-led events offer each other. Each year we hold a DLD International Day when students present their own countries to the rest of the student body through food (specially curated menus in our Global Kitchen dining room), music and dress. All events offer students an insight into the importance of our fundamental values of respect, tolerance and kindness, demonstrated through the engagement and adoption of these values through the student’s voice.