The River Thames outside DLD College London

From The Principal #121

10th September 21

A heartfelt and warm welcome to DLD College London, whether you are a returning family or have joined DLD 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 5pm – do keep an eye out for it in your inbox to catch up on all the exciting 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 Sixth Form, we look forward next year to building on a historic year of examination results where some 82% of our students achieved A*-B at A Level, 100% 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 Imperial, UCL, King’s, LSE, Durham, Warwick; the list is impressive. We are so proud of them, especially with what they have had to go through over the past eighteen 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 we 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 during 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 will 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 humanity, resilience and character.

We also welcomed a number of new staff to DLD this year and I know they are settling into life at DLD – we wish them every success possible.
Helen Edwardson – Bursar
Shriya Patel – HR Officer
Jonathan Maynard – Acting HoD Economics
George Callaghan – Teacher of Politics
Max Copley – Teacher of Business
Dr Lindsay Reid – Teacher of Biology
Lowri Carini – Resident Boarding Assistant
Shirley Mitchell – Head of Boarding (Oct 2021)
Dr Sarah Watson – Vice Principal (Academic) who will take over from Tom Hadcroft in January 2022. Tom has been appointed the new Head at Berkhamsted School – many congratulations to him and there will be an opportunity later this term to formally thank him for his sterling service to DLD over the past 6 years.

It is my firm hope to be in touch with you about coronavirus less this year than has been the case over the previous two years. As schools returned this week and as adults also began to go back to commuting and working in offices, I imagine that the number of cases will increase. As throughout the pandemic, DLD College London will follow the guidance set out by the Department for Education. We will adopt a common-sense approach which balances genuine health concerns with a complete educational experience. On the one hand, we have a range of sensible precautions: enhanced cleaning remains in place this year; good ventilation is important and will be maintained; hand sanitiser is available to all students; anti-viral wipes for tables are provided in every classroom; students and staff should take lateral flow tests twice weekly and self-isolate in the event of a positive result, confirmed by a PCR test. On the other hand, we are returning to whole-school assemblies, sport and activities; clubs and societies will operate across year groups; the new House System will be an excellent way for older and younger students to get to know one another.

DLD remains a mask-friendly school. This means that any student, guest or member of staff is welcome to wear a face covering in corridors, crowded spaces and classrooms, but this is not a requirement. We can enter the new term in confidence because all of us will have been checked for coronavirus thanks to the lateral flow tests system that took place last week and this week. All the adults have been offered vaccinations and all of the Sixth Formers have too. I encourage those who are eligible to take up this offer. As you would expect, we will be “stepping measures up and down” in response to risks as cases rise or fall over the course of the term and our new Bursar, Helen Edwardson will take the lead on this.

As we enter a new year, I want to acknowledge the one that has just past. We had much to celebrate – how well the school community came together and responded to the crisis; our successful move to online learning; our award-winning (and there were certainly plenty of awards last year!) pastoral care and wellbeing and the creation of our new sports facilities and wellbeing garden. 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 and comprehensive 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 feel safe, secure and happy during this unprecedented time.

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

Best wishes,

Irfan Latif, Principal