The River Thames outside DLD College London

From The Principal Newsletter #188

8th September 23

A heartfelt and warm welcome to DLD College London, whether you are a returning family or have joined DLD for the first time. The summer weather has also joined us this term – long may it continue!

I’m delighted to be writing to you, our DLD community, with the first edition for this academic year of ‘From The Principal’ (FTP), which you’ll receive every Friday around 5 p.m. – do keep an eye out for it in your inbox to catch up on all the exciting things that have happened at school that week, hear my latest thoughts 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 for 2023/24 has surpassed itself by wholeheartedly supporting our new students throughout the enrolment and induction process and is showing real signs of leadership. It’s a privilege to 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 honour 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 that we can share best practices with schools and colleges around the country. In the Sixth Form, we look forward next year to building on an excellent set of examination results where some 60% of our students achieved A*-B at A Level, 100% A*-A in the EPQ, 100% passed the IFP, and 100% passed 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 Cambridge, Imperial, UCL, King’s, Durham, Warwick, and UCLA in the US to name but a few to study a diverse set of degrees from Computational Science to Classics; the list is impressive. We are so proud of them, especially with what they have had to go through over the past few years – it’s testimony to their resilience and character.

In my address to the staff at the beginning of this new term, I reflected that the world our students are about to enter will fundamentally differ from what we have lived through during our adult lives. To adapt to the times, we must change our curriculum accordingly and incorporate skills into our academic delivery to foster creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, innovation, and communication. Although a school, by its nature, must focus on the primacy of the classroom, I want to clarify that my Headship at DLD is much more than simply promoting academic success.

Academic success and ambition are 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 their results in the DLD Wellbeing Garden or the 18th floor, that effervesce with excellent grades. However, we must remember that so much about life, success, and how we interact is about those two important qualities – resilience and character. If we were to reflect on school or university days, it would probably be the events outside the classroom that moulded us the most – winning that 1st VII netball match or 1st XI football fixture, 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, playing a piano solo in assembly. Our extensive programme of co-curricular activities (CCAs) is, therefore, our second cornerstone, and the CCA Fair that took place yesterday was testimony to that.

The final cornerstone that connects everything is effective and loving pastoral care. Across our staff and student body will be anxious people who will need more care than ever. We must focus on their mental health and 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, diverse and inclusive 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 because 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.

As we enter a new year, I want to acknowledge the one that has just passed. We had much to celebrate. But the last academic year is now past. A new one is ahead of us, and I know it’s only been a week, but there is already plenty to celebrate. Our new Year 9 cohort is a historic chapter in our illustrious history, and these new members of our family, who joined us this week, seem to be settling in well. We are also proud to have won Boarding School of the Year (again!) and have won Talk Education’s ‘Innovation in Education’ award, demonstrating our commitment to preparing the next generation with the key skills and aptitudes they will need for the future. And that’s not all – for the third consecutive year, we are in the prestigious Tatler School Guide 2024, rubbing shoulders with the best independent schools in the country. And we are not going to stop there. As a school, we are doing everything we can to give our students as positive an experience as possible. Our mission statement clearly states – “Developing the next generation of Leaders to take their place in a Diverse and challenging world.”

I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible during this new academic year in the weeks and months ahead. I and the outstanding DLD staff are grateful for your support, and thank you for trusting us.

Best wishes

Irfan Latif