The River Thames outside DLD College London

From The Principal #199

8th December 23

Dear Parents and Guardians,

And so another Autumn term comes hurtling to an end, and with that, an ISI inspection to boot in the penultimate week of the longest term in the academic year. I have always defined the end of this term by the completion of reports (and Christmas cards), and this year, it has certainly come around quick…and the Christmas present from ISI, was an extra surprise! I’d like to thank everyone for their cooperation and positivity over the past week while the inspectors have been in school. However, I must remember that most of the world does not break up for another couple of weeks yet, at least, and that I should pipe down a little. It is, after all, only Friday 8th of December. It is always an oddity in schools like ours that the Christmas tree goes up at the end of November, and the Christmas lunch occurs in the first few weeks of December. And by the time the month is half over, I will have attended three carol services, attended a nativity, had the Christmas Spotify playlist on repeat, eaten a number of Christmas dinners and drunk a fair amount of alcohol-free mulled wine.

My ‘bah humbug’ traits can rise to the surface, just as much as they do, as Christmas advertising hits our screens almost as soon as the previous year stopped (or so it seems). But the festive spirit eventually holds sway as it always does, fuelled by images of the Christmas Jumper Day, which took place today, ice skating at Somerset House, Christmas Lunch next Wednesday, the Winter Awards Ceremony, Secret Santa and of course, the DLD Christmas Party. This is a DLD tradition, where the boarding community put on their Sunday best and celebrate the end of term in school with festive activities including, bucking reindeer (don’t ask!), mince pies and lashings of hot chocolate! This further demonstrates how strong (and fun) the DLD community is, and I thank all our selfless Houseparents, Chef Antonio and the Global Kitchen team for putting on such a great event this afternoon and for making boarding what it is at DLD – an authentic ‘home-from-home’ experience for our students and staff.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all our fantastic staff (and Governors) for all their commitment, hard work and dedication in ensuring that DLD remains at the top of its game, both pastorally and academically. From the ELT and SLT, HMs, HoDs, SLs, and all the teachers at the chalkface who inspire and motivate our students every day to seize all the learning opportunities at DLD. Our vision is to ‘Create Unique Learning Opportunities’, which is clearly evident with our Year 9s who went ice skating at the iconic Somerset House this morning. And our brilliant support staff who, without DLD, will simply not operate – thank you. I am indebted to all our staff and governors for their professionalism, work ethic and dedication.

Amid all that goes on in this fine institution of ours, it is the community spirit that matters and the willingness of students and staff to put themselves out on behalf of others, both within and beyond DLD. In a year that has seen real challenges both locally and nationally due to the travel disruption, weather issues, cold and flu, those core values of tolerance, respect, academic curiosity, community and kindness, which underpins all that we do, have remained paramount. We have seen them in abundance, again and again this term, as highlighted by the inspection team this week.

We also bid farewell to some staff who will be leaving us at the end of this term, and I want to take this opportunity to thank them for their loyal service and all that they have done to make DLD what it is today. Departing staff include Bryan Whittaker (Exams Officer), Mike Flack (HoD Film & Media) and Katherine Maclennan (Teacher of Maths). We wish them well on their respective adventures and journeys.

So, at this time of year, as we come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ as a religious and cultural celebration here and around the world, it seems a good place to pause and wish you all a very Happy Hannukah, Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Irfan Latif