The River Thames outside DLD College London

From The Principal #200

31st December 23

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Happy New Year! Bonne Année! سال نو مبارک Buon anno! С Новым Годом! Shana Tova! नव वर्ष की शुभकामनाएँ ¡ Feliz Año Nuevo! Šťastný nový rok! !عام سعيد

Welcome to 2024 and the 200th edition of ‘From the Principal’. I hope you and your loved ones had a peaceful and relaxing festive break and are looking forward to what the new year and the spring term will bring. We are all hoping that 2024 will be very different to 2023, and it hasn’t failed to deliver in that respect!

2024 will undoubtedly have its unique challenges. I have been impressed with how our staff, students and governors have stepped up to meet the new challenges that face us all – political, financial, academic and pastoral. That’s what I call resilience. The ISI inspection in the penultimate week of the Autumn term (brutal timing!) was a real test of that resilience, and I will share the report with you once it is published. At this stage, all I can say is that it was a very positive experience with the inspection team and as always, our students were magnificent. We are in the business of ‘creating unique learning opportunities and experiences’ – that is our vision, and we have continued to do just that despite the apparent challenges.

Since returning, plenty has happened. We had our ‘Staff Development Day’ and looked at aspects of best practice with digital learning, new teaching initiatives and the importance of meeting the needs of the 21st century learner. We also had our whole school assembly on the first day back in the atrium, welcoming our students and our new January starters to the DLD family. In our assembly, we discussed the need to be kind within our DLD community and beyond that. I drew inspiration from our school values and the Charlie Mackesy story, ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse,’ which aired on BBC TV over the festive season. The mole asked the boy, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “Kind.” replied the boy. Congratulations to Robita in Y9, who delivered an assured performance on the piano as she opened the beginning of term assembly with Ludovic Einaudi’s ‘Experience’. And congratulations must also go to our Y13 students who have received university offers already from the likes of Oxford, UCL, King’s, and Warwick, to name but a few – we are so proud of all of our students’ achievements.

We have made a few changes this term and welcome new staff members to our family. Firstly, Max Copley is now Assistant HM Piccadilly House, Patric Cochrane is 2i/c Business and Economics, Michael Whitfield is our new Art Technician and District House Tutor, Sophie Sandford is the new Jubilee Houseparent in boarding, and Macy McCutcheon is the new Boarding Assistant with Piccadilly and Metropolitan Houses. I wish them well as they take on these responsibilities and work with your sons and daughters to improve their wellbeing and learning. Secondly, we welcome Dr. Gareth Healey, our new Head of Film and Media, who takes over from Mike Flack, who is now leading an educational charity, and Sabina Sanocz, our new Exams Officer, who takes over from Bryan Whittaker, who has now retired and has moved to sunny Indonesia. We look forward to working with and supporting our new colleagues as they settle into life at DLD.

You will have received a letter earlier this week from Mr Tim Haynes, the Chairman of Abbey DLD Colleges Ltd, announcing my move to take up the Headship at the Royal Hospital School in Suffolk after seven years of service at DLD. There will be an appropriate time later this year to reflect on my time here and the changes we have made, but for now, it’s business as usual, and we can’t wait to ‘spring’ into action!

Irfan Latif