The River Thames outside DLD College London

From the Principal #211 (A Farewell from Irfan Latif, Principal)

1st July 24

Principal Irfan Latif

The UEFA Euros football competition continues to grip the nation and has thrown up more surprises than we ever would have expected. With England topping the group without a convincing win, Georgia qualifying for the competition’s knockout stages, and Portugal losing to Turkey, nothing seems impossible. However, the referee has blown the final whistle here at DLD, and this extraordinary game has finally ended. As we reflect on another game, we will undoubtedly assess our performance, nurse any wounds and analyse where we did well and what we could improve. It’s essential, however, that we use the time before the next game to rest, relax and recuperate, and I hope this summer will provide us all with that. It has been a tough game for us all, but we have maintained our standards, supported each other, worked hard on areas we could develop and celebrated success. That is what we do well at DLD.

Based on the iconic London Underground tube network, the House system has proved to be a huge success, and yesterday’s House Competition Day, which Jubilee won, was testimony to that. The strong identity that each house has created has become part of the fabric of DLD. Staying with the theme of ‘London is our Classroom’, it has been fantastic to see the students embracing their learning outside the classroom over this past week as they have visited numerous museums, galleries, and historical London sites – hugely successful and rewarding. We often say that education is more than simply learning the syllabus and passing exams; this has never been more evident than during this week with Qualifications Day. We can safely say the wider DLD College London community can be very proud of our outstanding student body.

It has been a privilege to say goodbye over the last few weeks to the departing Year 11s, Year 13s, and Year 14s, at various assemblies, events and the Summer Ball. I discussed this at last week’s Graduation Ceremony at the iconic Central Hall, Westminster. It was great to be at the world-renowned building where President Barack Obama, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela have all spoken. My thanks to the Chairman of Abbey DLD Group of Colleges and our Chair of Governors, Tim Haynes, for awarding the prizes, and Julie Robinson, CEO of the Independent Schools Council, for her inspirational keynote.

DLD has instilled in us the importance of resilience, adaptability and community. In a constantly changing world, the skills we’ve developed here – critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication – will be our greatest assets. We learned not just to face challenges but to embrace them, turning every situation into an opportunity for growth. The resilience and flexibility we showed during COVID-19 was testimony to this mindset. We learned that success, even during such challenging times, comes from not just individual effort but also our ability to work as a community. And speaking of community, we have also been saying farewell to departing colleagues, and it was fitting that we said a few words this afternoon at the Staff Summer Reception on the 18th floor. We bid a fond farewell to the following colleagues – Ryan Sajeev, Liam Canny (fixed term), Laura Wakeling, Max Copley, Hannah Ryder, Joan Houston, Dr Lindsay Reed, Dr Jamie Deeny and Richard Milner. We wish them all the best in their future endeavours and a well-deserved retirement for Jamie and Richard, who, between them, have given DLD some 30 years of loyal and dedicated service.

And so, this academic year has drawn to a close, as has my time here at DLD. I am proud to have been part of this unique and vibrant community. As we say our goodbyes, let’s not view this as the end but as a new beginning, a stepping stone to even more extraordinary achievements. Yesterday’s Final Assembly in the Atrium was a moment for our DLD community to come together, reflect on this year, and look ahead at the opportunities next year will provide us. The school will be entering a new chapter when James Kidd takes over the helm in September when he becomes the 12th Principal in DLD’s long and illustrious history. I could not have asked for a better successor, and I know the school will be in capable and safe hands. Messrs Davies, Laing and Dick, who established the school nearly 100 years ago, and who the school is named after, will, I am sure, be proud of all that we have achieved so far – my best wishes to James and the senior team next year.

Looking back, it’s incredible to see how far we have come and how much our beloved College has changed. When I first walked through the doors of DLD nearly seven years ago, I could not have imagined the rich and fulfilling experiences that lay ahead. Together, we have embarked on an educational journey that has been both challenging and rewarding. From the tentative first steps into our classrooms to the confident strides we now take towards our future, each moment has been a building block for our personal and academic development – for both staff and students.

Remarkable achievements have marked our time here. Academically, we have excelled across various subjects, achieving outstanding results in GCSE, A-levels, BTECs, IELTS and the IFP, which have paved the way for many of our community to prestigious universities and promising careers. Our academic departments have been recognised in national competitions, showcasing innovative projects and research. In the arts, our students have shone brightly, with performances and exhibitions that have enriched our community and gained accolades on the broader art scene of London and beyond, underlining DLD’s commitment to nurturing creative talents. Our commitment to community service has seen numerous initiatives, from local outreach programs to national charity events, where DLD students and staff have contributed time and effort to make a significant impact. These efforts have not only helped those in need but have also taught us the value of service and community. In sports, DLD has triumphed in various fixtures, enhancing our reputation as competitors who exhibit both skill and sportsmanship. Our football team, in particular, has brought home trophies that celebrate their hard work and team spirit.

The various changes we have brought in over the years have enhanced the DLD experience and have put us on the educational map, both nationally and internationally – from our innovative approach to pastoral care and the wellbeing centre to the brilliant House system building loyalty and friendship, the ‘Key Stage More’ curriculum changes which see us leading the sector in areas such as curriculum reform, project-based learning and eSports, to our pioneering Year 9s. The new structure of the day, with its emphasis on a holistic all-round education and the development of co-curricular activities, has proved to be beneficial academically and from a mental health perspective. The reinvention of boarding at DLD has had a profound impact on this, which has led us to win ‘Boarding School of the Year’ twice. Leadership development at all levels, too, has seen individuals grow, and it’s exciting to see how they will develop their legacies. These were more than just tasks; they were stepping stones to understanding the world, ourselves and each other.

I want to express my deepest gratitude to everyone who makes DLD such an incredible place. To our teachers and staff. Thank you for your passion and dedication, which drive us all to excel. Your dedication, support, and unwavering commitment have enhanced our learning experience and prepared us for the challenges beyond these walls. To the support staff – admin, finance, marketing, admissions, compliance, HR, reception, facilities, IT, art and science technicians, catering, cleaning and security – your efforts behind the scenes have shaped our educational journey in countless ways. And to our brilliant students, your energy, curiosity, and pursuit of excellence make DLD a vibrant and dynamic place of learning. I thank you for the camaraderie, your authenticity, the unforgettable memories, and the countless lessons we have all learned together.

As we look to the future, I am confident that the foundations we have built here will lead us to new heights. Whether in the classroom, on the sports pitch, in the art studio, or in community service, the future is bright for our community and DLD. Let us strive for excellence, innovate for the future, and lead with integrity. Under James’ expert leadership, DLD will continue to develop the next generation of leaders to take their place in a diverse and challenging world.

I wish all our students the best for the summer ahead, particularly those awaiting public exam results in August. I hope they all have a peaceful and relaxing holiday – they certainly need it! Thank you also to all our parents, Governors, and friends of the school for their continued encouragement, cooperation and support throughout the years from the touchlines. It means a lot to my colleagues but, most importantly, our students. Thank you for making DLD College London a remarkable place to learn, teach, live and grow. DLD will always remain a part of my DNA – thank you for all the memories, and I hope you all stay on TRACK.

They think it’s all over. It is now!

Irfan Latif, Principal