John Taylor joined DLD College London as Director of Boarding in August 2017. Here he answers some of our boarding related questions and offers insight into life at DLD College London:
What are the responsibilities of the Houseparents?
They have many roles, but the primary one is pastoral care. All students are attached to a ‘Huddle’, which is a group of boarders organised by floor, gender and age. Houseparents are responsible for the pastoral care of those in their Huddle, as first port of call for students and parents. It is key that the Houseparents get to know students so they feel able to come and talk whenever they’re having difficulties – and whenever they’re not!
Communication is also incredibly important, and the Houseparents make sure that parents, guardians and agents are kept informed about students regularly, yet informally. We send regular emails to parents to let them know how their sons and daughters are doing, including pictures of what they have been up to. Houseparents also undertake administrative duties to ensure good record-keeping.
How do you help students to feel at home?
This is incredibly important to me. Our boarding house is not like being in a summer camp nor a hotel (though the facilities are hotel quality). I want boarders to feel as ‘at home’ as possible, and for them, this is their home away from home while they are studying with us. Key to this is ensuring top quality pastoral care throughout the boarding team.
We run lots of activities for boarders to enjoy, and so that they can have the best possible experience while they’re with us. These include special occasions such as our International Day, Christmas celebrations, Burns Night, or Chinese New Year events. We also run boarders’ trips most weekends to all kinds of places in and around London, as well as holding in-house activities and special events to encourage students out of their rooms to socialise and get to know one another. We want boarders to be able to safely enjoy all that London has to offer!
In the evenings and at weekends, the College’s atrium is transformed into a social space, with music, movies, sofas and rugs, PlayStation, table tennis, table football etc.
Students returning from the holidays often say to us that they looked forward to coming back; this is exactly what I want to hear.
How do you encourage the students to discover their hidden talents?
Students are encouraged to try new things and to develop their skills. We encourage this in all sorts of ways. Using the last week as an example, we helped a student with leaving at 4am for an archery competition, opened up the music rooms for students wishing to practice, had a boarders’ band rehearsal and put on karaoke on Saturday night because one of the boys wanted to sing (actually, it was Iranian rap!). Students are also involved in organising their own events, and I want to see more of this – it gives students organisational and leadership skills.
We want to encourage students to try something different, so that they can discover what they love and are good at.
What are the services you offer the students?
DLD is unique in that it is liberal but well structured; this means as well as the one-on-one pastoral care and support we also offer a degree of flexibility, generous curfews (with the appropriate safety systems in place) so that students can have the freedom to enjoy London whilst living in a controlled environment.
Many of our boarding rooms offer many amazing views over London, such as Big Ben and other local sights.
Our trips and activities programme is (in my opinion) the best in the education sector. During the Autumn term, trips included concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, the London Jazz Festival, events on South Bank, ice skating, special meals at London restaurants to name just a few. This term, we have trips to the London Zoo, to see Les Miserables, Windsor Castle, and to the unique Backyard Cinema in Camden.
What is unique about DLD College London?
We have top quality academic support, superb pastoral care, class sizes considerably smaller than other schools, and a broad and wide range of extra-curricular activities. This is also the only school in Central London with boarding onsite.
We have robust systems and structures in place to ensure safety of students, while offering a liberal ethos which encourages students to take responsibility and show initiative.
I love the fact that this is such a truly international environment; we have 52 nationalities this year, all living and working together in the same building. There is something incredibly special about this, and it offers students the opportunity to learn so much about other cultures, and about themselves.
Our amazing location means that we can hold all sorts of trips and activities right on our doorstep. Many other schools would have to travel a considerable distance to be able to offer what we can.