A central London location, state-of-the-art facilities and staff with advanced ICT knowledge and technological ambition mean that DLD College London is making its mark.
DLD College is putting itself on the map as a modern, aspirational college for 14-19 year olds in the centre of London. “Our contemporary, technologically advanced building opposite Westminster reﬂects our ambition to be the school of choice in London. We have three ﬂoors of cutting-edge classrooms, 15 ﬂoors of safe, secure, homely boarding accommodation, as well as an underground pool and gym. Not only that, we combine computing with the classics to offer a well-rounded, holistic education,” explains Principal Mr Irfan Latif.
The College has applied to be a Microsoft Showcase School, an accreditation that takes two years to achieve and reﬂects advanced ICT knowledge and facilities. The new Digital Hub at the College will explore many different types of learning, including collaborative and ﬂipped learning.
“Technology has disrupted how we go about teaching,” says Mr Latif. “We need to make sure our staff are fully trained and completely embrace technological advances. Engaging staff is vital and our Head of eLearning is instrumental in this – we now have many colleagues who are digital experts in certain applications and areas.”
The pupil body consists of 65-70% international students, who make up the majority of boarders, and 35-40% domestic students, who are mainly day pupils. There’s a full programme for those ho are staying on site, including West End shows, paintballing and football matches, and the scope of what the capital has to offer is taken full advantage of for all students.
“London is our classroom,” says Mr Latif. “We do a number of charity runs at the Olympic Park, enjoy visits to world-class museums and use outstanding facilities in the next door Archbishop’s Park for hockey, football, netball and tennis.” With plans for a musical production at The National Theatre and fixtures against other leading independent London schools in the diary, DLD is already fulfilling its ambitions as a serious contender in the competitive secondary school market.
The highlight of the year for the school community came with graduation day for the sixth formers. “The students wore traditional caps and gowns by Ede & Ravenscroft and walked over Westminster Bridge to the Houses of Parliament where we held our graduation ceremony, the first school in the country to do so. It was a fantastic moment, as well as historical, as tourists and passers by applauded and stopped to congratulate our students.”
The sixth form admissions process involves a formal application, followed by interview and a review of GCSE results.
Classes are small (six to 10) with expert, passionate staff. There is no uniform or traditional structure, the College concentrates on pupil-centred learning to facilitate their interests as best they can. “We are 440 students but intimacy is not lost in our large, modern building. Teachers are called by their first names. Students have the freedom to express themselves within the College and the opportunity to be creative, to be who they are. The recent Summer Ball at the world famous Shakespeare’s Globe, organised by the Student College is just one example of this entrepreneurial and creative spirit. This works well in an international context because we can build British values of respect and tolerance,” explains Mr Latif.
The school has recently introduced a mental health charter. “We have plenty of opportunities, including mental, physical and creative outlets, to release any stress. We talk to and engage with our students, as communication is vital. Our Head of Wellbeing is supported by a well-resourced pastoral team. It’s important to us because we know happy students will succeed in the classroom.”
Despite being at the forefront of technological breakthroughs in education, using this technology wisely is key. “We want to give students skills and knowledge so they understand the importance of pausing and reﬂecting when using tech and social media, that communicating with real people is crucial, and that they get out and about and enjoy what the world has to offer.”
DLD is a big family, where staff work hard and go above and beyond the call of duty for their students; a place where young people jump in feet first to everything and give it a go, whether that be in debating or taking up leadership roles; where diversity is celebrated and where College is seen as a stepping stone to the future. “Our building is a studious and purposeful environment, a place of work, with a Google/Facebook type atmosphere, but there is still plenty of time for fun and an appreciation of all our students’ cultures and beliefs.” It’s an attitude that should fulfl Mr Latif’s ambition very well.