This leading London day and boarding school has a reputation for its flexible approach to teaching GCSEs and A Levels to both international and local students, as well as its innovative approach to urban boarding.
In 2015, DLD moved to its brand new, purpose-built location opposite the Houses of Parliament and it now houses over 500 students. It offers traditional GCSEs, A Levels and the EPQ – and also the International Foundation Programme, BTECs, and Academic Preparation Courses. From 2023, it will offer a new Year 9 curriculum for 13-year-olds.
DLD is a non-selective, co-educational independent boarding (and day) school for students aged 14-19 years, which says its focus is to help individual students reach their potential. It is owned by the private education company Alpha Plus, which owns 20 schools, nurseries and Sixth Form colleges and is one of the largest providers of private education in London.
In 2018, Irfan Latif was appointed Principal having been the Head of Sexey’s School, Bruton, for five years; he had held numerous leadership roles prior to this in the independent sector. He was educated at Emmanuel School, London and King’s College, London with a BSc in Chemistry. Mr Latif believes that DLD offers something unique, having recently won Boarding School of the Year and the Special Judges’ Award for Independent School of the Year in the Independent Schools Awards in 2020,
This school offers flexibility. Students can do GCSEs in one year, 18 months or two years; A Levels can be taken in 18 months or two years. This is excellent for pupils wishing to take fewer subjects, retake (when one year is offered) or 'top up' some examinations that have already been taken.
The choice of GCSEs is small but varied enough, and includes English, maths, biology, chemistry, physics, business, art, and digital Skills (which is internally assessed). There is a larger choice of A Levels – graphic communication, film studies and Russian on offer, plus all the usual subjects. Private tuition is offered for Modern Foreign Languages and the Classics in addition to a subject block if a language of choice is not available.
The BTECs on offer are Business, Digital Media Production and Music Technology. These specialist qualifications are an alternative to A Levels, and the equivalent to either three A Levels or just one A Level depending on the option chosen. They involve a mix of project based assessments, which typically involve employer links, as well as written tests, online assessments and examinations.
The International Foundation Programmes (IFP) are one-year intensive courses, designed as an alternative to A Levels to prepare international students for undergraduate study. All IFPs include specific modules and core skills modules. Core skills modules comprise Essential Mathematics, Personal Development and Academic Skills and research.
The one-year Academic Preparation Course focuses on international students whose English may need improvement. The aim of this course is to give students a solid foundation of academic skills and academic expectations, and to familiarise them with the demands (including pastoral needs) of a UK-based study course.
DLD offers a wide enrichment programme, which includes a new initiative called the DLD Diploma. This involves a written component such as the EPQ or a Research Project, plus two choices from a long list of extras. These include an ABRSM music examinations, with Grade 6 and above gaining UCAS points, Bank of England Challenge, Model UN, Sports ECA, DLD TV, Youth Theatre, Life Drawing and much more. All the usual Sixth Form subjects are offered with a wide array of Modern Foreign Languages, including Russian and Italian.
From September 2023, the College will offer students aged 13 a secondary curriculum that combines the core subjects with topics such as NFTs and cryptocurrency. The College says it will deliver a hybrid of the traditional, including grammar and algebra, with the unconventional.
Taking full advantage of its central London position on the South Bank, the College also includes a weekly Urban School Project in the Year curriculum, where London becomes the classroom. Students will work on cross-curricular projects, getting involved in the community and “actively using everything the capital has to offer, thereby instilling an awareness and interest beyond the conventional.”
Students will then progress through to the existing Year 10 & 11 Key Stage 4 programmes and onto Sixth Form.
The school says:
“The world we live in is becoming increasingly connected, in technology, in business, and in culture. Our Year 9 programme at DLD College London both reflects and prepares students to succeed in the world as it is today, and as it will be tomorrow.
“The curriculum is designed to be a hybrid of the best of traditional and modern learning. Students will develop a solid foundation in language and numeracy skills, whilst the teaching of other subjects blends together and overlaps to reflect the connectivity between academic disciplines and how this is applied in the real world.
DLD encourages sport and, although the choice is not as wide as a traditional boarding school, it makes the most of its London location and offers boxing, archery, badminton, football, circuit training, rock climbing and yoga.
Art is a strong subject at DLD with three art studios, a graphic suite and a photography studio with dark room. Courses cover drawing, painting, printmaking, photographic imagery, 3D construction and mixed media.
All ABRSM examinations are offered, and private musical instrument lessons are encouraged. DLD has two dedicated music rooms equipped with IMACs with Sibelius and Logic software, there is a three-room recording studio complex, and three practice rooms. It also has a 70-seat theatre on site, equipped with a cinema screen.
There is a dedicated teacher in charge of trips and, at weekends, the students can go to galleries, museums and theatres , which are all local to the college. DLD offer a Summer Ball, Christmas Concerts, Art Shows, Graduation ceremonies, Webinars and more.
50% of A Level results were graded A-A* and 75% A*-B, with 100% overall pass rate.
43% of the BTEC Extended Diploma students achieved the equivalent to three A*-A grades at A level. For those studying the one year
BTEC Certificate (equivalent to one A Level), two thirds of grades were at Distinction level.
The International Foundation Programme students achieved a 98% pass rate with almost half achieving a Distinction.
At GCSE, 45% of results were graded 9-7.
These are excellent results for a non-selective school. Most of the students continue to study at universities in London, with 39% continuing to Russell Group Universities.
This campus has 55 classrooms all fitted with touch screens.
DLD has over 200 boarding rooms directly above the college, which is incredibly convenient, especially for London. In fact, it is the only school in London which offers this. It has scooped up numerous prizes for its innovative, 21st Century 'Urban Boarding', which takes care of around 250 boarders. Students are housed in huddles and cared for by huddle houseparents; the boarding induction programme includes talks from the local police about staying in London and a real-life Monopoly challenge to help students find their way around the city; and there is a sleep programme to help students with their sleeping patterns.
All bedrooms have en-suite showers; most are single, but doubles are offered. They are priced by size from Bronze to Platinum. For students over the age of 16 there is a health club, situated in the basement, with a swimming pool, sauna and gymnasium. There are common rooms on every floor and, at weekends, students can congregate in the large Atrium common room, which has ping pong, table football and a large projector screen to watch films.
The college refectory or Global Kitchen is said to serve truly delicious food, included in the fees, and it was opened by celebrity chef Atul Kochar; there is also a campus cafe.
The campus closes for Christmas but otherwise is open all year round.
For domestic admissions at GCSE level, the student needs a report from their current school; for Sixth Form entry there is a minimum requirement of five GCSEs at grade C, including mathematics and English. For international students a minimum requirement of 4.0 points in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) must be achieved for GCSE and up to 6.0 points (for sciences) at ALlevel. All students with an IELTS below 6.5 must attend English classes alongside their chosen courses.
Boarding fees range from £18,900 (twin room) per annum to £29,400 (Platinum en-suite) with laundry service as an extra £920.
Annual tuition fees are £24,670 for domestic students and £31,390 for international students, both varying slightly on length of course.
Non means-tested scholarships are available for academically excellent pupils, for up to 50% of the fees. For UK students, scholarships are also available in music, sport and drama.
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