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Dwight School London (Upper School) Review

With less than 400 students, Dwight School has become the IB school of choice for a small but high-achieving number of expats living in north London and local families with an international outlook.
At a glance
School type
Private
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Good
Curricula taught
Availability 2020/21
No data
Availability 2021/22
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 21,000
Annual fees
GBP 20,010 - 23,280
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
1885
School year
Jul to Sep
Principal
Mrs Alison Cobbin
Owner
Dwight School
Community
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Dwight School London (Upper School)
School type
Private
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Good
Curricula taught
Availability 2020/21
No data
Availability 2021/22
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 21,000
Annual fees
GBP 20,010 - 23,280
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
1885
School year
Jul to Sep
Principal
Mrs Alison Cobbin
Owner
Dwight School
Community
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With less than 400 students, Dwight School has become the IB school of choice for a small but high-achieving number of expats living in north London and local families with an international outlook.

Dwight School is a small all-through day school in north London, offering an IB education with plenty of global engagement. With a small, friendly community of 360 students, it is one of just a few private schools in the UK to deliver the full suite of IB programmes – the Primary Years Programme (IBPYP), the Middle Years Programme (IBMYP), and the IB Diploma.

There’s an ever-changing mix of nationalities here, and Dwight is international in its outlook through and through. Teachers at the school are from more 20 countries, with the largest group coming from North America. There are around 160 students in the Lower School and 200 in the Upper School, with around 50% coming from overseas. According to ISI inspectors, “all abilities and many nationalities are successfully educated” here.

As a member of the Dwight global family of schools – which has campuses in New York, Dubai, Shanghai, and Seoul – it makes full use of its global connections. There’s an annual Dwight Global Leaders programme, for example, that brings together selected students from all campuses for leadership training, and there are exchange trips with its sister school in New York.

Each Dwight School shares the same commitment to 'igniting the spark of genius' in every child, a common thread that runs across all schools; this may be offering them mentorships with a leader in a particular field or delivering one-on-one tutorials. The school’s small class sizes of 20 or less also helps to deliver a higher degree of personalised learning.

Typical of any good independent school in the UK, Dwight has an active house system, provides a wide range of educational visits and after-school activities, and offers strong pastoral care. Don’t look to Dwight for the heritage (or historic buildings) of a typically British private school. Instead, it celebrates its truly international community; for example, Spirit Week is a long-standing Dwight School tradition that sees all students worldwide break for a week-long programme of activities “to boost morale.”

The Dwight family of schools

Dwight School
Dwight School Dubai

Founded in 1872 in New York, Dwight is a leading international IB World School with campuses on three continents. The school was founded in 1872 by Julius Sachs as part of the Sachs Collegiate Institute; Dwight School was first known as "The Sachs School" and has been evolving through mergers and acquisitions New York style ever since.

Dwight School in New York is now owned by the Spahn family, who have worked with the school for 50 years. Alumni of Dwight schools internationally includes: John Williams, Truman Capote, Vin Diesel, Michael Mansfield QC, Ray Davies CBE, and a “who’s who” of figures from politics, the Performing Arts, business, sports, and the Sciences worldwide.

Blake Spahn, vice chancellor of the group of Dwight Schools, has committed to an open-door policy for Dubai's students into its sister schools:

"When you are admitted to one Dwight school, you are admitted to them all.” Students moving to countries with Dwight schools will be "admitted immediately" and should there be no places available, existing students will be placed at the top of the waiting list. This is not the norm for branded schools.”

Dwight was rated Good in its most recently available ISI Educational Quality report (2014).

The curriculum

Dwight is one of a handful of schools worldwide to offer all four IB programmes, starting with the Primary Years Programme in KG and moving through the Middle Years Programme, prior to offering the IB Diploma Programme in Grades 11 and 12. Dwight is organised into Early Years for Pre-K to KG2, Primary Years Programme for Grades 1 to 5, Middle Years Programme for Grades 6 to 10, and the IBDP for Grades 11 and 12.

Although each programme has a standalone framework and curriculum, this school does give students the chance to access a seamless education from 4 through to 17 years. This means that Dwight students can reap the benefits of an all-through school: a stable environment for children, no transition from primary to secondary to sixth form; primary students have access to young role models; and secondary students have the responsibility of mentoring younger students.

Core subjects in the PYP are mathematics, science, literacy, social studies, the arts, physical education, and language (Arabic, French, and Mandarin); there are specialist teachers in foreign languages, sport, and music in the lower school.

The MYP curriculum requires mastery of eight subjects: Language and Literature, Language Acquisition (Arabic plus choice of French, Mandarin, Spanish, or German), Individuals and Societies, Sciences, Mathematics, Physical and Health Education, Design, Arts, and Islamic Studies. The MYP is taught by specialist staff in all subjects. Students in Grades 6 – 10 are encouraged to engage in meaningful community service, participate in physical activities, and explore their creativity. Dwight School London believes that these are important components of an IB education and personal development.

The MYP culminates with the submission of a Personal Project in Grade 10, an independent, eight-month long assignment that showcases the skills that students have developed throughout the five years of their MYP studies.

The IBDP continues a broad and balanced learning approach to subjects: students need to successfully complete six subjects (three at higher level and three at standard level), which must include a language and a science. In keeping with the school’s mission and the IB curriculum, there is a CAS (Creativity, Action, and Service) requirement for all students in Grades 11 and 12, as well as Theory Of Knowledge and the Extended Essay. For international students, Dwight offers a strong section of mother-tongue classes within the curriculum in the Middle Years and Diploma Programmes, including Japanese, Turkish, Spanish, and Mandarin.

Students who may find the IB Diploma Programme too demanding can opt to study for the Dwight High School Diploma, earning IB course certificates rather than the full IB diploma.

Sport and the arts

As you’d expect from an IB school, there is plenty of action outside the classroom, including the school’s own radio station. The school runs optional WOW lessons for lower school students within the school day, as varied as first aid, bike and road safety, and magic. According to the school’s ISI inspection in 2014, parents criticised the range of weekly extra-curricular activities. However, the school does now seem to be offering a wider range of after-school activities across different subject areas (sports, arts, music, STEAM, etc.) with a selection of free and paid activities. The school’s approach to co-curricular activities is one that builds on learning covered in the school’s curriculum; for example, the Dwight Scientists Club was created to raise the profile of science in the school.

The arts are described as integral to a Dwight education. Beginning in Preschool with exposure to the fundamentals, and continuing through to Grade 12 with deeper learning in history, theory, and technique, students are exposed to the arts and learn to appreciate them from a global perspective. Opportunities to develop students’ talents and express themselves are provided through music, theatre, dance, and the visual arts. A popular feature in the arts programme here is Film School, a club that runs over three terms and sees students develop a script, shoot the film, and then premiere it at a prominent London cinema.

A particular benefit of the connection across the Dwight Schools is the opportunity for students to perform on campus and at leading global venues alongside their peers. One tradition is the annual choir festival, held in London; another is a concert at Carnegie Hall in New York.

Sports and healthy lifestyles are a further focus of the school. Students learn the importance of exercising for a lifetime from a young age, with a strong PE programme that includes football, basketball, netball, floor hockey, cricket, tennis, and badminton. Students use both on-campus facilities including playing fields and tennis courts, as well as local sports facilities. And healthy lifestyles are promoted with the support of school counsellors, a student well-being committee, and student council members.

The World at Your Feet programme offers co-curricular opportunities to students to participate in exchanges, collaborations, and study abroad activities that include other schools in the Dwight network. Students at Dwight School London also have the chance to host their peers from Dwight schools in shared activities and cultural visits.

International trips are offered in upper school for students in Grades 7 and up. Through the Global Dwight Network, students have the opportunity to travel to other campuses in New York, Shanghai, Seoul, and Dubai. Examples of trips are Dwight Network Music Choral, Model United Nations conference, Global Issues Network Conference, and the Dwight Network Ski trip.

Academic results

Average score Pass rate Highest score Top scorers 40 points plus
37.8 96% 45 4  

In 2021, Dwight School’s average IB point score was 37.8 (it was 35.3 in 2020 and 33 in 2019), and a pass rate of 96%.  This exceeded the world average of 32.99 but is lower than the top-scoring schools in the UK. However, this is a non-selective school with a high number of students who have English as a second language.

Students graduating from Dwight School London go on to universities in the UK and the US, with smaller numbers accepting offers in Japan and Europe. They are offered the expertise of Dwight New York’s college guidance counsellor if applying to any North American universities.

Campus and facilities

Dwight School London is a school of two halves – the lower school on the Spahn Campus in Woodside Avenue and the upper school on the Jubilee Campus in Friern Barnet Lane. Both campuses are modern, compact and with limited outdoor facilities; unable to compete with the grandeur and heritage of many much larger UK private schools, Dwight may look very understated and uninspiring. However, both campuses have recently been refurbished and they are both clean, well-lit, and welcoming.

Admissions and fees

Annual tuition fees here are mid-range for an IB school in the UK, but slightly less than many private schools in London. Fees start at £16,500 for Reception through to £17,250 for Years 1 - 2, £18,060 for Years 3 - 6, £20,010 for Years 7 - 11, and £23,280 for Years 12 - 13. There is a one-time Capital Development Fee of £2,100 to pay as well, which is far less common in UK schools.

Dwight offers a Spark of Genius means-tested scholarship for new applicants joining the IB Middle Years Programme (Year 7) or the IB Diploma Programme (Year 12).

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