Academics are important here, and pupils are expected to be engaged in, and take ownership of their educational journey (the head encourages them to identify their personal legacy and what they want to achieve during their time here). There are 11 lessons per day, each 35 minutes long. While many are doubles, maths and coding are only ever single lessons as concentration in these subjects has been shown to be better in short, sharp bursts.
The Year 9 curriculum is interdisciplinary, with three courses embedded in a traditional timetable of subjects (history, maths, English, etc) which take in people and places (sociology, psychology); creative arts (art, drama, graphic design, photography); and digital futures where pupils learn about crypto currency, marketing, media, coding and business. Year 9s also spend Fridays working on the ‘urban schools project’, which is based on the developmental goals laid out by the UN and World Economic Forum as to what the world needs by 2025. This can see them spending the day at Kew Gardens with a botanist, attending a lecture about sustainable set design at the National Theatre or taking a deep dive into character portrayal through costume design at a private tour at the Harry Potter Studios.
The school offers a wealth of GCSEs (which can also be taken as an intensive one-year course) and 21 subjects at A-level. There are also options to study vocational BTEC qualifications in business, performing arts, sports management, creative digital media production and E-sports, which covers everything from online streaming to sports marketing, management and competitive gaming.For international students, there is an Academic Preparation Course – a one-year course that can be taken before GCSEs or A-levels – and the International Foundation Programme, a one-year alternative to A-levels.
Classes have on average 12 pupils which means there’s tons of individual support, including dedicated university advisors. Lots of leavers go on to Russell Group universities, especially those in London such as Imperial, King's College and UCL. Popular international destinations include universities in Switzerland, Italy, the US and Canada.
Pupils head to nearby Archbishop’s Park, which has football and tennis courts, for sport. The school has football, netball and basketball teams. There is also an on-site gym, pool and opportunities to learn rowing for those who are interested. The whole school does weekly PE on a Friday afternoon.
Art is very popular – and the school’s proximity to the capital’s many art galleries is a real draw. There are plenty of talented artists at DLD College London – last year, 98 per cent of art A-level grades were A* to B.
The school day includes a dedicated hour for co-curricular activities each afternoon, with more than 50 different options for students to pick from – from animation and boxing to chemistry Olympiads, public speaking and a ukulele band. The school is keen to deliver a holistic education and encourages pupils to get involved in the arts and sciences beyond the core exam content (plenty of speakers from these fields come in to talk to students).
Years 9 to 11 have a weekly careers lesson with a specialist careers advisor. Work experience is encouraged and partnerships have been established between local institutions, such as St Thomas’ Hospital, so that aspiring medical students can shadow doctors. Community projects including local food banks, Evelina London Children's Hospital (part of St Thomas's) and the Sutton Trust ensure that pupils are not confined to a privileged bubble.
A unique place for young people who like to march to the beat of their own drum, this school has no uniform, everyone is on first-name terms (teachers too) and students have a real voice (they even vetoed the Starbucks coffee stand in the café, choosing to bring in the more sustainable Grumpy Mule instead). Mutual respect and tolerance is at the heart of the community and with London on the doorstep as an extended ‘classroom’, the school feels like it’s breaking the mould for education.
Don’t panic! We have more than ten years’ experience of visiting schools and advising parents, and we are all parents ourselves – we can make this easier for you.