Interview with Headmaster David Ingram

1.    What is the uniqueness of Dulwich? What does Dulwich value most in your education?

Dulwich College London has almost four centuries of history and was established in 1619 by Edward Alleyn, a contemporary of William Shakespeare with clear principles and values by which he wanted his students to live. These included sound learning, strong artistic pursuits and good manners. Dulwich College Shanghai was the first British Independent School to be set up in China, and continues to bring these values through its educational system.

Whilst our academic track record speaks for itself we aim to provide all our students with confidence to develop as well-rounded and confident individuals. At Dulwich, we encourage our students to experience a wide range of activities but to pursue their passions to a higher level.  Whether it is sports, the arts, language, music or science, our teachers are trained to recognize and develop these interests to enable students to grow. Furthermore, our new purpose-built Minhang campus has amazing facilities to provide the best environment for this, including an Olympic sized pool, a 500-seat theatre and black box performance rooms.

2.    What's the aim of Dulwich education? What kind of person are you aiming to shape the children to be?

The education our students need is not the education you or I had as children. The world is changing and by the age of 38, our children may have had 8-10 jobs, be working anywhere in the world, working across multi-cultural teams and using technology that hasn’t even been created yet. At Dulwich, teaching and learning isn’t restricted to content - because this is always changing. We develop our students so they can adapt, seek out information independently and collaborate with others. They learn how to lead, how to take ownership, and how to solve problems. It is these skills that will give our students the best opportunities to lead happy and success lives during their time with us at school, at university, and beyond.

3.    Regarding academics: how did you design the Dulwich curriculum? What kind of materials do you use?

Dulwich International Colleges all follow the English National Curriculum, enhanced and carefully monitored by our Academic Team to meet the needs of our students. Programmes of study are modified to reflect our location in China and the abilities of our high achieving students.  This helps to ensure that the quality of teaching and learning is exceptional, ensuring the high standards we have become known for. A testament to the success of our curriculum - last year, the Dulwich College International Schools group average for IBDP was 37.2 points vs the global average at 30.2 points, and we even saw 5 Dulwich students achieve full marks (45 points). Year on year our students receive university offers to top US Ivy Leagues universities, top UK Russell Group universities like Oxbridge, as well as Hong Kong, Canada and Australia.

4.    Besides study, I have noticed that Dulwich put a lot of efforts on drama, literacy and sports. Am I right? Can you introduce the programs you designed to strengthen all these?

At Dulwich College, these elements are fully integrated into the curriculum and are a strong feature of the day-to-day life of the school.  Co-curricular activities are considered crucial to the long-term vision of producing holistically developed alumni—young adults who are considerate and possess a broad spectrum of interests, talents and hobbies, and are fully prepared for entry to society. All Dulwich College schools have, in keeping with the Dulwich philosophy, led the formation of China-wide inter-school co-curricular activities hosting Mathematics, Science and Sports Olympiads, chess competitions, literary festivals, international choral music festivals, environmental and climate conferences, cross-cultural community activities, and other major sports, music and performing arts events. These provide students with a wealth of memorable experiences and meaningful opportunities to flourish.

5.    Any signature events happen in school every year?

Every Dulwich International College celebrates Founder’s Day; the day that Dulwich College was first opened in London in 1619. It is a momentous day for students, parents and teachers to come together and celebrate with music, drama and dance performances across all age groups.

The MADD Festival (Music, Arts, Drama and Dance) is an annual festival for our Junior School aged children to come together across the network to celebrate and perform in all areas of the arts. We engage leading industry professionals and artists to provide workshops for the students.

Every four years, all Dulwich schools compete together in the Dulwich Olympiad – a high level competition of sports, athletics and music. The next Olympiad will take place at Dulwich London and Dulwich Shanghai students will go there to participate.

6.    During the admission process, what kind of personality traits do you look for in a child?

Dulwich International Colleges are academically selective and given we have fourteen years of experience and a strong alumni track record in Shanghai, this does mean we get our fair share of applications. Our admissions focus for Early Years students is behavioural – we look to see how a child approaches various concepts, how they respond to books and language and creative play, how they interact and engage. For students commencing Junior School, our admissions process is academically driven, designed to test potential and the child’s passion for learning, creative thinking and comprehension across a broad range of concepts. We want to make sure our students thrive and succeed in our schools, so we do meet and interview with every child and every family individually, to understand their fit to our culture.