Students Come First: Student Wellbeing as a Guiding Principle


At the heart of a Dulwich education is our core guiding value, Students Come First. 


Students Come First is about putting students at the centre of every decision we make. It also means that we see them as individuals whose needs, interests, passions and potential are unique. Putting students first means our educators do their best to fit the education to the child – not the other way around.


One key focus for us as we uphold this guiding value is in the area of wellbeing, which spans the dimensions of mental, physical, emotional and social health. Wellbeing is a whole school culture, which ensures that every member of the community can flourish – and it has never been shown to be more important than in the past two years.


Research suggests that a significant factor influencing wellbeing is having a sense of purpose. We aim to nurture this in each of our students by empowering them with student agency: that is, the voice, choice, and ownership over their own learning. This is demonstrated through the trustful relationships that our teachers develop with their students, through the myriad of student leadership opportunities available in each of our schools, and through encouraging students to play an active role in their own learning. In these ways and more, our students develop purposefulness and intentionality at school.


Beyond helping them to find a sense of purpose within their own lives, our vision is for our students to Live Worldwise – to be equipped with the skills and motivation to make a positive difference in the world.


To this end, we provide opportunities for our students to gain meaningful touchpoints with the world around them – especially in the areas of environmental sustainability and global citizenship. From hosting the World Record-breaking Largest Environmental Sustainability Lesson in the world to removing single-use plastics from our schools, our students develop a greater sense of purpose and meaning as they champion the planet's cause.


Unsurprisingly, in developing our students’ wellbeing, we have found a positive correlation with their academic performance. Students across our family of schools have consistently outperformed against the world average in their final IB, A-Level and IGCSE results. By nurturing our students’ sense of ownership over their own learning and helping them to connect to a purpose bigger than themselves, they cultivate intrinsic motivation, a sense of pride in their own work, and an ability to pursue what they are passionate about, allowing them to thrive.

Ultimately, wellbeing is a core area of focus for us as we abide by our core Students Come First value. We are proud to have a robust network of educators who are continually developing best practice in embedding wellbeing into our programme, which is designed to nurture our students into inquisitive, knowledgeable and caring young people who are motivated to succeed.