Logo of Dulwich College

Pupils Info

Gender – Boys School
Age range – Age 7-18
Number of pupils on roll – 1500 Pupils


Average Class Size: 16
Day and Boarding School
Oxbridge Entrance Percentage: 15%
Day: £5,486 – Boarding: £11,396
A* to B at A-Level Percentage: 90%

Dulwich College is run by a super-head, Dr Joseph Spence, and it shows. The school, which will celebrate its 400-year anniversary in 2019, is going from strength to strength. Dulwich has the big three: very strong teaching, amazing grounds and state of the art facilities. More than this though, it is in the very rare position of being a boarding school in London. Though only 128 out of the 1,505 boys board, it is very much run like one of the big country public schools: there are different houses for which you can earn honours; a very smart though slightly archaic uniform and dozens of school traditions. Yet, at the same time, the college also has all the boons of being in the capital; they recruit top class teachers, have students from a huge range of backgrounds and really engage with the city (there is always a coach trundling down the drive to take the boys off on some excursion or other). All these positives add up to brilliant results and a strong record of Oxbridge admission.

Background and Reputation

The best thing about Dulwich is how easily the old and the new sit together, this is illustrated in the school grounds: the beautiful old buildings (which are frequently hired out for films, such as Harry Potter and Tomb Raider) seem to rest comfortably with the addition of new teaching blocks. In the same way, though the history of the place is evident, the school’s manifesto is completely modern. Tough to get into, once in, boys at Dulwich rarely fail to do well. The teachers are both gifted and very committed to school and the boys know this. Though stress is placed upon achievement, whether it be in public exams or the rugby pitch, a Dulwich education goes beyond tangible goals. The school, though large, is very much a community and by the end of their college years, each boy will have come to know the other boys in his class, his teachers and the school very well. Dulwich seems to inspire loyalty among its students, this is reflected not just in each student’s immersion in the college while they are there, but their commitment to the school long after they have left: the Old Alleynian society is almost mafia-esque in its reach and influence.

Academic and Exit Results

Dulwich knows how to get its boys through exams, and stays consistently high in the league tables. The 2013 results bare this out. For A Level, 25.4% of grades were A, 66.1% were A or A and 90.5% were from A* to B. The GCSE results were equally strong, 50.3% were A, 82.5% achieved A to A and 96.9% A* to B with an 100% pass rate. Unsurprisingly this is translated into Oxbridge success, with 15% admission.

Social and Pastoral

There are some very distinct qualities to most Dulwich boys, confidence is undoubtedly one of them: the boys are encouraged to speak out in class and this ability to voice an opinion is continued outside of the classroom too. The school has strong ties with James Allen’s Girls School, so Dulwich doesn’t feel completely single sex; and even the boarders are allowed a London life outside of school. The really great thing though is the diversity of boys who attend the school; it is very tricky to leave Dulwich without picking up friends from lots of completely different backgrounds. Though the school is large, each boy has three adults in charge of their pastoral welfare: their Form Teacher, Head of Year and House Master, which means that very few are allowed to slip through the cracks.

Sport, Art, Music and Drama

Dulwich boys take a lot of exercise; sport, mandatory from years 3 to 13, is very much at the center of school life. There are over 24 different sports on offer, from rugby to croquet, and over 400 fixtures are played a term. The school’s very successful teams are not afraid of travel, they go as far afield as Marlborough and Portsmouth to show that London schools can be just as good as their country rivals. The sheer quantity of the sports played and offered also mean the most boys will represent the school at one time and another. Walking the games pitches of Dulwich is like being transported to the countryside, and their indoor facilities are just as impressive. Taking Art for GCSE or A Level at Dulwich is rather like going to St Martin’s; there are 7 different art studios, including a specially designed IT suit for graphics and installations. The department’s great strength however is that however cutting edge it is, the emphasis remains on the discipline of observation and draftsmanship as the starting point for the boy’s art education. The teaching is consequently planned in stages to aid the development of different skill sets. Unsurprisingly the results achieved the department are consistently outstanding: anything below a B is almost unheard of. One of the best things about music education at Dulwich is how well rounded it is. Boys are not taught just an appreciation of classical western music, but are given a comprehensive grounding in world music and pop too. The taster of music that boys are given in years 7 to 9, when the subject is compulsory, is so compelling that a large number choose to carry it on for GCSE and A Level at which point the momentum really picks up, leading to almost uniformly outstanding results. The quality of the musical education offered is doubtless augmented by the schools Visiting Composer, Cecilia McDowell, who offers individual guidance to the boys taking music as an academic subject. It should come as no surprise that Dulwich, founded in 1619 by the Elizabethan actor, Edward Allyen, and has seen its fair share of thespians pass through. Drama is a big thing, and encompasses the entire school. Their vast custom built theatre sees around 50 productions a year, often with huge casts, composed not just of actors, but set designers and special affect artists too. It consequently seems only natural for many boys to take Theatre Studies as an academic subject for GCSE and A Level, and indeed to carry on with drama after school: there are lots of Alleynians on the stage these days.

Extra Curricular

There is plenty to do at Dulwich outside of the classroom. There are lots of clubs, from the Golf Society that tours the best courses in and around London to the Politics Society, which manages to lure speakers that the Oxford Union would, envy (they recently got old boy Nigel Farage in to talk); the best thing about these groups is that they are generally run by the boys with minimal input from teachers. The school also owns an old school in the Brecon Beacons that is regularly used for school expeditions, as well as a Boat House on the Thames.

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