Inspectors have a dig at Dulwich

31st January 2003 at 00:00
The alma mater of PG Wodehouse has been told it could do more to challenge its more able pupils. Cherry Canovan reports.

One of Britain's top public schools, with a long and distinguished roll of famous old boys, has been told it must do more to stretch its brightest pupils.

Dulwich College was told by inspectors that "the expectations of pupils are not always high enough and that able pupils are not always sufficiently challenged".

A team from the Independent Schools Inspectorate, which visited late last year, said better planning was needed to provide a greater challenge for the brightest, especially at key stages 3 and 4.

But headteacher Graham Able said that, rather than pushing boys too hard academically in their middle years, the school preferred them to carry on with other activities and peak later on, at A-level.

However, he also said: "Like a lot of all-boys schools, we are very keen to work hard to increase the number of A*s we get in English and humanities."

Overall, the inspectors said the college was "very successful" with no significant weaknesses and strong leadership, very good pastoral care and excellent facilities.

Teaching was praised, with two-thirds rated good or better. The report said: "All teachers in the college have very good subject knowledge and the great majority of lessons are well planned."

The "positive ethos and friendly atmosphere" of the college were also highlighted. Inspectors said it created "an atmosphere of happy and enthusiastic learning".

The school, in south-east London, charges fees of more than pound;9,000 a year for day boys and more than pound;18,000 for boarders.


Dulwich (Detur Gloria Soli Deo, "To God alone be glory given") has many famous old boys, called "Old Alleynians". These include several writers: PG Wodehouse, creator of Jeeves and Wooster; Raymond Chandler, of hard-boiled detective fiction; Michael Ondaatje, winner of Booker Prize for The English Patient; Graham Swift, Booker Prize winner for Last Orders; CS Forester, creator of Horatio Hornblower; and AEW Mason, author of Victorian classic The Four Feathers Alumni in other fields include: Sir Edward George, governor of the Bank of England; Sir Ernest Shackleton, Antarctic explorer; Bob Monkhouse, entertainer; Trevor Bailey, cricketer; and Michael Powell, film-maker, who directed The Red Shoes.

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