Since 1619, Dulwich College in South London has been developing its reputation for educating British children. And for the last 15 years, Dulwich College International has been exporting that education to Asian cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, and, since 2010, Seoul.
With 650 students nestled just south of the Han River in the Seocho district of the capital of South Korea, Dulwich College Seoul brings the best in education to students of over forty different nationalities. “One of the greatest features of British independent education is the breadth of it. There is an expectation that everybody does sport, and everybody does the arts, and everybody swims every week,” explains Graeme Salt, the headmaster of Dulwich College Seoul. “We’re trying to pack in the highest quality in the limited footprint of this magnificent location.”
The school spares no expense when it comes to educating its students, and the effort has paid off. “We had a student who got to Oxford University in the first year, which was quite a coup for us,” says Graeme. “He had been with us for 6 of the 7 years. Obviously it was wonderful for him, and it was wonderful for us too to be able to say to the parental body of the community that this form of education can work.” Dulwich College Seoul is recognized as a British School Overseas and accredited by the Council of International Schools and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. It also has Cambridge International Examination accreditation and the status of International Baccalaureate World School. The school prides itself in fostering intellectual curiosity in its students from kindergarten age, and producing graduates from the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in school years 12 and 13, which is the standard British system.
The facilities of the school are second to none. The Headmaster worries sometimes that the campus is a little small for all they want to do, but that “We can access facilities in Gangnam, in Banpo, and the river provides other outlets. So we are blessed by a very, very attractive location.” Despite that, the campus does manage to fit an all-weather sports field, a futsal astro court, an indoor gymnasium, a 25-meter indoor swimming pool, a 250-seat auditorium, performance rooms, music rooms, two fully stocked libraries, science laboratories, a food technology room, art and design workshops, and a kiln into its campus. There is also a coffee shop, but strictly for parents and teachers. Also, the coffee is free, because Seoul bureaucracy forbids charging for it.
The school is not alone, but relies on a network of its sister institutions, and the original campus in London. “The group prides itself in having a consistent ethos, structures, curriculum, across its schools,” explains Headmaster Salt. “There’s a consistent network, and students coming to us from other schools in the network.” He explains that the families of these students may have to leave Seoul and find themselves in one of the other business centers of Asia. The school is designed to give as seamless of a transition as possible to these students.
Headmaster Graeme Salt feels as though this branch of Dulwich College has firmly established itself after 7 years, and he is looking towards the future. “We started with a big refurbishment of the campus last summer to take it forward into the next stage, which is to focus on raising the quality across the board, really,” he explains. “I would love it to be much greener on campus... make it really obvious when people come on to the campus that this is a green space.”