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[Brand Story]: Dulwich College Puxi: Inspiring a Generation of Change Makers


There is something special about Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi!

By Paul Lawrence
2022-07-10 12:00:00

  • A Little Background to this BrandStory

    A Little Background to this BrandStory

    When we went down to Dulwich College in Puxi to storyboard this Brand Story, it was right before Shanghai's epic and historic "four-day" (but really two-month) lockdown. Which is PERFECT timing to start work on one of these. (not…really…perfect).

    There is something special about Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi. You might have ideas about what a 400-year-old affiliated international school might be like. Stuffy. Hogwarts-esque. Maybe a tiny bit old-fashioned? We certainly had ideas.

    But what we found was quite different. That history of four centuries has certainly given Dulwich a certain indelible character, but it's also a school that is surprisingly progressive. They have a social fabric that creates a bonded community between parents-students-faculty, and education programs that make you think, "damn, I wish I went to this type of school when I was growing up." We do not jest.

    Students today are coming of age on a world stage and confronting issues unconfined by country borders — issues that manifest from the global to the communal to the personal. While we were there on campus, we heard more than once that "despite Dulwich's reputation for top tier academic performance, it's not all about high grades and test scores." Dulwich does "holistic." Your kids are gonna be given the treatment when it comes to academics for sure, but they are also going to be taught what it means to be kind, how to diagnose problems and solve them (from climate change to business challenges), and how to live in a community. From what we've seen, they truly embody this new type of education, where strong academics are supported by an ethos that creates not only good students but good people who are ready to take on this new world!

  • Tradition, Innovation, Teaching, and Learning

    Tradition, Innovation, Teaching, and Learning

    Opened in August 2016, Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi shares its heritage with the network of international Dulwich schools, tracing back to the original, founded in London in 1619. Their tradition of over 400 years of history has created an institution that values tradition, hard work, and discipline. It has a well-earned reputation in this city and beyond as one of the top schools for academic rigor and achievement. At the same time, however, Dulwich College also champions a forward-thinking, progressive approach to education, seeking to instill the life skills that will enable its students to make a positive impact on the world.

    All this is embodied in the College credo: "Aim High and work hard. Be kind and respectful. Make a difference.”. They achieve these values together as a cohesive community.

    In the picture above, students from all over the world went to Dulwich College London, the original campus, for the 2019 Dulwich Olympiad.

  • Open Hearts, Open Minds: Introducing David Ingram, the Head of College

    Open Hearts, Open Minds: Introducing David Ingram, the Head of College

    Flowing grey robes, a long white beard, an imposing and clearly magical staff standing at the cafeteria's entrance welcoming students to lunch. Gandalf the Grey? Nay! It was Head of College David Ingram. It was book week at Dulwich, and all the staff and students were dressed up as favorite characters from books. David understood the assignment (which, with tremendous regret, we didn’t snap a photo).

    David Ingram: “I'm David Ingram, the founding Head of College at Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi. I joined the Dulwich team in preparation for the founding of the College in 2016 and have been proud to lead the team since then.

    I think the heartbeat of my mantra has always been 'getting better never stops. We want our students to be comfortable with the challenge of our curriculum, but this is as much about developing an open heart and an open mind as it is about doing well in an exam. They are all important, and I encourage our students to be both tenacious and playful with their learning.

    Drawing upon 22 years of leadership experience in some of Asia's leading international schools, I believe in a broad and balanced curriculum that engages, challenges, and inspires students and staff to flourish in their learning and personal development.

    I balance energy and enthusiasm with an unwavering commitment to high standards, adopting a rigorous yet reflective approach to self-evaluation, school improvement, and innovation.”

  • Dulwich College is a Destination School for Academics. Report Cards for 2021

    Dulwich College is a Destination School for Academics. Report Cards for 2021

    When people think of Dulwich, they think of "waiting lists". Good thing they built a second campus in Puxi. Why the waiting lists? Well, the school is known for students having outstanding academic scores.

    Dulwich students undertake an academically rigorous program (really!) and are challenged to achieve ambitious goals. In terms of success measured in stats and test scores, their students have won incredible academic success, surpassing the global average metrics and landing them at the top of the list in Shanghai. Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi IGCSE results for 2021 were incredible: 78% of grades achieved were A* to A; 95% of grades achieved were A* to B, and 100% achieved were A* to C.

    Looking at the results for the Class of 2021, across the Dulwich College International group, their IB students averaged a score of 39.3 points out of a total possible 45, high above the global average of 33.0. One in two students achieved over 40 points, with 14 of their students achieving a perfect score.

  • Moving On to Great Things

    Moving On to Great Things

    Many of you reading this will take for granted just how much life has changed since 2020, especially for students. Remember when you went to school? The play time, the drama, the friends, and relationships. Now imagine that experience being transferred online. That’s a tough break.

    Despite this, against the backdrop of the coronavirus outbreak, Dulwich students rose to the challenge in 2021 to achieve great things despite the increased difficulties in doing so.

    In 2022, Dulwich graduates have received offers from and are headed to a range of world-leading universities, including:

    • Cambridge University
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
    • Princeton University
    • London School of Economics
    • Duke University
    • University of Pennsylvania
    • Tsinghua University
    • Berklee College of Music

    Some of their already declared majors include a diversity of subjects like psychology, international business, medicine, opera, social work, history, acting, politics and international relations, biochemistry, marine biology, pharmacy, and many more.

    Pictured above...the Senior School gets really involved in each year’s annual theatre production. This is a colorful rendition of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

  • Dulwich College has little DUCKS!

    Dulwich College has little DUCKS!

    Dulwich's first academic program by age group is called DUCKS (Dulwich College Kindergarten - ages 2-7). You probably thought we were talking about waterfowl?

    The DUCKS curriculum is based on the English Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum, but it is their carefully crafted learning environments, expert Early Years practitioners and community approach to developing trusting relationships with families that makes sure each student reaches their full potential. In a nutshell, they follow the principal of “it takes a village to raise a child”.

    Now, why would DUCKS be interesting for you, Mom / Dad? The program is DUAL LANGUAGE, English and Chinese. Your little duck learns in both languages and will acquire fluency in both by Year 2 while remaining secure in their native language. This sets the foundation for their strong Mandarin program through later academic stages all the way up to IB.

  • Teacher Support: A Bespoke Relationship

    Teacher Support: A Bespoke Relationship

    During our campus tour, we got hammered with one point of distinction at Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi… their student-teacher ratio means that each student is privileged with a relationship with teachers that is founded upon deep trust, and powerful engagement with individual student needs. Let’s be fancy and use the word “bespoke” because they pride themselves on individualized pathways for each student to realize success.

    One of the key bits of feedback from students at Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi is the assertion: “My teacher knows me. My teacher really gets me.”

    Above, here's the handsome Mr. Chappell giving 1:1 guidance to his student; a familiar sight in their classrooms. Hello Mr. Chappell! Looks like an interesting book you got there!

  • They Make CUSTOM Classes for Students

    They Make CUSTOM Classes for Students

    Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi’s campus is massive. Even their classrooms are huge. But what we saw were teachers that knew every kid’s name in their class,

    One of the perks of being a newer international school in Shanghai is that you get student-teacher ratios that are both rare to find and highly coveted.

    Dulwich teachers are responsible for understanding the needs of the individual student and are focused on achieving success for that student on their unique path.

    Classes are typically 15-20 students up to Senior School. IGCSE and IB classes tend to be smaller due to the wide range of options provided for each student.

    Now, this is awesome. On our tour, we saw classes with just 1 or 2 students (!!!). We asked what this was all about. Our guides informed us that Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi works hard to offer the course pathways students require even if it means smaller classes. They even try to create elective classes to support students' individual interests. Supporting student choices and ensuring the school provides the subjects students desire. Did your school do that?!

    Above, from Year 7, Sean is reciting poetry for... Poetry Week. Sylvia Plath? Edgar Allen Poe? Nah... probably Lord Alfred Tennyson.

  • Student Stories: Start-Up Media Mogul, Curtis

    Student Stories: Start-Up Media Mogul, Curtis

    At Dulwich, each child student is encouraged to experience the world according to their passions and skills -- while aiming high and working hard, of course. The Puxi Campus of Dulwich College has a budding media mogul, so… being the media that we are, SmartShanghai had a little chit-chat with Curtis. Above, we see Curtis doing a presentation prior to receiving his Duke of Edinburgh Award. Nice job, Curtis; give us some words boss...

    Curtis: "My name is Curtis, and I’m a Year 12, almost Year 13, student at Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi. I am from England and currently doing my International Baccalaureate (IB). For my standard-level subjects, I am studying Mathematics, Biology, and Spanish. For higher level, I study English language, Theatre, and Business.

    For the academic year of 2021-2022, I have had to opportunity to be the Marketing and Communications intern, which entails learning about communications concepts and helping to develop content that shares students' voices. This year I have written several WeChat articles for the school covering school events such as the Duke of Edinburgh International Award. Through this role, I have also been able to start up a new student podcast where I have interviewed rapper-poet Mark Grist, as well as other staff members and students, to promote our student voice within the College. This internship has aided in my studies, as one of the main reasons I went for the role was the link it has to Business studies. I am able to work closely with our Director of Marketing and Communications, Mr. Matthews, and learn some insight into how marketing practices are implemented. Through this role, I have also developed my writing skills for English, needing to understand the correct format and register I should use for different article topics.

    I would say that as a school, we do live and breathe our values of “aiming high, working hard, being kind and respectful, and making a difference.” Staff listen to our student's voices and constantly adapt the school to benefit us.

    My favorite thing about the school is how I am able to be not afraid to truly be myself, even if it means we stand out from others. Our warm and welcoming community builds a sense of trust and respect between students, teachers, staff, and parents solidifying our small Dulwich Puxi family.”

  • Student Stories:  Mandarin Pro, Jemima

    Student Stories: Mandarin Pro, Jemima

    One great aspect that sets Dulwich apart and really centralizes it in the community is their stellar Mandarin program - 62% of students have achieved top scores in IB Mandarin.

    Their students range from complete beginners to those with fully age-appropriate native-language literacy skills. We wanted to see what this achievement looks like in real life, so Dulwich introduced us to Jemima.

    Jemima: "My name is Jemima and I’m in the first year of my IB Diploma. I’m a classic third culture kid. My father is British, my mother is Malaysian. I was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Singapore before moving to Shanghai. I am proud of my heritage and embrace both cultures and traditions. Through my time at Dulwich and the IB Diploma, I am defining my own identity.

    I was recently awarded the Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards High Achievement Award for Mandarin as a Foreign Language, earning the highest marks in all of Asia. I was really pleased with my IGCSE results, and I am grateful for the guidance and support I received from all of my teachers. Examinations are stressful, but we were well prepared, and it was worth the hard work.

    The Mandarin program at Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi is tailored to individual needs. Our teachers are encouraging but have high expectations, and we are expected to work hard. Chinese language and culture are big features of campus life, and I always enjoy the Mid Autumn Festival and Chinese New Year celebrations.

    Our teachers really know us well, and that makes a big difference. They challenge us, but they are there to provide support as well. The enrichment program is great.”

  • Service, Sustainability, and Living “Worldwise”

    Service, Sustainability, and Living “Worldwise”

    Above, Mr. Saunders (their Global Citizenship Champion) is giving a talk at an EcoCamp. It's an annual event founded in Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi and attended now by schools from the Dulwich group. They sleep at school for two nights and do events based on themes relating to the environment. In this particular one, they were talking about environmental issues surrounding Antarctica.

    Dulwich College seems to create an environment where students are encouraged to take actual action, every day, to build a better world. The idea is that when they leave school, they depart with the mindset to create ongoing, positive change in the world.

    Through a range of service and sustainability programs and initiatives within the different spheres of the community, from the classroom and campus to the world at large, students are shown to have the power to create change.

    They show their connectedness with the world and how they can contribute as community members, living, as the school says, ‘worldwise.’

  • Positive Impacts in Shanghai and Beyond

    Positive Impacts in Shanghai and Beyond

    In Shanghai, Dulwich students work with HandsOn Shanghai for beach cleanup days, Shanghai Roots and Shoots for their Million Tree Project, the Shanghai Young Bakers charity program, Green Initiatives, on projects dealing with recycling and upcycling tech, e-waste, and textiles, and more. They’ve also partnered with the United World Schools program, committed to annually funding the £8,000GBP running costs of Veal Reyoung school in rural Cambodia, and also annually support students at the Maqiao Migrant School. Their work in this city has not gone unnoticed. This year they received the Sustainability Impact award in the Australia and New Zealand Community Awards and the Diversity and Inclusion Award in the British Schools Awards.

    Dulwich students often lead these initiatives themselves in cooperation with their teachers. Last year the senior school students developed their own social enterprise, Dulwich EcoShop, and hand-made soaps and candles and sold them at events to raise money for the Veal Reyoung school. The students led their own disco, where proceeds also went to the Veal Reyoung School.

    This year, they have just launched a new partnership with a group called Elevated Honey in Yunnan. They have funded the building of many apiaries, which are used to create honey from the local Asian honeybee. This will be an ongoing project where each year, the Elevated Honey team will contribute towards the Year 6 and 7 curriculums, and students will learn about social enterprises and the environment. This is a big new partnership and one we will surely hear more about in the coming months and years.

    Pictured above, Dulwich students went with HandsOn Shanghai to pick up trash. Done on a weekend, all in their spare time. Around 50 people went, with a mix of students, teachers, and parents.

  • Parent Stories: Coco, Friend of Dulwich Through Thick and Thin

    Parent Stories: Coco, Friend of Dulwich Through Thick and Thin

    One of the special things about Dulwich is how families have come together as a community to create a warm and welcoming environment, with a contagious spirit of positivity and openness. The events calendar for Dulwich families includes family social activities, charity events, concerts, galas, theater performances, and more. Recent examples are Founder’s Day and Winter Ball, two big events that are all about getting together, having a blast, and raising money for charity. Family and community are big things at Dulwich. We asked a parent (Coco) for some gossip.

    Coco: ”I’m originally from Chengdu, Sichuan, but lived and studied in America for university. We joined Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi in 2018 as we were looking for an international school that for our boys that matched our values. I have been involved in the parent-teacher association, the Friends of Dulwich, for a few years, and last year I was nominated to be the Chairperson. This academic year I have been undertaking this role and have found it really rewarding to give back to the community.

    We have a truly warm and caring community at Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi.

    An example of the strength of our community is the care packages that were sent out by parents to the teachers and staff at the school . Recently, as the COVID-19 situation developed in Shanghai, the parent body initiated a fundraising drive and quickly pulled together resources to create a series of care packs. They were quickly delivered to all the staff members. Parents deeply care about our teachers because we all know how hard they’ve worked to create a good online learning experience for our children.

    We ended up creating and delivering four different care packages to every member of staff in the school community, which I hope has helped them get through these lockdowns better and has shown how much the parents in the community care about the teachers and staff who look after our children.

    I love being part of this community. The school really listens to our feedback, and I feel like we are working closely together to make the school better and better each year.”

    Pictured above, Coco and fam are taking a quick photo at the Winter Ball to raise money for the school in Cambodia that Dulwich supports.

  • Holistic Learning Online and Internationally

    Holistic Learning Online and Internationally

    COVID 19 closed schools in Shanghai for a time. They all had to adapt.

    But there’s something unique about Dulwich and online learning. Dulwich is part of an international family of schools and can connect students across digital campuses beyond borders.

    The network of Dulwich Colleges around the world is able to connect online, which makes for big attendance large events like their Student Leadership Conference, MADD (Music, Art, Dance, and Drama) Festival, the Dulwich Shakespeare Festival  run by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), the Diversity Art series and many more.

    Mark Grist, a poetry battle rapper joins Dulwich for the 3rd time, doing a workshop with students on writing poetry. Some of the student poetry created during the workshop went on to be published in a poetry anthology.

  • Healthy Minds, Healthy Voices: Natasha Dennis, Well Families and Student Services Coordinator

    Healthy Minds, Healthy Voices: Natasha Dennis, Well Families and Student Services Coordinator

    For any of you who have been reading SmartShanghai for more than a minute, you’ll know that hardly anything shocks or surprises us. We’ve seen too much. Well Dulwich shocked us.

    We were introduced to their wellness philosophy, which has as part of its core diversity, equity, and inclusion. We won’t go into detail, but when you go on a campus tour, ask about it. It impressed us! To talk more about how Dulwich tends to the wellness of students, we had a chit-chat with Natasha Dennis (Natasha Dennis, the Well Families, and Student Services Coordinator) because, ultimately, she's all about making sure that every single child thrives.

    Natasha Dennis: "My name is Natasha Dennis, and I am the Well Families and Student Services Coordinator at Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi. I am originally from Blackburn, which is in the northwest of England. I moved here in August 2020 with my husband, Billy, and my son, Freddie, who was only one year old at the time. I have been at the school for nearly two years now, and my fantastic role allows me to work with our students, staff, and parents, which is truly an honor.

    Mental health and wellbeing is an ever-growing focus of schools, both from a professional and parental perspective. Good mental health during childhood is fundamental to a child’s development and for reaching one’s own full potential. Research shows that children and young people are experiencing more social, emotional, and mental health issues than ever before. At Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi, we are lucky to have a social and emotional counselor who can guide and coach our students, as well as pastoral teams for each school that meet weekly. Our Wellbeing curriculum is also a key opportunity to talk to students about wellbeing, mental health, and age-appropriate concerns. This is a key opportunity for students to have a voice and to receive advice on useful strategies they can utilize in their lives to support their mental health.

    Our school is a unique and warm community in which every child is seen and known for their specific skills and interests – one of the true privileges of working in a small educational community – and our House System provides a further level of support, belonging, and mentoring to help the student feel safe, to feel a friend, and to be recognized.”


  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

    Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

    Diversity, equity and inclusion are core to Dulwich’s educational ethos. There’s a reason why they won the British Schools Awards Diversity and Inclusion Award. They believe that diversity and inclusion starts with every child have a strong sense of belonging, and their own identity. Every child is unique, with their own family background and their own personal journey. The team at Dulwich believe that it is their responsibility to help nurture each student in their care to becoming the best version of themselves.

  • A Community of Shared Values: Wonnie Sayama, Director of Admissions

    A Community of Shared Values: Wonnie Sayama, Director of Admissions

    Applicants to Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi must satisfy the international school admissions criteria set by SMEC (Shanghai Municipal Education Committee). You can find these requirements right here. Dulwich puts a lot of effort into onboarding a new family and integrating them into the Dulwich community. Now we can’t talk about Dulwich College Puxi without talking to Wonnie Sayama (pictured above). As one of the founding staff members she's kind of part of the fabric of the school. And as Director of Admissions, if you join the school, you are bound to meet her. We caught up for a little chat.

    Wonnie Sayama: ”My name is Wonnie Sayama. I am originally from Hong Kong. My husband and I moved to Shanghai 15 years ago and we have our two daughters who were born and raised here. I am the Director of Admissions here in Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi and I joined the team in 2016 as a founding member of staff. Our team assist prospective families and students throughout the admissions process so that we can help them to make informed decisions about the education opportunities here in Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi.

    We are an academically selective school. This means that all applicants must meet certain academic criteria to ensure they are able to access our rigorous curriculum and be successful.

    However, we strongly believe that the most important criteria for any family thinking of applying is to ensure they share and buy into College values; Aim High, Work Hard, Be Kind and Respectful, Make a Difference. We expect our whole community, including our staff, students and parents, to role-model and promote these values. In addition, we are seeking families who will make a positive contribution to the community, and students who will take full advantage of the wide range of opportunities available to them during their time at the College.”

  • Take the Virtual Tour: Green Spaces and Great Facilities

    Take the Virtual Tour: Green Spaces and Great Facilities

    Listen. Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi's campus is gorgeous. It's one of the newest international schools in the city, but despite its modernity, it still manages to pull off a stately dignity, as any school with a 400-year tradition should have. 

    While we’ve visited the campus several times and highly recommend anyone interested in the school does so too, with COVID-19 regulations sometimes restricting access, anyone can take their own personal tour using their new virtual tour system right here.

    Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi opened in 2016 and is set on a 40,000-square-meter, bright, open, and green campus in South Minhang on the Puxi side of Shanghai. Against an up-and-coming suburban backdrop, learning spaces sprawl out from airy, light-filled, and spacious classrooms into leafy garden settings for idyllic outdoor recreation and sport.  Top-notch, state-of-the-art facilities for athletic and arty endeavors include a 50-meter Olympic-sized swimming pool, which students swim in weekly, all-grass soccer and rugby fields, and a 2000-square-meter, fully air-filtered, triple gymnasium. 

    Students and families partake of elaborate and involved theatrical performances and music concerts in a 500-seat theater. Blackbox theatre spaces, orchestra room, and outdoor amphitheater space are also present for practice and performance.  Embracing new media arts and technologies, Dulwich Puxi offers a film studio, editing suite, green room, IT and science labs, robotics and Lego spaces, and two libraries.

  • Contact Information

    Contact Information

    Has this Brand Story piqued your interest in this great school? Well, SmartShanghai gets you top-level access. Get in touch directly with Wonnie their Director of Admissions. You can reach through their admissions here

    Or call at +86 21 3329 9310 or email

    Tell them you saw this Brand Story and that you loved it! ;-)

  • The Wizard of Dulwich Puxi

    The Wizard of Dulwich Puxi

    Just kidding, we did get a photo of Head of College David dressed as Gandalf the Grey. Or… maybe this isn’t a costume at all? Wizard attire should be normalized, in our opinion. 

    Visit Dulwich, and check out the magic for yourself.