Dulwich Political week is a whole school free-learning week which exposes all students at the College, of all ages, to Politics, and political issues. The aim of the week is to encourage our students to be thoughtful, informed, and active citizens. Many OAs have gone into the world of Politics, journalism and academia related to these fields. In a time of such political uncertainty, we want our students to be able to make sense of the World around them, and have the confidence to go out and make a difference. In addition to the assemblies and whole year group events that all students will attend during the week, students are encouraged to have their say, through debating competitions, giving speeches at a ‘Speakers Corner’, contributions to the suggestion boards for what Brexit and the Budget should look like, a school wide daily vote on issues from prisoner incarceration to nuclear weapons, and much more.
Dulwich Political week started with a bang today as all boys in the Junior and Senior Schools had assemblies on topics ranging from refugees, to Superpowers and Soviet composers. When asked to vote on today’s question ‘Will boys only schools exist 20 years from now?’ over eighty percent of students and staff voted ‘yes’. Year 9 boys enjoyed a workshop lead by the team from the charity Economy, who led the students as they put together a model our economic system works and discussed how politicians can influence the distribution of resources in our society. The highlight of the day was actor Pip Utton, who stole the show with his thought provoking performances as both Winton Churchill and Adolf Hitler, enjoyed by boys from across the age ranges.
Students in the Junior School began the day with a thought provoking assembly on refugees, and what home means. Year 10 boys were asked to challenge the status quo of society during their Showcase event, with speakers from The Advocacy Academy and Amnesty International showing our students just what a different People Power can make. Lunchtime events ranged from Lionel Barber OA giving an insight into how the Westminster works, to Lower School boys debating the merits of lowering the voting age. After school The Fawcett Society led a brilliant workshop with DC boys and JAGS girls on suffragist history and contemporary Women’s issues. The day ended with an exception lecture-concert on The Politics of Music and the Role of the Composer. Dr Cameron Pyke provided a historical perspective into what it was like for Shostakovich and Prokofiev to compose in the Soviet Union, before outstanding performances from the DC Piano Quintet, a Piano Sonata by Luis Pares, and a joint DC-JAGS Chamber Orchestra performance with some 56 performers, conducted by Lesley Larkum.
The third day of Dulwich Political week saw some Year 11 boys giving compelling speeches on a range of political issues at Speaker’s Corner before the whole year group were treated to an outstanding talk on How Social Media is Changing the Nature of News and Politics by James Carson, Head of Social Media at The Telegraph. Mr O’Siochru gave a compelling talk on Machiavelli in the second of the part lecture series on Political Philosophy but the day will be remembered for its performing Arts. Dr Croally, Mr Ratnasabapathy & co performed an incredible montage of Political Rock Music in the Auditorium at lunchtime, Mrs Kelly and her band gave an evening performance to be remembered in the Old Library as they recited some memorable politically inspired rock and folk music songs, while A level Politics students attended a play on Young Marx in the West End.
Highlights from the fourth day of Dulwich Political week include the Year 12 boys being treated to a wonderful Question Time event chaired by the BBC’s own Justin Webb. In relaxed yet combative atmosphere students were exposed to the political fault lines in UK politics as Richard Angell of the centrist Labour pressure group Progress clashed with Tory peer Lord Robin Butler, while the Lib Dem’s Gail Kent and Conservative Siobhan Baillie more than held their own. In the Auditorium at lunchtime Angus Hanton and Beth Jenkinson from the Intergenerational Foundation laid down the gauntlet to the assembled younger voters asking them to do more than just tweet their dissatisfaction in order to address the economic plight of young people. Lower School boys learned about how sports teams were selected in Apartheid South Africa and Professor Anna Jackman gave a compelling lecture on Drone warfare after school. The evening saw attention move to the Edward Alleyn Theatre for the Politically Themed Middle School House Drama competition. Grenville emerged victorious with a thrilling ensemble play, which included sophisticated treatment of provocative subject matter in their excerpt from Black Watch.
The final day of Dulwich Political saw girls from JAGS triumph in the final of the week long inter-school Politically themed French debating competition. Mr Davidson drew a large crowd for his lunchtime talk on the great age of migration, while Professor Dwayne Heard from Leeds University gave talk to students from schools across South London on his research into climate change, and the political challenges involved in coordinated global action. This was followed by a seminar with DC boys and students from partnership schools. Other events included a discussion on what fairness means according to Rawls at the meeting of the Philosophy circle. The Master rounded off the week with a standing room only affair in the Master’s Library, with the concluding talk of the three-part lecture series on Political Philosophy. Student and staff not only learned about the ideas of John Stuart Mill, but were challenged to be brave enough to debate ideas openly, and resist the ‘safe space’ culture while acknowledging that the ‘harm principle’ needs to be recognised. Students cast their final votes of the week and took their final chance to have their say on Brexit and the Budget in the Lower Hall, while Year 11s gave their final speeches of the week at Speakers Corner.