At Dulwich College Beijing, our students come first. In addition to providing our students with a well-grounded, holistic curriculum, we are also committed to keeping them safe with Safeguarding, Child Protection and Wellbeing policies implemented throughout the College.
And taking on the challenge to oversee safe and effective care for our students is our new Deputy Head Teacher of Senior School (Wellbeing) and Whole College Designated Safeguarding Lead, Kevin Rossall.
Deputy Head of Senior School (Wellbeing)
With 16 years of experience teaching in top institutions – six of those in an international school in Egypt as Deputy Head (Student Welfare) – he brings with him a wealth of experience to ensure that our students are safe, motivated and engaged in all aspects of school life to develop as global citizens and as mentally strong, well-grounded individuals.
We’ve asked Mr Rossall to carve out some time from his busy schedule for us and share a bit about himself, his experiences in Safeguarding and how it benefits our students’ educational learning.
The Opening speech at the commencement assembly at the start of the year
What drew you to Dulwich College Beijing?
I really liked the look and feel of Dulwich College Beijing. I appreciated the simple yet powerful vision of Live Worldwise. and Students Come First, which I hold at the centre of my practice. I went through a rigorous 4-stage interview process, but at every stage and in every interaction, I felt that this was a school that really stood by its values. As an extremely values-driven person myself, I felt aligned with the College and was over the moon when I was offered the job.
I certainly have enjoyed my time here since arriving. After giving my previous school in Egypt 6 years of my senior leadership service I felt I was ready to move on. I had built strong pastoral, wellbeing and safeguarding systems in my previous school and I felt I was in a strong position to try move on to somewhere new and feel confident in what I was leaving behind for the staff and students under my care there.
You’ve worked and lived in Egypt as a Deputy Head and Safeguarding Lead. What was it like, and how different is it to be a Safeguarding Lead there and here at DCB?
You would be surprised about Egypt. There was a very sizable expat community, especially in Cairo. That is owing to the number of international organisations (mainly in fossil fuels) and the international schools that support them. That said, the number of top tier international schools in Egypt as a whole (it is a very big country) is not that vast. I was lucky that I started 6 years ago to come into an already well-run and established school of 40 years. That said, schools are constantly evolving as the world around us changes so there is always work to be done and new things to learn.
On that note, I learned in Egypt that, at a classroom level, young adults go through similar circumstances wherever you are. Cultural differences aside, they are still young adults trying to figure out who they wish to be in this world. The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that are faced by young people in every classroom around the world are largely the same, maybe now more than ever before, due to the globalisation of information and influence of social media. Since starting at DCB I find myself having similar conversations with students, parents and staff alike that I have been having over my 20 years in education, which is due in part to this. I feel this experience of international education is useful to my approach in DCB as it gives me a sound understanding of the issues our young people face, which in my role as a Designated Safeguarding Lead is extremely important. I can open dialogues with experience and empathy, offer guidance and advice because I have developed the expertise to do so over my 20 years of practice.
In terms of my experiences working across cultures, I learned the importance of inter-connectedness. When students are exposed to experiences where their perspectives of certain people or cultures are challenged, they really do learn something for life. Something meaningful, powerful and experiential. In my last school, I was Trips Coordinator as well as Deputy Head. This involved, amongst other things, organising the annual Secondary School Trips Week which, as an IB school, I felt was important to offer to the students as it involved creativity, activity and service. This involved setting up international trips (E.g., Cambodia, Nepal, Prague, Italy, America and Spain to name a few) as well as residential trips (Aswan, Luxor, Sinai, Alexandria etc) that were not simply recreational. The trips had creative elements (E.g., biodiversity, art workshops and drama), physically draining elements (E.g., skiing, scuba diving or hiking) and service elements - the latter involving many trips working with disenfranchised communities to help develop orphanages, farmland and shelters or teaching English classes. These experiences are what helps students to realise their core values and who they want to go out and be in the world.
Sponge the Teacher for Breast Cancer Awareness
Could you share some practices you’ve implemented in the past on Wellbeing?
I developed a platform in my previous school that was predicated on the principles of socio-emotional learning and emotional literacy whereby students would use a custom-built app to check in each day and let the pastoral staff now how they were feeling. This regular tuning in to emotional states and the re-visiting of these each day allowed students to become more educated and reflective about how these emotions were both helping and hindering their educational attainment. The data we received as a school was also extremely useful as it allowed us to identify students who were ‘trending’ negatively over a series of days and intervene on them to provide support. It would also give good snapshots of year groups that at times struggled the most so we could engage in conversations about how we could best support them. Then at a whole school level, it allowed us to see the ‘pinch points’ in the school year where the students were struggling the most with their mental health and therefore allow us to plan better for the following year.
Halloween fancy dress day
A student who feels safe and cared for is more likely to learn and engage with their teachers. Growing up, could you share of an educator who also cared for you and inspired you to learn and engage better?
My old English and Drama teacher, Mr Power. During the early stages of High School (KS3) I struggled significantly with my behaviour. I was diagnosed at a young age with ADHD and have over many years learnt effective ways of managing the condition, but back then I struggled. Then in Year 9 Mr Power became my Drama teacher. He seemed to understand me very well, taught me a lot about channelling my energy into performance whilst also maintaining very consistent behavioural boundaries. I ended up taking Drama for GCSE and he was my English and Drama GCSE teacher for a further 2 years. During that time, I became Head Boy and managed to leave High School with 10 GCSE’s all at a grade A –much of which I owe to his help and my renewed love of school through the subject of Drama. I then went on to study Applied Theatre and Education at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London and since then have always stayed in touch with him. On occasion we still meet up for a drink in the local pub when I am back in the UK.
Mr Rossall climbing the Great Wall
What are some things you like to do around Beijing during your spare time?
I am a hobbyist DJ and like to play in public venues wherever I can around Beijing. I am a keen skier, hence looking forward to the wintertime in Beijing! I am also a master scuba diver, which I hope I will also get the opportunity to do some of here in China at some point. Aside from that I like to travel, hike, explore and experience which is fantastic having come to Beijing as there is so much to do. This is my first time living in China, having only ever visited on holiday a couple times 10 years ago. So I am lucky enough to be experiencing and seeing many things for the first time here.
How does feeling safe and supported benefit our students’ educational learning?
When done well, Safeguarding has immeasurable benefits that will last throughout a child’s lifetime.
At a whole school level, like we have in DCB, we see an environment where students, for the most part, enjoy coming to school and whilst they are here, they are happy and feel safe enough to push themselves beyond the scope of the normal curriculum.
This is evidenced by the sheer number of leadership positions that we have students across the school competing for every year. It is why we have such a rich ECA programme that is, in part, led by students as well as staff. It is the reason that our students go above and beyond being an average student because they know they will be supported in doing so. It is also the reason why our alumni are so successful and so varied across such a massive range of industries, as those students felt safe and secure enough to pursue their own passions.
In feeling safe and supported, our students learn to push their boundaries and Live Worldwise; when students feel safe and happy in school, they become inspired to develop positive learning experiences, and eventually make a positive difference in the world.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.