Dear Parents,
The rhythm of the school has changed now that many of the ISC boys have finished their exams and the trials have started for everyone else. Classrooms give way to exam rooms and everywhere there are boys clutching books and studying in the shade of a tree or gazebo.  The IB boys are working to complete their internal assessment ahead of their exams that start in May. The end is in sight, unless you are one of the masters… then the sight ahead of you is the mountain of papers to mark, moderate and report on before climbing the midterm mountain you have planned to trek with your tutor group!
We were recently visited by a group of students and teachers from Groton School, one of our exchange schools in the US, who were in India during their spring break. As well as seeing some of the regions and visiting Woodstock School and Delhi, they spent time in our classes and at Welham Girls before having a talk in the evening from Suniti Datta, Batch of ’97, about the ecology of Doon. One of their teachers, Tom, had lived at Doon back in 2008 for six months and it was a wonderful experience for those who knew him then to show him around the school again. The Groton students, a mixture of B, A, S and SC Formers, were interested to hear about experience of the boys here. One of the differences that the students found was that in SC Form all of Groton students who have been at the school for four years became prefects. They are recognised as the elders in the community and all shared the responsibility of helping things to work well for everyone.
Students and Teachers from Groton School
Last week the Chairman and I travelled with the DSOBS President, Vice-President and Secretary along with Alok Bhargava, Chair of our Diversity Committee and Arjun Bartwal, our Director of Alumni Relations and Development, to Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. We were there to meet with prospective parents who are considering the school for their sons. At the moment we have only 25 students from the south and we would like to increase the pool of applicants so that we have the opportunity to find more exceptional boys who would contribute to the learning that happens here. We also met with families and senior officers from the Indian uniformed services who make up another disproportionately low demographic in the school. When the school was established more than a quarter of the boys came from families in uniformed service, now that figure is less than 5%. If we are looking to have boys from all backgrounds to serve a meritocratic India we need to be doing more to find those boys and reaching out in this way is the start.

After meeting 39 parents in Chennai, 50 in Bangalore and 24 in Hyderabad we were joined in the evenings by members of the DSOBS who mingled with the prospective parents and talked to them about the school and what it has done for their boys. I was delighted to see some recent graduates turn out (free dinner for students!) and some of the incoming Batch of 2024 who turned out to say hello. We could not have taken on such a trip without the help of the Old Boys and the network of parents out there who made it possible; thank you so much.
Whilst I was away, the science department was up to their necks in glassware, chemicals, voltmeters and bits of plants as they piloted the IGCSE practical examinations with the B Form. This type of assessment allows the students to demonstrate their observational, analytical and deductive skills after following instructions, measuring and recording data from a prescribed experiment. This is the first time we have done the complete exercise spread over three days with 227 sets of equipment for Physics, Chemistry and Biology. The feedback from the team is that they enjoyed the opportunity to try this and build their preparation for the real practical exam that will come next year when the batch is in A Form. The boys also enjoyed it and said that it was a challenge because they had to make careful observations, commit to them and then work with them to come up with new information or a conclusion. This is exactly why an assessment of this type is so valuable. We know that not many of our students will go on to be scientists, researchers or technicians but we do know that what ever they do they will be required to make observations, measure some sort of result, analyse data and interpret it to form a hypothesis or opinion. These are transferable skills that are difficult to develop if they are not taught and put to the test.
This week we are interviewing candidates interested in becoming the next Martyn House Housemaster; after Stuti Kuthiala’s appointment as Deputy Head (Pastoral) we need to fill her shoes. The Deputy Head (Pastoral) role is one that balances the Academic and Pastoral areas of responsibility in the school. We have had Kamal Ahuja in the academic role for some time, convening the Academic Council, working with the Heads of Department and managing the timetabling, examinations and options with the programme coordinators. Kamal is also responsible for the implementation of our Academic Honesty policy from both the educational and, if required, follow up perspective. Stuti’s role will have a similar portfolio in the pastoral care areas; convening the Housemasters’ Council and Pastoral Care Team (Counsellors, Doctor, Housemaster’s rep., Dame’s rep.), working with each of the houses to share and ensure best practice in care and adult supervision and managing the orientation of new students into the school. Stuti will also be responsible for the implementation of our behavioural codes and policies from both the educational and follow up perspective. The other ongoing search is for the Deputy Headmaster. With Philip Burrett retiring (again) and PK Nair moving on to head the Lawrence School, Lovedale, we are losing two great figures in the community. Stuti’s new role fills the gap that PBR leaves behind and we will continue meeting candidates to replace PKN until we find the right person.
Ms Stuti Kuthiala, new Deputy Head (Pastoral).
After a week of not travelling, I will be in Singapore this weekend and the start of next week for the IB Global conference. There will be a DSOBS get together at Jones the Grocer on Tuesday evening where our Chairman and I will meet some of the fraternity. One of the keynote speakers at the IB conference is Meagan Fallone, the CEO of Barefoot College, one of the country’s, and the world’s, most respected NGOs that aims to create a sustainable world from the ground up. Their Solar Mamas, who come from 92 nations and are trained in Rajasthan, were recently met by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President, Emmanuel Macron on his visit to the International Solar Alliance in India. Barefoot College founder, Bunker Roy, Batch of ’61, and his team are leading the way in empowering women and rural communities to accomplish development that many less comprehensive approaches have failed to achieve. For example, their college improved its 6-month solar training curriculum to include weekly workshops in women’s health, financial literacy, climate change awareness, nutrition and livelihood programs that cater to the developmental needs of our rural women and their communities.
Next week the Indian School of Business and Finance and London School of Economics are organizing their 2018 Symposium for Teachers
. The keynote speaker is Dr. James Abdey, from the Department of Statistics, who will be exploring the question of whether classrooms are irrelevant. The theme of the symposium is the challenges and the opportunities of millennials and in thinking about my contribution to the discussion I re-watched this interview with Simon Sinek, a writer and broadcaster who has studied millennials and their working preferences. What he has to say is something that should be of interest to all of us as parents, educators and students; it’s thought provoking and, to some extent, a little disheartening. It does, however, correspond with what we see in some of our students and what we saw in all five of the boys who came to school last year as part of the Channel4 series Indian Summer School.  The three episode series, which premiers on C4 on Thursday 29th March at 9 PM, London time, followed them from their schooling experience in government schools in the UK to a five month exchange with us. Whilst our boys and masters rose to the challenge of having them here, they did not live up so well to the expectations we had for them. Although they achieved less than we hoped for academically they grew as a result of what we were able to give them and, to some extent, the impact will be felt in the future. These boys have now seen more of the world than anyone they know, have lived with people who see the world differently from them and have received more feedback in five months than they might have had in their life before. All experiments like this are a risk because the return on the investment of time and energy might not pay off. I think it is important for us to be prepared to take these risks from time to time so that our students and masters can see and learn from them. If we weren’t prepared to take them there would be so many opportunities missed.
Indian Summer School Channel4 series
For those of you whose sons are returning to your care after their board exams, please enjoy the time with them and keep them safe. This is a time of high spirits from those leaving school and can be a time when the wrong sorts of risks are taken by young men who feel invincible and suddenly independent; they still need our care and supervision.
With the end of the year, midterms and our week of activities coming there is a lot to look forward to for those who are staying. This is particularly the case with the new school year as every boys moves into the next form with all of the challenges, responsibilities and hope that it brings. If your A Former is coming home for some time I hope that you enjoy his company and that he gets some well deserved rest. If your younger son is packing his trunk and getting ready to start on 1st April, then I wish you and him all the best; we are in this together, my daughter will also be starting in D Form this year!


Matthew Raggett

Our mailing address is:
The Doon School
Mall Road
Uttarakhand (India)