Dear Parents,
It has been a busy couple of weeks since I last wrote. As the students were preparing for their September trials, the Chairman, DSOBS President and I visited the fraternity on the West and East coasts of the United States. For the first time in five years there was a DSOBS meet-up in San Francisco, for which about 70 people were expected. In the end there were 125 old boys and girls from the Batch of ’51 all the way up to boys who were just about to start at USC and Berkeley.
It was a delight to share with the gathering what has been happening in school over the last few years. Many of them have not returned to school since they left and their image of the place has not changed from that time. Their wives and partners saw the place in a different light as the pictures of the boys playing their sports, working in the classrooms and living in the houses rolled past on the screen as we shared some of the recent stories and initiatives. It was also wonderful sharing a table with ten old boys who had all graduated in the six years. They were full of questions, some of which you can read about in the Weekly, and also full of feedback on what they had learned when they left Doon and moved to study in the US; more of that in future newsletters.
After San Francisco we jumped onto a flight to New York and met with the East Coast fraternity, again, with a good mix of vintages. The Chairman had not been there for the meet-up in April so it was his chance to share the vision of the School becoming more of a place for exceptional boys from all backgrounds through the growth of scholarship funds, helping to guarantee that our student diversity matches that of today’s India. This means growing the number of high value scholarships and developing the relationships that ensure a stream of applicants from the places and communities that are under-represented in school at the moment. To help shift the balance in our student population the Board has instituted an additional five 50% scholarships for the top 7th Class candidates coming from an Armed Forces family and has given three full scholarships to children from SOS Children’s Villages.
The trials finish today which means that all of the boys will have some idea of where they stand in terms of their subject knowledge and understanding. As I said to them on the day the trials started, these tests are like pay-day, when they get the return on their investment. Those who have been consistent and conscientious will, of course, do better than those who try to cram in their study the day before. Any summative assessment, like life itself, gives back what you have been prepared to put into it. Now, with the academic curriculum being far more skills and process based than it was in the past, the younger students have a better understanding of this than some of the students in the S and SC Forms who went through the ICSE programme of the past.
I will be writing to the SC Form parents independently to share some of the academic scaffolding that we are putting in place following the trials for our students. We want to  help them achieve all that they can between now and their final examinations next year. We were disappointed with their final grades, particularly in the IB Diploma, but we think with the feedback we have taken from the Batch of 2018 and from their teachers, that we have some sensible measures in place to support them more. We do not want to see another year where the predicted grades of the students are better than their final results. That disappointment is something that they will have to live with and is not a good indicator of the school’s capacity to develop hard working, academically engaged and driven students; we know that we can do better.

“The best advice I can give a 15-year-old is: don’t rely on the adults too much. Most of them mean well, but they just don’t understand the world.”

These are the words of Yuval Noah Harari from his new book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. I shared a piece from this book with the staff this week to provoke some more thought about what we do in school and how we do it. Many of the things that Harari says correspond with what Jack Ma said when he talked about education in Davos this year. Ma used to teach in a university and he chose to go out into the world with his ideas of how to run an online business so that he would be better able to teach his students; the plan was to go back into teaching. He thinks that we should be teaching everything to make sure that our children are as different from machines as they can be; values, believing, independent thinking, teamwork, care for others.
There are three new appointments in school that I must share. Mr. Debasish Chakrabarty (DEB) has begun working as our Deputy Head Academics. DEB has been an English teacher, a former HoD and was also Housemaster of Foot House. He is responsible for leading the academic life of the school, the Heads of Department and the assessment programmes. Of course, he cannot take on that responsibility and continue to run Foot house, so after a process of inviting applications internally and putting the candidates through some sort of capacity test and an interview, we have appointed Mrs. Ruchi Sahni (RHS) to the position. RHS teaches Biology in school and has been a tutor in H House most recently. Following Dr. Mona Khanna’s move to Unison World School in Dehradun as the Vice Principal, we have, after a process that included the candidates being part of the selection committee for another mathematics teacher, appointed Mr. Anjan Chaudhary (ANC) to Head of the mathematics department. This means we are looking for the right person to replace him as Housemaster in Kashmir House. We have received the expressions of interest and will be putting the candidates through an online test and an in-tray exercise before interviewing them the week after next. The Doon School is certainly a dynamic and interesting place to work and grow professionally, which is probably why when people do leave the school it is usually to become a leader somewhere else.
Over the last three weeks I have had the first real case of my own medical care being handled through the Wellness Centre (WC), the doctor and his team of nursing staff. A particularly nasty ear infection had me spending time there twice a day for IV antibiotics and I got to know very well the workings of the local specialists and the night time care of our own students; I shared their pain. What struck me over the course of the treatment and follow up was the quality of the arrangement we have with our panel of specialists in the city. I discovered that the boys get the same treatment that I do and that with one call we move from the WC to the treating specialist’s consulting room. Although I knew that this happened, I had not experienced it until now, and it was very reassuring. The other thing that was reassuring was the care and the expertise of the doctor and the nursing staff we have here. I’m not a good patient and I usually flake out at the sight of a needle. After a week of two needles a day, and all of the associated pills, drops and dressings, I can say that I have not only recovered from the infection, but have also got over my fear of needles. Alright, confession over.
I am sure that many of you will have read the very misleading headline in the TOI yesterday that was followed by an awful story about an allegation of a rape in a boarding school in Dehradun. I hope that you will have quickly realized that the story could not have been about our school. The TOI has since printed a correction and an apology, although I see that their response has not been uniform across the country. They have made a commitment not to use the words Doon and school together in future unless they are referring to us directly. As we teach our boys to be more critical of the things they read and take in from the media, it will provide a very relevant case study for them in future.
We are gearing up for Founders and every day I see and hear some more of the rehearsals for the plays and music that the students will be performing for you. The Chief Guest this year is
Meagan Fellone, the CEO of Barefoot College and we are very excited that we are not only being joined by her, but also by a team of Barefoot College’s Solar Mamas trainers. Barefoot College is a remarkable organisation that was set up by an old boy of the school in 1972. They work with the rural poor around the world to change the lives of their communities and have been remarkably successful in training women to be solar engineers. They will work with us and with other schools in Dehradun to teach us more so that we can better contribute to the lives of some of the communities we work with through our Social Service programmes.
See you there!

Matthew Raggett
The Doon School
Mall Road
Dehradun-248 001
Uttarakhand (India)