08 December, 2023

Beyond Social Impact: Insights from Dover Court Deputy Head – Community and Guidance

Dover Court International School Social Purpose

In the final section of the article 'Social purpose. Real-world impact or virtue signalling?' which featured in the first issue of the NAE Insights publication, Dr Mark Starbuck, Principal of The Metropolitan School of Panama was quoted as saying that it is vital that social impact is not reduced to “raising money from bake sales and making charitable donations” and I couldn’t agree more.

Whilst we will always welcome items for charity drives, and donations for bake sales, my first thought is always: do our student understand why they are bringing in these items, or do they know where this donation is going and why? And once they’ve dropped off their old toys or clothes, do they really think about what happens next and where those donations go?

The greatest learning happens, and the greatest impact can be made when students contribute to their own communities by ‘doing’ and playing an active part in being the change they want to see in the world.

Here at DCIS, we strive to empower young people to make a difference to the things that matter most to them, not the things that we, as adults, deem to be most important. When we care about something deeply, we work harder to achieve success. And the more agency students have over these projects, the more successful they will be. You don’t have to look any further for evidence of this than the DCIS ‘Period Project’, which was successfully awarded a Nord Anglia Social Impact Grant last year! Our young people had ensured students have access to period products bathrooms throughout the school. Or the students who volunteered to work with one of our partner charities, Curious Thoughts Giving, to support their literacy programme.

The impact of these projects on the students involved has been long-lasting. The skills they have developed whilst researching, collaborating, designing, implementing, evaluating, and refining their projects will be taken forward into their adult lives. As Dr Jane Gaskell says in the article, “when undertaken in the right way, such work can reshape young people’s understanding of their world”.

Given that our mission here at DCIS is to “prepare students to flourish in our dynamic world, to be active participants in a globally connected community, now and throughout life", it is the experiences and skills they can gain from social impact initiatives that will empower our students to go on to create positive, impactful change not only in their own lives, but in the lives of others too.

Jacqueline Glazerman

Deputy Head – Community and Guidance