Irfan Latif is the Principal of DLD College London. Established in 1931, DLD is an award-winning co-educational boarding school for ages 14–19 situated on the bank of the River Thames.
Irfan was educated at Emanuel School and read Chemistry at King’s College, University of London where he graduated with honours. He started his teaching career at the prestigious Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Boys where he taught Science and was Assistant Housemaster. Prior to DLD College, Irfan – a former Head of Chemistry and Director of Science at St Benedict’s School in Ealing, London, Senior Housemaster at Whitgift School and Deputy Head at Bedford School – he was Head Master of Sexey’s School, Bruton, a state boarding school in Somerset in the South West of England. He has been the Chairman of the State Boarding Schools' Forum and Chairman elect of the Boarding Schools' Association. He regularly lectures at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and is also a Justice of the Peace (magistrate). As well as being a school Governor, he is also the trustee of various charities and used to sit on the Board of Education at the Diocese of Bath & Wells.
He is a keen cook, traveller and adventurer and recently led expeditions to Everest Base Camp, Venezuela and the Red Sea. He is married to Jocelyn, a science teacher, and they have two young daughters, Zara and Emma and their Jack Russell dog, Rodney.
1 Which place, or city or country do you most feel at home in?
London is where I feel most at home and one of the drivers for moving back to the city after spending five years in the countryside. I was born in Chelsea and lived in Clapham for my formative years - London has many special memories for me.
2 What are your proudest achievements?
Successfully leading a group of 50 students and staff from Bedford School to Everest Base Camp - that was a tough expedition but a once in a life time opportunity which I will never forget. It taught us a lot about ourselves especially the qualities of resilience and character.
3 What inspires you?
My wife Jo inspires me - the creator of Karma Curry who runs her business alongside being a science teacher and an outstanding mother. She keeps our family together and is always looking out for others. Teachers also inspire me - going that extra mile to support and get the very best out of their students. We all remember a good teacher and my old housemaster, Harry Jackson, still inspires me after some 35 years!
What has been biggest obstacle in your career?
Mount Everest was quite a big obstacle! But on a serious note, there really have not been any obstacles. Friends and colleagues have always been supportive, and I have managed to progress rapidly my career in a variety of leadership roles and schools where the experiences in each have been unique and rewarding.
4 Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date?
My previous Head Master, John Moule at Bedford School where I was Deputy Head supported my aspirations to be a head. I was the first Asian Deputy Head of an HMC public school and the only one in the South West of England. Hopefully more BAME teachers will aspire to leadership roles in the education sector - it can be done!
5 What is the best aspect about your current role?
Watching my students grow and flourish in a tolerant and respectful environment - making a positive difference to the lives of our students and staff. We take wellbeing and mental health seriously at DLD College London and are being very innovative in the educational sector to improve the outcomes for our students and staff.
6 And the worst?
The bureaucracy of school inspection - I understand why it’s needed to ensure that educational standards are maintained, but it can become the sole focus for schools which is detrimental to the students. The regime needs to be more supportive rather than punitive which can be damaging.
7 What are your long-term goals?
Being the Principal of an iconic independent boarding school in the heart of London has provided the school and myself many unique learning opportunities and I would like to use these to help social mobility and further improve the educational outcomes for children - possibly a role in Government where I can influence change and make things happen.
8 If you were Prime Minister, what one aspect would you change?
Increase educational funding in our schools - many are at breaking point and therefore damaging the life chances of children. This must change rapidly in order to support the next generation of creative thinkers and leaders.
9 If you were marooned on a desert island, which historical figure would you like to spend your time with and why.
Nelson Mandela - he could teach me a thing or two about resilience and survival!