THE DRAGON SCHOOL, OXFORD: ROOM FOR EVERY CHILD’S ORIGINALITY
Ask a parent what they want for their children, in a day and age where the pressure to live in a virtual world is unrelenting, and you will find that their message is simple: A safe haven where children have time and space to learn, to play, to be themselves.
The Dragon Preparatory School, situated just north of Oxford’s historic centre, is a boarding and day school for children aged 4-13 where the atmosphere buzzes, yet the day is uniquely organised to provide an oasis of relative calm for purposeful pursuits.
With a unique ethos of ‘ordered freedom and relaxed rigour’, pupils enjoy spacious grounds and playing fields bordered by the Cherwell river. The outstanding facilities allow Dragons to experience a wealth of extracurricular activities above and beyond their academic learning.
The Dragon community’s informality may seem counter-intuitive to the efficient working of a busy school, but as Headmaster John Baugh explains: ‘Giving children more freedom, within an emotionally healthy environment, builds trust and allows them to develop a sense of responsibility and respect for others that is vital to a full life.
‘The quality of the relationships between adults and children, founded on mutual respect rather than command-and-control authority, cannot be stressed enough.’
The parents of Dragons have seen that a strong boarding culture helps children become confident, independent and motivated. Not only do Dragons enjoy their learning, they carry forward a set of skills that will help them flourish in their future schools.
Within the boarding community an impressive network of houseparents, matrons, teachers and assistant teachers support children in family-run boarding houses that are a home from home and where they return every couple of hours for mid-morning ‘bunbreak’, lunchtime play, changing for games and afternoon tea.
Day and boarding pupils mix easily side-by-side throughout all lessons and activities; day pupils are welcome to participate in boarding life by staying after school and joining in with the Dragon’s many after-school clubs.
The DNA of the Dragon sees a first-class academic curriculum interwoven with a programme of social and emotional learning
The DNA of the Dragon sees a first-class academic curriculum interwoven with a programme of social and emotional learning. A breadth of intellectual, philosophical and physical challenge underpins the expansive academic syllabus, enriched by a diverse programme of sport, music, drama and art. Children are also encouraged to look outwards to the world and the lives of others through travel, exchanges, service to the community and an understanding of philanthropy in its widest sense.
The social and emotional programme aims to prepare children for 21st century living and learning, where values of courage, kindness and respect are encouraged. The most recent ISI report recognised that children who are respected and supported remain creative and intellectually curious, and are motivated to try harder and consequently learn better.
‘Dragons are allowed to make mistakes and are given the space and support to put those mistakes right, grow and learn in a productive and emotionally healthy way,’ adds John Baugh.
True to the radical principles of Headmaster Skipper Lynam more than 100 years ago, the Dragon continues to provide ‘full scope for each child’s imagination and originality’.
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