Introducing our New Heads of Boarding

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Familiar faces to the Dragon community, Marcus and Gus Faulkner, known to so many of us as Houseparents of School House, were welcomed into the roles as Heads of Boarding this academic year. They succeed Rupert and Lucy Blencowe who continue to run our Day and Flexible Boarding House for E, D, and C Block children at No 14 Bardwell Road. We asked Marcus and Gus what boarding at the Dragon looks like today, and the changes the coronavirus pandemic has inevitably made to the experience, both for staff and young Dragons. What is it like to board at the Dragon in 2020, and how have things changed, if at all?

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Boarding at the Dragon in 2020
Marcus and Gus Faulkner, Heads of Boarding

Boarding remains the heartbeat of the Dragon, and we are thrilled to step into the roles as Heads of Boarding this academic year — albeit an unusual one to do so. No strangers to Boarding at the School, we were Houseparents of School House for the past 10 years, and before that we were Houseparents of Charlbury House for five years. Having looked after over 400 boarders at the Dragon, we have a good understanding and have seen first-hand the benefits that boarding can bring to an individual, such as forming lifelong friendships, instilling independence and confidence, resilient learners, and ambitious Dragons.

The coronavirus pandemic, of course, meant many changes were to be made ahead of the boarders returning following the summer holidays. As a result of these changes our time was spent ensuring a safe and happy start for young Dragons and staff. This year, following the coronavirus-induced lockdowns, Dragon School adopted the BSA COVID-Safe Charter to confirm that we would comply with all government and boarding school guidance. The children returned in year group bubbles, and so immediately Boarding House life was set to change – effectively creating two Houses, within what would usually be one Senior House.

If an OD were to experience boarding at the Dragon today, they would recognise the external buildings, but be pleasantly surprised by the upgraded internal facilities and comfortable setup the children enjoy. The nightly routines are also a little different; the children enjoy use of the floodlit astro, the swimming pool, the sports hall, the ICT suites, firepits, and many creative activities in-House led by a team of talented and enthusiastic Dorms Takers. Bedtimes vary from House to House, depending on the school age of the child, and each Houseparent is supported by Boarding Assistants, Assistant Houseparents and Dorms Takers.

The children are woken at 7.00 am, with breakfast in the Dining Hall or Marquee (on School House lawn) at 7.30 am, and School starts with the ring of the very same bell, beside The Rink, at 8.15 am. Breakfast often consists of bacon rolls, sausage sandwiches, pain au chocolat, croissants, and a variety of fresh fruit and cereals. The children are welcomed back to the House in their free time during the School day, and lunch takes place in the extended Dining Hall within their Year group bubbles. Dinner is at 6.10 pm, and Prep begins at 6.40 pm. Saturday nights see the famous film night in Houses with the obligatory piece of tuck, and a later bedtime.

Dragon boarders are in frequent and easy touch with their families. They maintain regular communication through phone, email, FaceTime, Skype, and by traditional letter. Houseparents are the main link between School and home, and communicate regularly with Boarders’ parents, something perhaps more important now than ever before. Each year group have their own landlines, common rooms, and spaces to relax together. Each House is welcoming, comfortable, and a home from home experience for the children. The Houses have dorm decoration and dorm tidiness competitions, and reward charts to encourage the children to help the Boarding Assistants around the House.

So, in short, an Old Dragon boarder would still feel very much at home in a Dragon Boarding House today.

Marcus and Gus Faulkner
Heads of Boarding