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THE OD

18

DRAGON DEVELOPMENT

Securing the Future

of the Dragon

“Why can’t professional people like me

afford an independent education anymore?”

This question is asked at every OD reunion

and it deserves a response.

The National Independent Schools’

Benchmarking Survey 2016 has benchmarked

fees in 720 separate schools. Since 2012,

fee increases averaged between 3% and 4%

in prep and senior schools. Since the early

2000s, school fees have grown by 60% while

earnings have only grown by just 30%.

What is driving these fee

increases?

Teachers’ pay is benchmarked. Staff are

paid competitive rates but by far the

most significant driver of higher costs in

independent schools is the pupil teacher

ratio. Recent changes in teachers’ pensions

and National Insurance payments have also

had a significant impact on costs.

Changing social, technological and

educational needs of the modern world mean

that all schools – state and independent

– have had to invest in technology and

appropriate facilities such as IT suites. Such

investment also has staffing implications.

What about schools’ capital

reserves?

All well managed schools will have reserves

but, as you all know, income from interest

is minimal and the contribution from

investments – particularly in a school with

no large and well established endowment –

is minimal.

The Dragon has not entered the ‘arms race’

for ever grander facilities. Nevertheless, the

School’s facilities need to be upgraded and

maintained from time to time. The Governors

are working on a thirty year capital plan to

minimise costs and to provide facilities that

support children’s learning for the future.

How can the Dragon combat the

external pressures on fees and

also invest in its essential capital

programme?

It isn’t possible to turn back the clock. If we

ran the Dragon as it was 50 years ago we

would fail to meet almost all current statutory

obligations and be unable to prepare our

pupils for the technologically complex and

diverse society in which we now live.

Proposed Music

School

Update

Oxford-based Architects

Berman Guedes Stretton (BGS)

have been

appointed to review and develop the

School’s building masterplan including

a new Music School, which remains the

School’s top building priority. BGS have

a reputation for delivering high quality

architecture and have won a number of

invited and open design competitions

and many awards, including the

RIBA National award, RIBA and

RICS Regional Awards and RIBA

Conservation and Sustainability Awards.

They were finalists for the Building

Design Education Architect of the Year

2013, and their recent projects in Oxford

include Wolfson College, Pembroke

College, Queen’s College and St Clare’s.

The Governors are currently

working on a capital projects masterplan

for the School for the short to medium

term. More details will be published

on the Dragon School Website

(

www.dragonschool.org

) and in future

editions of the OD magazine as soon as

plans are finalised.

The Dragon

Development Office

Roger Ainsworth became the Chairman of Governors at the Dragon in April 2014.

Since October 2002, he has been Master of St Catherine’s College, Oxford, having been a

Fellow in Engineering of the College since 1985. Roger was an undergraduate apprentice

with Rolls-Royce Aero Engines in Derby, before attending Jesus College, Oxford as an

undergraduate and postgraduate, and obtaining a D.Phil in 1976.

All Governing bodies are keen to

control costs. The Dragon Governors

are no exception and they are taking a

rigorous approach to managing costs. This

coming Academic year a small fee increase

of 2%, half the average fee increase in

recent times, has been announced. There

will be little surplus, however, for future

capital projects.

How can the Dragon invest for the

future and keep its fee increases

to a minimum?

Part of the solution is an efficient, effective

Development Office with a long term vision.

We thank all those ODs who have

already contributed to the transformational

bursary fund or have helped to fund a

capital project, and we thank all our legators

who help to secure the long term future of

the School. If you wish to find out more

about the School’s fundraising, including

legacies, contact The Development Office.

Roger Ainsworth,

Chairman of Governors