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John Baugh

15 years of putting children first

Stop any Dragon child who has attended the

School over the past 15 years and ask them

what the Headmaster’s rules are and they

will all give you the same answer: Be Kind,

Be Kind, Be Kind. It is a mantra which was

introduced during John Baugh’s very first

assembly in the Lynam Hall and continues

to resonate throughout the School today.

What struck all of us in those first few

weeks and months was how John continued

to bring any conversation back to the child.

Of course, the Dragon has always had a feel

of ‘relaxed rigour’ and the new Head

embraced and championed this ethos,

delighting in inviting us all to colour

occasionally outside of the lines (or teach

beyond the confines of CE).

One of John’s great legacies has been the

expert way that he has navigated the School

through the occasionally choppy waters

of the last 15 years. Parents who invest in

their children’s education want certainty

about the future. Since the dawn of the new

millennium, the world has been anything

but certain. John’s deeply held belief that the

School’s enlightened ethos is non-negotiable

has given reassurance to many; his

appreciation that a great school never stands

still has ensured that the Dragon has met the

challenges of an ever-changing world.

A few examples help to illustrate how

John has helped secure the long-term

future of the School. In 2007, the Dragon’s

purchase of the lease from St John’s

College; in 2002, the Dragon introduced a

transformational bursary programme which

gives up to 25 children at any one time the

opportunity to attend the Dragon. These are

children who would otherwise never benefit

from an independent education. The Dragon

became the lead sponsor of the Blackbird

Academy Trust, supporting three primary

schools in South Oxford. These two projects

were true to Skipper Lynam’s principles that

children should never detach themselves

from the world around them and the School

should not “live in its own little kingdom”.

A whole range of improvements in

the daily life of the school, as well as the

widening of opportunities for children on

all fronts, has ensured that all Dragons

continue to

reach for the sun’. Many

landmarks in the School calendar remain

unchanged; the anarchy of the staff panto

and the immortal Sing-Song, for instance,

are still permanent fixtures.

We, who have been part of this great

adventure, will all have our own memories

of John’s kindness, generosity and support

but a permanent reminder will soon be up

in the Lynam Hall when his portrait finds

its spot alongside the other great leaders

of this wonderful School. This addition

will comprise the digital photos of all the

Dragons who were lucky enough to pass

through under his watch.