Boarding Dragons
School House
Stringer’s first ‘in
school weekend’
of Christmas Term
‘Silkie’ chicks
playing balloon
games in the
fashion show
using recycled
The Nicholsons’ four years’
experience as Houseparents to
boys aged 8 to 10 have been
very rewarding and they believe
passionately in the positive value
of boarding. Angus and Becky
have three small children of their
own and they feel that their child-
friendly home and its comfortable
surroundings gives boarders the
space they need to develop well
physically and emotionally.
“But this is just like a normal
family house, do the boys
really live here with you?”
The Nicholsons have no
doubt that they have chosen the
right place to be Houseparents:
“The Dragon is such a forward
thinking and exciting school
yet one with a huge history and
brilliant reputation. Enjoying the
successes of the children and
seeing them achieve their potential
is a real pleasure”. They are also
clear about what makes Dragon
boarding a distinctive experience.
“Watching children play and learn
from each other is very special,”
says Angus. “We particularly like
the after school atmosphere of
the boarding community – the
sense that school doesn’t end but
continues in a different way”.
Like the Pipers, the
Nicholsons also make sure there
is crucial individual time for the
boys to raise concerns. “Talking
and socialising with the children
is fundamental. The weekly house
meetings are an important time to
regroup after the weekend, focus
back on school and look to the
week ahead. This preparation
really helps the boys settle and
feel supported”.
Each house has its own style
and Nicholsons is no exception. It
comes from the surroundings of
the house itself and the character
of the Houseparents. “I enjoy
gardening and cooking and the
boys are free to join me in making
interesting areas in the garden
for play and relaxation,” explains
Becky. “We are always pleased to
hear parents say ‘but this is just
like a normal family house, do the
boys really live with you?’”.
A Boys’ Junior House
The Girls’ Senior House
Lindsey Stuart, who runs Cherwell
House with her musician husband
David, was initially a teacher and
day tutor with a pastoral role.
Becoming a Houseparent and
living alongside the girls with her
own small children brings special
insights about the development
of girls. “I enjoy being personally
involved in their lives,” she says of
her lively charges.
Lindsey’s experience has
taught her how important and
subtle communication skills are to
girls. “A lot of time is spent sitting
and chatting to them, they are
very sociable and communicative,
interested and interesting. They
enjoy having friends around them
and expect attention in a different
way from boys”. She also knows
that as girls grow older, their needs
change. The girls between ages
11 and 13 are more responsible,
attentive and capable of kindness
and empathy than their younger
counterparts. As senior pupils
at the Dragon, they have new
opportunities, more choice and
increased responsibility.
“I am a firm believer in the
benefits of staying on at the
Dragon for these vital years
where children feel comfortable,
supported and remain in a
child-centred environment. They
feel confident being in the top two
years and have the freedom to
explore. The more adult pressures
of relationships can come at
senior school when they are older
teenagers,” says Lindsey.
As in all boarding houses
at the Dragon another great
advantage is the national and
international mix in Cherwell House
and the enrichment it brings to
the girls. As well as displays and
photos around the boarding house
there are various celebrations
during the year that contribute
to the maturity of the girls and
strengthens their friendships. It is
as Lindsey says: “The girls make
life-long bonds with friends and
develop the independence to cope
with separation from their parents”.
D R A G O N s T O D A Y . s P R I N G 2 0 1 1
“The girls develop life-long
bonds with friends”
1,2,3,4 6,7,8,9,10,11,12