Common Sense and
Earlier this year,
Country Life
’s editor-at-large Clive Aslet paid a visit to the Dragon.
As well as interviewing Headmaster John Baugh and touring the school with Deputy
Head Ed Phelps, Mr Aslet saw lots of children enjoying their busy day at school and
in their Boarding Houses. He also delved into the history of the Dragon and found
much of its original, distinctive spirit - which believed in children’s right to enjoy
school and the need for them to understand the world around them – to be alive
and well today. In the feature published in the magazine’s School Life
supplement in April, many of the
school’s activities (from
conkers to beekeeping
and messing about in
boats) were depicted and
its “exceptional” results
noted. Mr Aslet also saw
that kindness and com-
mon sense remain guiding
principles and that under-
neath all the activity on the
surface “there is a great
sense of purpose, serenity
and calm”.
D R A G O N S T O D A Y . S U M M E R 2 0 1 2
A World View
Headmaster John Baugh considers
the importance of enriching
children’s lives with global
One of the most striking things about the
Dragon, a place that is that most traditional of
things, namely an English prep school, is just
how international it is in reach and outlook.
While our home is in leafy North Oxford, and
our links with this city are intensely and proudly
local, our pupils and staff have connections
all over the world and our activities take us
to many parts of it. I believe this adds hugely
to the education of children and is vital to an
understanding of the world issues that will be so
central to their futures.
The international blend the school
represents adds greatly to its character and
the experience it offers. With both London and
increasingly Oxford being global cities, Dragon
pupils from the UK often have direct experience
of life in many other countries. Our boarders
with families living overseas also bring their own
cultural experience, food and language into the
rich Dragon mix.
As the Ofsted inspectors remarked of the
school’s social impact programme in 2009:
“Pupils have an unusually well-developed sense
of their place as global citizens…”. Dragons
research and support charities, especially those
that work with children, all over the world and
they travel to see what is needed on the ground.
They travel closer to home, to meet and work
with children from different backgrounds to
theirs and build happy relationships with them
as they share activities and learning. They enjoy
exchanges with children from Tokyo, New York
and Versailles and live with their families. All
of this is as important today as it was in 1908
when Skipper Lynam, the school’s most famous
Headmaster, remarked that we must teach
children to scorn “the sham patriotism which
assumes that one’s country must be in the right
and that one Briton is worth two foreigners
merely because he happens to be a Briton”. An
unconventional view then and one which set the
tone for the understanding of the world that was
wished for all Dragons and which has continued
ever since.
Every year the Governors of the
Dragon set Year 7 pupils a challenge.
Each child is given £2 to grow into
a larger sum to give away - and just
six weeks to do it using their own
ideas and ingenuity. Inspired by the
work of well-known philanthropists
and social entrepreneurs, the children
brainstorm ideas and plan their
projects to respond to the Governors’
Challenge with creativity and
entrepreneurial skill.
Year 7 Market Day,
Governors’ Challenge
Since the project started five years
ago, the Challenge has prompted many
original responses; pupils have set up
sustainable ventures, re-invested their
profits, raised awareness of good causes
and created a considerable amount of
money for their chosen charities. The
2012 Challenge has proved the most
successful yet with over £11,400 raised
and 35 different charities supported. This
of course sets a challenge to next year’s
group who will need skill, determination
and intelligence to beat this record.
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