Dragons Today - Summer 2013 - page 9

House Dragon
Gareth Jones, Boarding House Parent and tutor to Year 6 boys, has enjoyed a varied career at
the Dragon including eight energetic years as Director of Sport. He spoke to
Dragons Today
about his life at school and the perspectives that teaching and parenthood bring to his job.
English and History, and for five years
was Chairman of the Common Room.
The Dragon has the scope to do different
things but remain fresh. Some things still
feel new and I still get a buzz coaching
Year 4 games.
What was your approach to running
To increase match-playing
opportunities for everyone and improve
the provision of sport for girls. It’s a
challenge to give the best opportunities to
excel while ensuring all abilities can shine.
The most satisfying things are seeing
the fields and Astros awash with children
enjoying themselves or a team playing well
because they have taken on board one’s
coaching. And I’ve really enjoyed seeing
my former pupils take their sport further
and also organising big events - Sports
Day is the highlight of my year.
How did you become a House Parent –
and what’s it like for your own family?
I really enjoyed those two terms running
Gunga. When Charlbury House came up,
Jemma (my wife, who I met here) and I
thought it was too
good to miss.
We’d both been
involved in
boarding here but
when we had our
own children we
really felt we could
take a House on.
Raising children
in the boarding
environment has
benefitted our
family and
the boys we
look after.
Our children have older brothers to play
with and for the boys it’s great fun to have
some younger children around. There are
compromises but one great advantage
is that I get to be around a great deal.
The Dragon boarding community is full
of young families too which creates a
wonderful environment for children.
Does being a houseparent help you
as a teacher?
Yes - simply because one
gets to know the child really well. There
are often reasons why a child might under
perform; being a Houseparent has
given me more insight and, probably,
more patience. I am the boarders’
academic tutor and understanding senior
schools’ requirements has informed my
own teaching.
What does the Dragon do particularly
The list is a long one! I’ve heard
it said that the Dragon is a school that
allows children to make mistakes. We
encourage them to have a go, whether
they achieve or not, and enable them to
find at least one thing they are good at.
Many are multi-talented which is testament
to the excellent teaching and coaching in
so many areas. The staff relate to children
in a friendly way with interest in each child
as a person, not as a pupil.
What next for your career?
I’m starting a Masters in Educational
Leadership, so maybe a Deputy
Headship or eventually, a
Headship. But the Dragon
is a hard place to leave
and I cannot imagine a
better education for my
own children.
What are your school memories –
did you board?
Happy memories,
generally. The youngest of ten (and the
seventh son), I and my brothers started at
a South London prep school then went in
different directions. I was always a day boy
and made some excellent mates, several
of us are still close.
Why did you become a teacher?
One brother was a Royal Marine and
I took early steps towards the military.
Another was a newspaper correspondent
and I harboured – still do! - journalistic
ambitions, especially in sport. But
teaching always appealed; there was a
tremendously talented sporting ‘stooge’ at
my school and I thought I would like to do
his job. Later I did – at Lichfield Cathedral
School, it was brilliant and confirmed I
wanted to teach.
What attracted you to the Dragon?
My father knew Oxford and always
mentioned this great school called the
Dragon. I arrived here, in my first teaching
job, in 1999. Teaching Year 4 was not the
job I had actually applied for but accepting
was a no-brainer. The school had a
vibrancy that is hard to define; the warmth
and humour, the relaxed approach and yet
also the high standards were clear to see.
I immediately felt totally at home.
How has your career developed?
After I became Head of Year 7, John
Baugh asked me to consider
becoming Director of Sport, and
to take over a Boarding House
temporarily. It was yes to
both, without hesitation.
I loved running sport.
After a while Activities
were added so
I rather grandly
became ‘Director
of the Extended
Orchestrating the
staffing of each
day’s events was
very satisfying. I
also taught some
The school had a vibrancy...
the warmth, and humour,
the relaxed approach and
yet also the high standards
were clear to me.
Gareth Jones
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