Boarding Dragons
D R A G O N S T O D A Y . W I N T E R 2 0 1 2 / 1 3
Independent Learning
Mark White, Deputy Head Academic
When ‘preparatory schools’ were set up
over a century ago, their sole purpose was
to ‘prepare’ children for senior school.
At the Dragon today we want children to
acquire skills and qualities that will sustain
them into adult life. One of the most vital
is independent learning. All Dragons are
encouraged to think for themselves so that
their learning becomes more meaningful
and deep-rooted.
Children who have managed their
own learning will find the demands of
senior school less daunting. For boarders,
prep at school is key to this. Increasing
from 30 minutes in Year 4 to 60 minutes
in Year 8, prep is done in the evening in
small groups supervised by a designated
teacher. This defined period helps children
to use their time effectively and the teacher
promotes a positive work environment as
well as guiding learning and answering
In setting prep, teachers are
encouraged to foster creative thinking.
Whilst traditional tasks always have a place
‒ vocabulary, comprehension, problem
solving ‒ there is also scope for children
to strengthen understanding in different
ways. The ICT suites are fully supervised
during prep to allow children to investigate
a subject or communicate new ideas.
It is not only the presence of adults
that matters. Children learn much from
each other about how to study and be
organised. Seeing others tackle similar
tasks helps to model what is expected
and also builds a sense of camaraderie
amongst the boarding community.
Boarders’ prep enables children to focus
on their own learning and gain working
habits for life in a supportive environment,
where the care and attention given to
children during the day can be continued
into the evening.”
How does boarding support the academic life of a child at the
Dragon? The significant proportion of scholarships and prizes
awarded to boarders each year is testament to the benefits of
organised prep and self-guided study. Boarders acquire the
ability to manage their time and their own work. With this
experience, settling into new and often more complicated
systems at senior school becomes relatively seamless.
spoke to senior staff about the homework, revision and
learning skills that underpin success at prep school, senior
school and beyond.
Gunga Din climb trees
on an In-House weekend
A birthday
celebration at
Stringer’s relax in
the garden on a
warm September
A ‘Harry Potter’
themed dining
experience at
playing in the
1,2,3,4,5 7,8,9,10,11,12