Boarding Dragons
7
D R A G O N S T O D A Y . W I N T E R 2 0 1 2 / 1 3
Charlbury’s festive photo,
used to decorate their
Christmas cards
Baking flapjacks in School House
Stradlings combine talents
for a festival of music
Cherwell wrap up
warmly for a walk in
the snow
Pancake night in
Stuart-Clark’s
Not just Homework
Ginny Brown, Houseparent,
Stringer’s – Girls’ Middle House
The girls do prep in school, so I don’t
take an active part at the time of doing it.
However, if a girl needs more time, prep
will be brought back to House and done
in a quiet moment. If they are really stuck
I can help in more detail individually. In
this Middle House I am their academic
tutor as well as Houseparent and so have a
complete picture of the girls’ life at school; I
can ensure that tutor times and after school
are used to keep up with preps and handle
academic demands.
All of this prepares the girls well for
their Senior House. They settle into prep
quickly, aware of the timings and what
needs to be done. In the summer term
there is also more revision in House; all
these study habits are a great foundation
for the more demanding final years.
I am also keen that the girls relax. Like
all pupils, the girls have a huge range of
Clubs and Activities to provide fun and
learning after school. Like all boarders,
they also enjoy activities back in House;
after prep they might do something active
like swimming or benchball, or something
artistic or creative – scrapbooks are very
popular. There is time for socialising and
quiet reading.”
Life beyond the Dragon
Rob Dow, Houseparent,
Gunga Din – Boys’ Senior House
Dragon boarders gain a huge range of skills
that stand them in excellent stead for the
transition to boarding schools at thirteen.
Foremost is the ability to get on with
a room full of your peers, whether friend,
foe or something in-between. Accepting
differences; learning to be friendly if not
best friends; respecting personal space:
all qualities that boarders develop at the
Dragon. Many of us know adults who still
don’t have these skills!
Academically, the great benefit is
independent work habits. Whilst not
always a smooth journey, boarders
undoubtedly leave with the ability to plan,
get organised and work under their own
steam. Prep at school will never be quite
the same as a parent sitting down with
their son or daughter. However, the work
will be the child’s alone, it will be done in
the allocated time, not strung out between
TV programmes, and there is no argument
about it.
There is also always someone to
share things with as a boarder, too - a
forgotten book, a vocab list or worksheet.
Most usefully of all, boys and girls have
the huge advantage of shared revision.
“Clubs” spring up, often pre-breakfast
when minds are fresh. The momentum
of this is impressive, and certainly grade-
changing. Driven by the pupils themselves
(with Houseparents quietly steering in the
background) there is none of the pressure
that can develop from an anxious parent
badgering an ever-more anxious child.
Boarders’ independence and self-
reliance are slowly built up from making
their own beds, through dividing up free-
time, to choosing friendship groups. Such
decision-making skills are learnt naturally
with responsibility increasing as the
children mature.
Boarding is not the only way to
prepare for senior school, and it is
certainly not for every child or family – but
the skills that boarders pick up at the
Dragon will be invaluable to them at senior
school, and indeed beyond.”
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