Dragons Today Winter 2013-14 - page 5

How does art interact with other
subjects and learning?
I believe that the independent thinking and
creative processing picked up in art lessons
enhance children’s ability to understand
what is actually going on around them - the
colours, shapes and even the sounds. The
creative process helps with so many aspects of
learning: drawing mind maps, using colour
in geography, or making a 3D cell in Science
for example.
How are potential scholars identified?
At the end of Year 5 all pupils sit a
standardised observational drawing test
which, coupled with the potential shown in
class, enables us to select the most promising
artists for extra art sessions. We reassess this
group at the end of Year 6, and add some
new faces who may have developed later
than others.
So far this year we have seven art awards
to senior schools, three full scholarships and
four exhibitions. We maintain a good ratio
of success in this area though of course we
always strive to improve. It must also be said
that even those children who are unsuccessful
in gaining an award achieve great success
in creating an extensive and well-crafted
portfolio of artwork, and we make sure they
are aware of this.
What does learning and doing art
mean to Dragon pupils?
They can develop self-expression and
creative thought through the freedom and
space of art lessons. And while not every
child necessarily enjoys the demands of
observational drawing, they all relish the
range of activities and skills that they study.
How does art at the Dragon influence
senior school or later life?
Many pupils progress to GCSE and A Level.
I like to keep in touch with their work where
possible - it is such a treat to see how their
skills and ideas have developed. One former
Dragon awarded a scholarship to her senior
school is now hoping to study costume
design at University, having mastered the
creation and construction of costumes using
a 3D printer. It is amazing to hear how
technology is being utilised in the creative
process, but we can’t forget that it all starts
with the humble pencil.
From the Headmaster
Ordered Freedom
It is almost twelve years since I arrived at the
Dragon and it remains a great privilege to help
guide this fine school through the early part
of this century. Within a few days of my arrival
in 2002, I was asked by the then Chairman of
Governors, Nick Kane, to see if I could distil
the ethos of the Dragon into a short phrase,
or even a word; he gave me a term to do it. As
Christmas approached, and my first Governors’
meeting arrived, I went up to Nick over tea and
said “relaxed rigour”. He smiled, said nothing,
nodded, smiled again and sipped his tea.
Since that day, “relaxed rigour” - or “robust
informality”, as some have since defined it -
has been a major part of my life. I have loved
every minute of it. When we were inspected in
2006, the Reporting Inspector commended
us for “walking a tightrope” – one side rigour
and robustness: the other relaxed and informal
- and urged us to have the courage to keep
walking. He recognized, as many do if they look
beyond the flapping shirt-tails and helter-skelter
excitement, a real sense of purpose and calm
at the Dragon.
So, imagine my delight when I found a
passage in a document written well over half a
century ago that, for me, sums up the Dragon
today – and yesterday:
“Education thus presents itself as at once
preparation for life and an irreplaceable part
of life itself: Hence the good school is to
be assessed not by any tale of examination
successes, however impressive, but by the extent
to which it has filled the years of youth with
security, graciousness and ordered freedom,
and has thus been the seed-bed for the flowering
in due season of all that is of good report.”
Secondary Education : A Report of
The Advisory Council on Education
in Scotland, 1947
Therefore, if you would like evidence that
children can attain the most extraordinary
things in an environment that gives them the
space and “ordered freedom” to be children,
you need to visit the Dragon.
Speaking of inspections, let’s leave the
final word to the Board of Education, 1930
“The Headmaster watches attentively the
trend of modern ideas on education,
especially as regards the due balancing of
freedom and restraint. He is on his guard
against any sacrificing of spontaneity and
vitality to mechanical regularity.
“In its essential frankness and naturalness
the demeanour of the pupils is most attractive,
and the freedom from artificiality in the relations
between the boys and the Masters and the
wholesome zest with which school life is lived
cannot fail to be appreciated by all who are
brought into contact with them.
“These things are characteristic of the best
Preparatory Schools today but they are
particularly conspicuous here.”
Board of Education, Report of Dragon
School, Oxford. 14-17 October 1930.
D R A G O N S T O D A Y . w i n t e r 2 0 1 3 / 1 4
1,2,3,4 6,7,8,9,10,11,12
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