From the Headmaster
As we approach half-term, we have enjoyed another busy week. Last Friday saw the final of the Dragon Keyboard festival. The musical standard was extremely high and all competitors received valuable advice from our adjudicator Anne Martin-Jones of the Junior Royal College of Music. On Monday, we began with an assembly reflecting on the importance of individuality, with the tale of the mouse and the Lion reminding us that everyone has their own skills and strengths. On the same day we were delighted to share with you the results of our recent ISI Regulatory Compliance Inspection and to confirm that we were found fully compliant in our recent Inspection. Later that evening, I met a number of Old Dragons at a reunion event in London, all of whom spoke with great affection about our School.
We were visited this Wednesday by Mr Robin Fletcher, the current president of the Boarding Schools’ Association. To mark his visit and to celebrate our membership of the BSA, Mr Fletcher planted a pear tree in the garden of Bowden’s House – the 141st such tree to be planted in a BSA member school.
On Wednesday I observed C Block children undertaking a Maths unit assessment, which required skills of problem solving, measuring angles and interpreting bar graphs. I also observed some of the A Block pupils, who have already completed their senior school assessments, participating in the PEG (Post Exam Group) Science programme. They have been investigating the topic of outer space, with special projects including detailed research into black holes, the formation of stars and the composition of the moon. Elsewhere in the school, many children have been taking their exams, with the Battle of Bosworth and the 1588 Armada amongst the topics being discussed in the B Block History paper.
There has also been plenty of sporting endeavour with 112 children involved in the triathlon which took place at Marlborough last Sunday. This week has also seen some excellent victories for the girls in rounders against Winchester House and some fine cricket results from the boys playing against Cheam.
Today (Thursday), I am looking forward to seeing the Year 1 children performing the “Bee Musical”, for which they have been preparing with keen anticipation. This evening (Thursday) at school I also look forward to participating in the ‘Sebastopol Project’ and the promotion of the book “On Courage,” which commemorates those individuals who were awarded the Victoria Cross for their remarkable feats of bravery, and this distinguished list includes Old Dragons. Then on Friday morning, we will be hosting a ‘Future Schools Forum’ for parents of E, D and C Block children; D Block parents will also enjoy a performance of the Eco musical by their children.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some Staff news for the Academic Year 2018-19. We greatly appreciate the efforts and hard work of all our Staff and next half term there will be an opportunity to say a formal farewell to those Staff who will be leaving us at the end of this academic year. Our departing Staff will take with them our most grateful thanks and our very best wishes for their new endeavours. At the same time we also look forward to welcoming some new members to our community in September. Please see below a summary of the latest Staff news:
• Richard and Anna Wilson, currently in charge of Wilson’s one of our junior boys’ boarding houses, will take on the role of Gunga Din Houseparents. John and Sarah Warlow, our current Gunga Din Houseparents, have also taught History and French respectively and will be relocating to Malvern this summer.
• Charlotte Adams will be joining us as Head of Modern Foreign Languages to succeed Ed Smyth.
• Martin Barratt will be joining us as a teacher of History
• Simon Hitchings will be joining us as a teacher of Classics
• Simon Ammora will join us as an English teacher to succeed Nicola Swales
• Sophie Lawrie will join us to teach Middle School Maths, to succeed Alec Leslie
• Robyn Willis-Stovold will take up the post of Science teacher to succeed Scott Bolton.
• Harriette Griffiths-Jones will be joining us as assistant to the Director of Sport, succeeding Emily Hatcher.
• On the retirement of our library assistant, Gaynor Cooper, Massimo Iazetti has joined us.
As we draw to the close of this first half of the summer term, may I take this opportunity to thank you for your support of our School over the past few weeks and may I wish you a relaxing and refreshing Bank holiday weekend and half-term break.
With all best wishes,
There will be no Saturday morning swimming after half -term, this is due to other exciting scheduled events.
Scholarship/ CE Preparation Courses
A Block Parents Meet-Up
On Friday 6 July, there will be a dinner at the Cherwell Boathouse (organised by parents), for all A Block parents who wish to join. Emails have been sent through Classlist (and about 75 people have confirmed) but for those who are not on Classlist this is an extended invite.
As per the norm, after the June Exeat (week beginning 18 June) all athletics clubs on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and a Friday will be open only to those children competing at Mercia (squad members). It is very important that these children have a priority in the week leading up to this prestigious event. Following on from this (week beginning 25), athletics clubs will be open only to athletes qualifying for Nationals on 3 July. Form athletics starts on Saturday 23 June and all Games sessions from thereon will be athletics, as well as PE lessons, so children will get plenty of athletics time.
Davos Ski Trip
If you would like to order a beautiful Dragon School box, perhaps as a special leaving gift for this year's A Block, or an OD friend or family member, please contact Janet Murray of Boxes You Design. Click here for further details, or take a look at the display boxes available in Reception. 10% of all sales are kindly donated by Janet back to the school bursary fund.
Arduus ad Solem: Dragon Community Networking – Thursday 14 June 2018
Maths Beyond the Classroom
Armed with tape measures, cameras, clipboards and some excellent parent volunteers, Year 3 had a wonderful time making mathematical discoveries in University Parks on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. Measuring circumference to decipher the age of trees, spotting shapes, angles and lines, using estimation and working out park-life problems were just some of the skills the children developed. Smiling faces and enthusiastic discussions incorporating mathematical vocabulary, trial and error and super problem-solving skills were testament to how engaged the children were in their learning. A wonderfully active and practical afternoon experiencing Maths beyond the classroom was enjoyed by all, and Year 3 are grateful to their willing volunteers for helping to make this possible.
Year 2 children have been glued to the Swift Cam at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, as part of their learning about these fascinating creatures. They were very excited to see the swifts return at the start of May; we have followed their progress building nests inside the swift boxes and this week we spotted the first egg! We will continue to follow their development and hope to see chicks soon. The children are particularly excited about the prospect of the young birds doing ‘press-ups’ in preparation for their first flight which will happen in August. To raise awareness of the decline in swifts over the last few decades, the children have designed campaign T-Shirts in Literacy lesson, which they will be sporting tomorrow.
Reception Tea Sharing
Reception have been looking at the book Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox and discussing memories they have already made. In order to grow their memories, the children invited their grandparents to the Pre-Prep for a sharing tea. The weather gods blessed us with beautiful sunshine so we were able to take advantage of space in the playground. Children shared sandwiches, cakes, tea and, most importantly, memories with their guests. Both the visitors and children thoroughly enjoyed this special time with each other. Even the A Block PEG group fondly recall when their grandparents visited eight years ago.
71 very excited and eager Year 3 children headed to Bushcraft in Cornbury Park for their annual residential. On arrival, the children were greeted with a warm welcome from the Bushcraft Staff who lead us through the forest to our base camp for the night. The children were briefed, given safety expectations and shown to their yurts, so they could unpack and get ready for the busy day ahead. All children participated enthusiastically in the activities which included making a fire, building shelters, constructing traps (for animals and teachers), making wooden tent pegs with knives and playing camouflage and concealment games, the favourite being Predator. Lunch was cooked by the children themselves on the fires they had made. The children had different responsibilities around the camp including washing up and cleaning, they undertook all these with true Dragon maturity. The first day was rounded off with hot chocolate, marshmallows and stories around the campfire. The children slept in their yurts with 8 brave individuals choosing to sleep out in their shelters, constructed earlier in the day. The coach ride home was very quiet in comparison to the outward journey, lots of very exhausted but happy campers!
Picture the scene: Eight people in a hot air balloon. It's losing height and is about to plummet to the ground! Four famous faces must be thrown out to save the rest! Who gets to stay and who has to jump? This was the tough decision Year 3 faced when they met the Balloon Debate finalists; First, Captain James Cook the intrepid explorer, then the bold and daring author Enid Blyton, next came two clever and resourceful Florence Nightingales. Then, a hilarious David Walliams followed by medical marvel Alexander Van Tulleken and finally innovative survivalist Bear Grylls and a magical muggle named Hermione.
All eight children delivered powerfully persuasive speeches and should feel extremely proud, but in the end only four could be left in the balloon....congratulations Hermione Granger, David Walliams, Alexander Van Tulleken and Captain James Cook.
Girls’ cricket at the Dragon continues to grow, with numbers for Girls Club on a Monday increasing every week. In Year 4, one of the three weekly Games sessions is dedicated to cricket and they have already had fixtures this season against Cokethorpe and Chandlings. On the first Monday back after half-term, we have some Middle School matches scheduled against Oxford High, followed by a Cricket Festival planned for Games on 6 June where the focus will be on introducing cricket to the masses and having lots of fun with it. We also have female representation in some of our senior cricket sides, with Lottie and Rosie regularly turning out for the U10 As and 2nd XI respectively.
The Dragon is keen to promote the female game where possible and in partnership with Oxford University, our girls’ cricket club recently enjoyed a day of coaching in the Parks followed by some entertainment from the Oxford University Women v MCC Women match. It’s great to see so many girls of all ages getting involved and hopefully following in the footsteps of England’s World Cup winning team from last year. #DragonGirlsCan
The Dragon Athletes enjoyed a wonderful afternoon of sun and success at Radley’s superb Athletics facilities competing as boys and girls teams in an open field against many of the larger Schools in the area. A number of new PBs were recorded and it was great to see much of the hard work put in during training reaping its reward.
On the track, Maisie gave the girls’ team the perfect start, comfortably winning the Hurdles before Nathaniel (competing a year up) and Bea took 1st and 2nd in the 800m. Melissa, Miguel and Julian proved themselves fastest over 100m, 300m and 1500m respectively in their age groups before Ava broke the E Block school record in the 1500m. Trying out a new event, Basil added his name to the school records in the 300m to sit alongside his 100m and 200m. Our relay runners look in good shape too. The D Block teams of Aubrey, Zach, Monty and Charlie and Izzy, Lexie, Margot and Melissa both set School Records – something that the A Block boys are targeting too, just missing out by 0.7s this time round.
Success was not just limited to the track; Will and Ivan dominated the discus whilst Blessing and Basil won the High Jump and Triple Jump events with PBs. Izzy broke another school record with a fantastic leap in the Long Jump with Rosie impressing greatly with the Javelin, missing out on a record by just 5cm.
When the totals were added up it was announced that Dragon Boys had won both the Upper School and Middle School competitions with the Dragon Girls a very respectable 6th from 14 teams.
As impressive as all these sporting feats are, it was equally impressive to see the way that the A Block led their teams and supported each other throughout the afternoon. If future generations follow this example, the Dragon can look forward to success for years to come.
Dragon Piano Festival
Last Friday, 12 Dragon Pianists took part in the Dragon Keyboard Festival Final, adjudicated by Ann Martin-Davis from the Junior Royal College of Music. Wonderful performances of descriptive and imaginative pieces were given, ranging from ‘Asian Tiger Prowl’ to Grieg’s well-known ‘Notturno’, evocative of night-time in Norway. It was a lovely afternoon with the children receiving much praise for their performances alongside a couple of helpful tips to take away with them. The winners of the three classes were: Initial Sam, Intermediate Catherine and Advanced Robert.
E Block Form Singing Competition
Last Saturday saw the E Block taking part in the annual Lower School Form Singing Competition. There was much excitement in the MCLT as the children took to their seats to be introduced to soprano Charlotte Newstead who was there to adjudicate the competition. First to perform was 4BB who sang an enthusiastic and precise Bare Necessities. Next up was 4L with a toe tapping rendition of the Journey classic, Don’t Stop Believing. There was a poignant performance too from 4CJ of Sound of Silence, complete with harmonies. A Million Dreams from 4O proved to be a popular choice with the audience and also featured some lovely solo singing. Following that was a barnstorming performance by 4AF of the Elton John hit I’m still standing complete with choreographed moves, prop sunglasses and vocal arrangements. The competition was brought to a close with an enjoyable You Can Count on Me from 4A.
Not surprisingly the top spot went to 4AF followed by 4BB, with 4O in third place. Well done to this very musical year group!
Charity Cycle Ride
On Tuesday 29 May, Gavin will be cycling up the Tour de France famed climb, Alpe D’Huez. In the last few weeks, Gavin has raised over £500 of his £1,135 target (£1 for every meter climbed on the Alpe D’Huez). Thank you to all of you who have already supported this ride!
Cherwell High Tea
To mark the wedding of the now Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the Cherwell girls celebrated in true royal style by enjoying an afternoon filled with tea and scones. After watching the Royal wedding and judging the outfits, the party was moved to the backyard to enjoy the sunshine and high tea put together by the Cherwell matrons.
School House Royal Wedding
School House excitedly took part in the Royal Wedding fever that swept the nation this past weekend. Starting off on Friday at the Summer Fair, School House’s booths were donned proudly in colours of red, white and blue. Our most popular stall, playfully named “Drench the Boarding Assistant” allowed boys to throw sponges at their teachers, who hid behind a monarch themed peep board. When the long-awaited Saturday morning finally came, the Union Jack flew high above School House roof. The boys had the opportunity to watch the televised historic event as it played throughout the day in the School House den. Later the boys were treated to a delicious “Proudly British” themed afternoon tea in the lovely sunshine, eating an assortment of scrumptious red, white and blue cupcakes with cups of tea. Ultimately the boys enjoyed a very festive and patriotic weekend, one that they will surely fondly remember, as will the rest of the British public!
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