This month, we talk to the Admissions Registrar at the Dragon School, Kate Heath, about what parents should be looking for in a school for their children – and how the Dragon is supporting modern family life.
Can you tell us a little bit about your role at the Dragon School?
As the Admissions Registrar, I meet every family that’s considering the Dragon as a school for their child – or children. Choosing the right school for each child is very important and we hope to make this process as smooth as possible, providing the right advice for each child, and taking into account the different circumstances for every family. For many, a move to a different school can also involve a relocation of home and career, and we recognise the complexities involved in this.
What do you think makes the Dragon School stand out?
A respectful staff/pupil relationship is key to positive learning and engagement in our community; children are happy to chat to staff, ask questions, share their thoughts and aspirations. Staff are keen to encourage independent thinkers and doers, and to support children in their endeavours.
There is a real breadth of curricular and extracurricular opportunity at the Dragon, from taught lessons in computer coding and thinking skills, to sailing and sculling clubs, and weekly evening talks from a range of speakers.
The Dragon School is highly regarded both nationally and internationally – how do you think the school maintains its reputation and desirability?
While staying true to our traditions of providing a liberal education, we are a progressive school that moves with the times. Behind the energy and enthusiasm of the pupils that is on constant display, there is a rigour born of creative teaching and an aspirational approach.
What role do you think independent schools play in the UK education system?
With a wealth of facilities, independent schools can often provide a breadth of opportunity beyond the classroom that other schools may not – including sport, music, drama and a plethora of activities to experience. Many schools also provide the opportunity to board, and the Dragon offers a range of boarding options for both local and overseas pupils. We aim to support modern family life – especially when parents work or travel, or live overseas – so that parents can be safe in the knowledge that their children are well-cared-for and purposefully engaged throughout the week.
What are the top three things parents should be looking for when they choose a school for their child?
First of all, one that fits their child at that stage, but where there is also room for the child to grow as a learner. Then there’s breadth of opportunity – a broad extracurricular programme can help develop the skills of leadership, teamwork, diplomacy and resilience; skills that are even more important in the workplace and in our society today.
Finally, diversity in all its forms – a varied curriculum that does not take away from delivering a challenging academic programme to pupils, a spectrum of extracurricular options and a diverse community.
As a co-educational day and boarding school, we have a wonderfully balanced community, where international pupils from 30 different countries learn alongside those who live just around the corner. In a small, but increasingly multicultural world, it’s important that our children look outwards and understand the world through their engagement with their peers.
What are the key qualities you look for when you meet prospective students?
Curious, enthusiastic children who are prepared to question; those who are not afraid to stand out, yet are prepared to fit in.
If there is one thing you would like a Dragon student to take away for life, what would it be?
An insatiable curiosity for learning, discovery and the understanding that the key to success is human engagement. A realisation that their Dragon days were ones where they could feel free to be children, to explore, to absorb and to make friends. The learning should be invisible.