Sign up now for FREE to read our insider reviews in full Sign Up Now
Dragon School Oxford, Oxfordshire Visit
school
Dragon School
Oxford
798 pupils, ages 4-13
Mixed
Day and Boarding

Dragon School

Open all

Our view

‘You’re never not proud to be a Dragon,’ our pupil guide told us – and with praise like this, what more could you possibly ask of a school? This big, buzzy, hugely popular Oxford powerhouse does everything on a large scale and, with its incredible mix of characters, manages to teach everyone to rub along pretty well together too.

Where?

Located down a quiet side street in leafy north Oxford and sandwiched between a clutch of university colleges, The Dragon is not far from Oxford High School and Teddies. It doesn’t have a long driveway or grand façade; instead, its school buildings meld with the residential ones. Pupils quickly learn to cross the road between the main school site (where the academic, schooly bits generally happen) on one side and the boarding houses and dining room on the other, which creates a lovely sense of ‘going home’ each evening for boarders. 

The campus is vast, with fabulous views to the hills beyond and a spread of facilities housed in attractive old houses and up-to-the-minute science, art and music blocks. Despite the bumper number of pupils (630 in the prep, another 200 at the pre-prep just up the road in Summertown), it doesn’t feel the slightest bit overcrowded. Having so much space feels like great preparation for leavers too, when they suddenly become small fish in very big-senior school ponds.

Head

It’s all change at the top – Dr Crispin Hyde-Dunn moved on to pastures new this summer, passing the baton over to Emma Goldsmith, who’s arrived from Winchester House. Her appointment was met by a collective cheer – she’s one of our favourite heads on the prep school circuit, and The Dragon’s very first female head. Wonderfully charismatic, hugely approachable and hot on kindness and communication, Mrs Goldsmith is a stellar appointment for the school – and we can’t wait to see what she’s got in store.

Admissions

The pre-prep is bursting at the seams, get in quick for a place in Reception. We’d suggest registering at birth for entry into the prep too. It is broadly non-selective, so pupils on the list are invited to join a normal school day to meet staff and pupils and sit a very gentle assessment designed to measure potential rather than attainment. It’s much easier to bag a boarding place than a day one, so if the school is top of your list, changing tack might up your chances. Occasionally, entrance further up the school is possible – The Dragon sometimes scoops up Year 7 pupils destined for Radley to get them over the final finish line.

Academics and senior school destinations

Studious hour-long lessons promote proper, knuckled-down learning (and less faffing in between), but there’s huge respect for a decent work-life balance (heads down in the week, chill out at weekends). Here, the focus is on nurturing natural curiosity: ‘if a culture of questioning is embedded at an early age, it will encourage an enthusiasm to lead a lifetime of learning’, says Mrs Goldsmith.  

Classroom life is deceptively relaxed: teachers swish around in jeans; there’s limited setting early on (scholars aren’t singled out until Year 7); pupils get to scribble on walls with funky ‘ideas paint’; and Saturday school has been scrapped in favour of a shiny new ‘Dragon Quest’ programme, where pupils fling on their home clothes and do cool stuff like yoga, debating, animation and orienteering. It’s compulsory for boarders and optional for everyone else – but if we were a day pupil, we’d be rushing back. 

 Pupils are brilliantly prepared for senior schools, with thinking skills for Year 4 (great prep for the ISEB pre-test), drilling down in Year 5 (heaps of verbal and quantitative reasoning to pep up their brains) and bespoke interview practice in Year 6 to build up confidence. A handful of girls usually peel off to Oxford day schools at 11+, but as this is a standalone prep, the 13+ destination list is much more diverse, with Headington, Wycombe Abbey, Eton, Marlborough, Teddies and Wellington all proving popular next steps.

Co-curricular

If you’re sporty, your luck is in: the sheer scale of the school translates to a silly number of sports on offer, and everyone gets a go at representing the school. With the Cherwell meandering through the grounds, sculling is a biggie; then there are acres of sports pitches, a great indoor pool, Olympic-sized Astros and tennis and netball courts (often borrowed by neighbours Oxford High). Quirkier options include riding, golf, climbing, archery and dance, and each year pupils head off on sun-soaked sports tours to South Africa and Mallorca.

Activities are cleverly embedded into the timetable, so no one is too busy to miss out – and masses of extra clubs after the final bell give pupils the chance to try everything from bridge to beekeeping. The art room brims with paint-splattered mini-creatives; everyone learning an instrument must join an ensemble (so there’s no excuse not to practice) and each term is packed with drama productions. The philanthropy here is phenomenal – the annual pupil-and parent-run Christmas sale often raises £10,000 – and children love bagging service credits via the Dragon Award scheme, which might see them helping out in the library or assisting with junior games.

Boarding

The boarding model has been recently altered to suit a growing appetite for more flexible options. Alongside the full and day boarders (who get their own bed and choose up to four nights a week to stay over), there’s a new cohort of flexi boarders, who can ring up and book in as late as the week before. Around two-thirds stay in (with numbers peaking in the top two years), so this feels like a proper 24/7 school. They've recently launched an escorted coach service to ship pupils up and down from London, too - with a weekly bus returning pupils to school on a Sunday afternoon.  Weekends are filled with matches and plenty of organised fun (lip-sync battle evenings are the best, our pupil guide tells us).

School community

Most day pupils tend to live within a 45-minute commute, with lots of Oxfordshire-based families. Others represent 25 nationalities, so there’s a healthy diversity too, and a clutch of ‘transformative’ bursaries targeting local children – so do enquire. Word on the parent grapevine is this is a seriously warm, friendly community (and financially secure too – generous parents donated several millions for the music school).

And finally...

The Dragon has a real knack at building the confidence its pupils need to thrive at senior school, and they’re often having so much fun they’re unaware of how much work they’re actually doing. This is a fun, carefree, happy place – and, as if by magic, produces the most fantastic results too. 

Gallery See All

Dragon School gallery image
Dragon School gallery image
Dragon School gallery image
Dragon School gallery image
Dragon School gallery image
Dragon School gallery image
Dragon School gallery image
Dragon School gallery image
Dragon School gallery image
Dragon School gallery image
  • Senior school destinations

    Senior school destinations

    30 schools in total - Top 10 as follows: St Edward’s School 19, Eton College 16, Rugby School 11, Marlborough College 9, Stowe School 8, Headington 7, Abingdon 6, Radley College 6, Harrow School 5, Magdalen College School 4, Oundle School 4, Wellington College 4,

  • Scholarships for senior schools

    Scholarships

    Academic17Abingdon School, Headington School, St Edward's School, Bloxham School, Magdalen College School, The Cheltenham Ladies' College, Eton College (King's), Oxford High School, Winchester College
    Music8 Clifton College, Magdalen College School, Rugby School, Harrow School, Marlborough College, St Edward’s School
    Drama7 Bloxham School, Headington School, St Edward's School, Harrow School, Malvern College
    Sport6 Magdalen College School, Stowe School, St Edward’s School, Radley College
    Art10 Cheltenham College, Headington School, St Edward's School, Cokethorpe School, Magdalen College School, The Cheltenham Ladies' College, D’Overbroeck's, Oxford High School, Tudor Hall School
    DT2 Marlborough College, St Edward’s School
    All Rounder5 Magdalen College School, St Edward's School, Fettes College, Oundle School, Stowe School


  • Fees and bursaries

    Day fees per term

    Nursery-
    Reception£4,239
    Year 1£4,710
    Year 2£4,851
    Year 3£5,573
    Year 4£7,473
    Year 5£7,473
    Year 6£7,473
    Year 7£7,473
    Year 8£7,473
    Boarding fees per term

    Nursery-
    Reception-
    Year 1-
    Year 2-
    Year 3-
    Year 4£10,931
    Year 5£10,931
    Year 6£10,931
    Year 7£10,931
    Year 8£10,931




    Bursaries
    Dragon School offers a number of fully funded bursaries to talented applicants who would otherwise be unable to afford to attend the school. These awards are means tested and awarded at the discretion of the school.

    They also offer an Armed Forces Discount for those in receipt of the CEA; a discount of 20% of fees will apply if Dragon boarding begins in the junior years (Years 4 to 6). Once awarded, the discount will continue through to, and inclusive of, Year 8 as long as the child continues to board and the family remains in receipt of the CEA grant.

    Dragon School also offers a 7.5% discount against boarding fees to parents who are employees of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office who are also in receipt of the CEA grant and whose children enter the School to board in Years 4 to 6 inclusive. Once awarded, the discount will continue through to, and inclusive of, Year 8 as long as the child continues to board and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office employee remains in receipt of the CEA grant.

    For more information please see the school website, which also contains contact information for the Admissions Team:

    dragonschool.org/admissions/bursaries-discounts/



    Bursary contact:
    Registrar Kate Heath
    bursar@dragonschool.org
  • SEND

    This school currently supports the following kinds of learning needs, health needs and physical disabilities:
    dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD

    This school currently delivers the following interventions to pupils in class and outside class to support their learning, health and/or physical needs:
    The Learning Support department aims to celebrate neurodiversity, raise confidence and help children learn in ways that play to their strengths and help to develop independent learning.
    The department is situated at the heart of the school, with an open area surrounded by specially designed teaching rooms. All staff have a qualification in teaching children with Specific Learning Difficulties. There is also a Speech and Language therapist who supports children with speech, language and social skills. The Department works in close conjunction with individual subject and form tutors to ensure that support is provided when and where necessary and within the context of the broader curriculum. There is an educational psychologist who visits the school.

    This school currently provides the following support for pupils' mental health needs
    There is a full-time school counsellor

    Co-ordinator: Jane Jackson jane.jackson@dragonschool.org
  • Transport links

    School Transport
    School bus service to/from London
    School daily bus network

    Public Transport
    Nearest mainline train station: Oxford Parkway and Oxford
    Journey time to London by train: 55 minutes
    Nearest international airport: Heathrow (46 miles)


  • Parents tell us

    ‘We chose the Dragon school as both siblings went there and it is a big school, so they have a huge range of children and everyone learns to get on with lots of different types of characters.

    The admissions process was easy as they had a sibling policy.

    The head Crispin Hyde-Dunn has only been at the prep for two years, but all the signs are good. Natalie Marshall (the deputy head of learning support at prep) was outstanding as she supported our son for five years.

    The school’s communication with parents is good. The pastoral care is good, with a new team in place under the new headmaster.

    The Dragon is preparing my children well for the next stage of their education because it is a big school, so it has an advantage in preparing for secondary school – the children learn to navigate a large school with different classes in different rooms, so they develop organisational skills. They also learn that there are many different types of people in this world.

    The school is becoming a flexi boarding/ weekly boarding school, so the majority of parents are Oxfordshire based. In the prep school they use Classlist to form the school community – which is a friendly service if you put a little bit of work in.

    As always, there is luck involved as to the peer group, but they are used to dealing with lots of different types of children. My advice to new parents would be to get involved with the Dragon Sale to meet other parents.'

School Updates

  • WATCH: Dragon School Boarding

  • WATCH: Everything you need to know about Dragon QUEST

  • Meet our new head, Emma Goldsmith

  • Emma Goldsmith appointed as new Head of Dragon School, Oxford

  • The changing face of Saturday school

  • Community in Action at Dragon School

    This winter, the Dragon is proud to have joined Oxford Mutual Aid’s efforts in supporting vulnerable people in the local community, the NHS, key workers and local aid organisations.
  • Learning in Lockdown

    The announcement of a new national lockdown in England necessitated major changes for the start of this new term.
  • Introducing Dragon QUEST

    Dragon School in Oxford has introduced a new enrichment curriculum to replace compulsory academic lessons on Saturday mornings for boarders and day pupils alike.
  • WATCH: Hear a parent talk about their experience of Dragon School

  • WATCH: Talk Education's Country Preps Focus - Dragon School

  • See Dragon School in our Country Preps Focus

    Find your perfect country prep school. Whether you're contemplating a move for your entire family or want to explore the education options within a daily minibus-ride of the capital, we can help.
  • WATCH: What will your Dragon be like?

Essentials

Address
Bardwell Road, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX2 6SS

Contact
admissions@dragonschool.org
01865 315405

Website
dragonschool.org

ISI Report

Fees

Term Dates


Open Days

Open days and how to visit View Open Days Register for open Day



Click for a larger version of map

Need help?

Don’t panic! We have more than ten years’ experience of visiting schools and advising parents, and we are all parents ourselves – we can make this easier for you.

Talk to our team