A leading private school with alumni such as Emma Watson, Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie has appointed its first female principal in 144 years.
Emma Goldsmith will take on the role of the £ 30,000 a year Dragon School in Oxfordshire from September.
She becomes the twelfth principal of the school in its 144-year history, succeeding Crispin Hyde-Dunn.
She said, “I am thrilled to be appointed head of the Dragon, it will be a privilege to lead this extraordinary school.
“The future is full of possibilities and I look forward to meeting the children, co-workers, parents and old dragons in the coming months.”
Emma Goldsmith (pictured) will be taking the role at Dragon School in Oxfordshire from September
She becomes the twelfth principal of the school in its 144-year history, succeeding Crispin Hyde-Dunn (photo file)
Founded in 1877 by a group from Oxford University dedicated to their own children, the Dragon School caters to students aged four to thirteen.
Former students included Tim Henman, Dom Joly, Hugh Laurie, Emma Watson, Jack Whitehall and Rory Stewart.
Ms. Goldsmith previously worked as a deputy headmaster at Bloxham School, Banbury, where she also worked as a housekeeper and founded the first girls’ boarding house.
She will go to the Dragon from her position as Head of Winchester House School, where she won Best Head of a Prep School at the Tatler Awards 2019.
Andrew Webb, Chairman of the Dragon Governors, said: “Emma brings a wealth of teaching and leadership experience, and we are excited about her deep understanding of the needs of students and their families.
“Her knowledge of both prep and high schools will be invaluable in ensuring the Dragon continues to lead the way in prep education.”
Harry Potter star Emma Watson (pictured in New York in 2019) was one of the school’s former students
Former students also include Tom Hiddleston (left) Tim Henman, Dom Joly, Hugh Laurie (right), Jack Whitehall and Rory Stewart
The school came under fire in September after changing the name of Gunga Din’s senior boys’ boarding house.
Named after Rudyard Kipling’s 1890 poem, the title was used at the school for over 80 years.
It is now known as Dragon House because the school claims, “Gunga” has now become derogatory, even used as a racist slur. “
The governors said the original name ‘comes from Rudyard Kipling’s poem of the same name’ and tells the story of Gunga Din, an Indian ‘bhishti’ or water bearer.
They say that Gunga Din remains faithful to those he serves and dies trying to save the English soldier who narrates the poem who says in the last line, “You are a better man than me, Gunga Din!”
Rudyard Kipling’s accomplishments seem to count little in 21st-century Britain – but an enraged former student wrote to the Dragon to discuss their personal ‘outrage’ over the boarding house’s name change.
By emphasizing the name, Gunga Din was chosen “to emphasize the higher ideals of equality, fairness and human dignity,” the governors added, “these are in line with Dragon’s current core values of kindness, courage and respect.”
But claiming that ‘Gunga’ has now become derogatory, the governors add ‘such a potentially offensive language is contrary to the dragon’s ethos of inclusivity and diversity’, and ‘is no longer appropriate’.
Saira Uppal, the Dragon’s Director of Development and External Relations, said: “The change is not a response to any comment or complaint.
“We respond to sensitivities that exist today.”
An enraged former student wrote to the school expressing their “outrage over the cowardly and absurd decision” to rename the guesthouse.
You have chosen to give way to ignorance and the deluded forces of political correctness …
This decision has failed generations of dragons. I’m embarrassed to call myself an OD and I never thought I’d say that. ‘
Kipling biographer Andrew Lycett, who has “no evidence that Gunga is being used as a racial slur,” said despite the change, he hopes students will continue to study the author and poem.