St Edward's Oxford

Logo of St Edward's Oxford

Pupils Info

Gender – Co-Ed School
Age range – Age 13-18
Number of pupils on roll – 679 Pupils

Characteristics

Average Class Size: 20
Day and Boarding School
Oxbridge Entrance Percentage: 2%
Day: £25,671 Boarding: £32,082
A* to B at A-Level Percentage: 74%

SUMMARY

150 years old this year, St Edward’s Oxford (or Teddies, as it is more affectionately known) occupies 100 acres of prime north Oxford real estate. It is just a couple of minutes from the vibrant high street of Summertown with cafes, restaurants and increasingly trendy shops, and just a mile from the centre of Oxford. The Gothic style buildings make up the original part of the school are set around a central quad, much like many of the Oxford colleges and the sets of Inspector Morse and Lewis. Meanwhile, the place is brimming with impressive modern facilities. This is, at least in part, thanks to the School’s entrepreneurial approach to sharing certain facilities local clubs and organisations; for example, its excellent sporting facilities are shared with the Oxfordshire Sports Centre. This doesn’t disrupt the everyday routine of the boys and girls, but ensures that money is in the coffers for, let’s say, their brand new Music centre.

Background and Reputation

After the appointment of Stephen Jones in 2011, a tide of change came about. Previously known as a school for those who hadn’t quite peaked by 13+ but had potential to do well, the academic bar at St Edward’s is rising. The Warden and this shift in priorities are respected by pupils and parents alike: “Realistically, the school needed to become more academic,” states Boy A, “there was this sense of floundering beforehand”. He is also quick to note that this does not mean teachers are piling on the pressure; there is just a little more emphasis placed on working harder than in bygone days. With its modern facilities and its links with Oxford (there are regular classroom visits from Oxford University academics), St Edward’s is a decent, well- rounded school where the boys and girls rub along well together without too much sexual tension (though rather a lot of mascara). Pupils describe it as “happy,” “well run,” and “with something for everyone” – sounds good to us.

Academic and Exit Results

The academic ability and, indeed, academic ambition is varied in Teddies pupils. Scholars are taught in their own classes, allowing them to be stretched to their full potential. Equally those with SEN are brilliantly supported by excellent and free (parents, can you believe it?) learning support department. Academic facilities are described as, “good, generally,” by Girl A. She expands: while the old Science block is not completely state- of-the-art, the new Biology block is, and while the oldest classroom block is, “always the wrong temperature,” classrooms are otherwise modern and fitted with all the latest technology. The pioneering Sesame System allows academic monitoring and the creation of long-term reports from data collected in real time. Teachers use the system to record behaviour of ‘merit’ or ‘offence’, with the option of adding notes, after each lesson. This shows a modern school embracing modern technology to the benefit of its students and parents. Technophobes, fear not; there are still good old parents evenings for you to get face-to-face time with your child’s teachers. Pupils take nine or ten GCSEs, with IGCSEs taken in the core subjects. Interestingly, no one takes English Literature GCSE. In its place is a non-examined subject that covers literature, ethics and politics. Exploration outside of the curriculum is further encouraged by the scholars’ societies – OX2 (lower school) and The Woodstock Group (senior school) – discussion forums led by pupils, in which all may participate. Girl A talked affectionately of interesting religious discussion groups organised by the Chaplain. In Sixth Form, pupils choose between IB and A levels. Depending on their choice, they also undertake either the Extended Project Qualification (A level) or the Extended Essay (EE), both of which are fantastic preparation for the resourcefulness and self-motivation required by higher education. Theory of Knowledge and Taught Skills courses also add to the already brimming academic enrichment schedule in Sixth Form. Results tend to be good, and are improving. A very respectable 10 percent of pupils go on to study at Oxbridge from each year, while others proceed mostly to Russell Group or 1994 institutions. An encouragingly wide range of university courses are chosen by the alumni.

Social and Pastoral

Of St Edward’s 680 pupils, 80 percent are boarders. The school takes measures to ensure the inclusion of its substantial numbers of day boys and girls, and each of the twelve houses contains a mixture of boarders and day pupils. Boy A confirms that there is no day/boarder divide – “everyone is integrated well.” As evidenced by the School’s Sesame System, it is important to the Teddies staff that they are up-to-date with the daily challenges and needs of the pupils in their charge. In house, pupils are looked after by a housemistress or master, several house tutors and a house nurse. Plus there is a functioning peer support system with at least one ‘peer listener’ per house. The election of prefects is meritocratic (applications made by a CV), meaning that they also tend to be respected and well-liked figures to whom a student with an issue could turn. Boarding houses are of varying (but all adequate) standards, and Girl A recommends the newer ones (‘Avenue’, for example) as the nicest. ‘Jubilee’, opening in September 2013, will even out the girl/boy proportion of the school. Plus reports say it’s very nice. Day pupils are generally expected to stay until 9pm, and so work alongside boarders in the houses and even have their own beds (in case they’re too busy to make it home). The food is described somewhat unenthusiastically as “alright” (by Girl A, who advises avoiding anything that seems adventurous) and “not great” (by Boy A, who says the problem is that it’s all cooked on a mass scale). Weekends are usually fun with pupils having the joys (and freedom) of Oxford, plus regular Saturday night activities. However, says Girl A, “with London so close, school can seem a bit boring”. Many of the School’s staff live in and there is a homely feel to the place. General consensus is that bullying is all but non-existent, and the same goes for drug abuse. People do drink and smoke a bit, but the school is “fairly strict,” and “it occurs no more than at any other school,” says Boy A; maybe use your own judgement on this one as Teddies does a reputation for accepting those who were kicked out of other schools for drugs, drinking and smoking offences.

Sport, Art, Music and Drama

By all means, Teddies holds its own. However, it could not be described as a top sports school. Cricket and Hockey are the main sports, but the School’s huge range of facilities means they can cater for all tastes. State-of-the-art gym equipment, studios and swimming pools are found in the shared Oxfordshire Sports Centre, and the school also boasts a new Cricket pavilion, a nine-hole golf course and its own boathouse. Girl A reflects that there is “a good amount of sport – everyone does a bit [roughly 3 hours a week] and it’s up to you if you want to do more”. Teddies caters very well for the Arts. “There’s loads of music, drama and art – this is where the school lives up to its well- rounded reputation,” says Girl A. The Drama department take plays to the Edinburgh Fringe; Art is by no means confined to Fine Art; and the new Music block is causing much excitement. The School’s own North Wall Gallery provides a space to exhibit its pupils’ works of art, on sale and open to the general public. Meanwhile, Wednesday afternoons can be given over to art activity – for those with creative flair who do not wish to take exams in the Arts.

Extracurricular

There are plenty of extra-curricular activities on offer, from cycle maintenance to clay pigeon shooting, but “people don’t tend to get that into them,” according to Girl A. Nevertheless, the Shell (first year) ‘Circus’ is there to encourage pupils to sample some of the many options, thereby finding new skills and passions. Boy A thinks this is a positive thing, as it “lets you see as much of the school as you can.”

For careers and future guidance, pupils have a network of school advisers to turn to, plus a wider Careers Support Network of parents, friends and Old St Edwards. This assistance is also offered freely to OSEs after they leave the school, which is a friendly touch.

Contact

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