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Living in Oxford and North Oxfordshire

From dreamy hamlets to dreaming spires, Blenheim Palace to Bicester Village, you’re bound to find your tribe in Oxfordshire. Oxford offers city life (‘London lite’, émigrés call it). Bike up the canal, fleeing tourists and Harry Potter memorabilia, to Jericho or Summertown; take a dip in the river at Port Meadow or wander around the coffee shops. You’ll get more bang for your buck (and a Waitrose) in Headington; Oxford’s edgier hang-outs are up Cowley or Iffley Roads (‘it’s where we go to scratch our Hackney itch’, locals told us). 

Head north or west for bucolic country living. Drive towards Gloucestershire for classic Cotswolds villages, Farrow and Ball front doors and Cath Kidston crockery. Towards Warwickshire the landscape gets rugged and the four-by-fours muddier. Nip into Chipping Norton (‘Chippy’) for your groceries; sort your Christmas shopping at Daylesford Organic or Burford Garden Centre (a misnomer: it’s more a lifestyle emporium); trains from Banbury, Bicester and Oxford Parkway (Chiltern line) or Charlbury (Cotswolds line) will have you into Marylebone or Paddington in a jiffy. Hook ‘Hooky’ Norton for local ales, Woodstock for homemade ice cream or Diddly Squat, Jeremy Clarkson’s infamous farm shop, for fine local produce including gin-in-a-tin and a baseball cap with a tractor on it. The Camerons and the Beckhams have been here for years; it’s no wonder that so many joined them in the great covid ‘Oxodus’, when most of Notting Hill upped sticks to this #blessed part of the world. 



Education scene in Oxford and north Oxfordshire

Local Education Authorities in Oxford and North Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire County Council

For a thousand years, clever boys (and latterly girls) have been coming to Oxford to get even cleverer. Since then, a lively school landscape has emerged in Oxford and its surrounding countryside. Village primaries, often with Church of England foundations, give pupils an idyllic start. Town primaries are super, too, particularly in Oxford itself. For C of E schools (unlike Catholic schools) you don’t usually need to attend church, though being active in the parish sometimes helps so check admissions criteria. They’re not as oversubscribed as you fear, particularly if you’re coming from London; many lose pupils to preps from year 2 onwards, creating space to join higher up the school. 

Pupils move to comprehensive secondary schools in year 7. There are no grammar schools in Oxfordshire and the county's comprehensives vary considerably; we’ll steer you towards the best. Admissions are organised around designated areas, again, and managed by the County Council. At the most desirable secondaries you aren’t guaranteed a place even if you live within catchment. 

As well Oxford itself, this guide takes in a broad look at North Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds with Banbury, Bicester, Burford, Charlbury, Chipping Norton, Witney and Woodstock receiving particular attention.

Looking for the best schools in Oxfordshire? Our education consultants can help

Every day, Good Schools Guide education consultants successfully help parents from all over the world find the best schools for their children. Our UK team is spread out across the country, each expert with their own specialist areas of knowledge. If you would like us to help you find a school place or are keen to know more about your family’s education options in Oxford and north Oxfordshire, we are ready to help. Read about our education consultancy services or get in touch. Read about our education consultancy services or get in touch by emailing [email protected] 

Your experience of education in Oxfordshire

Are you tuned in to the Oxfordshire education scene? We rely on parents and teachers who have been there, done that and got the school blazer to keep us informed and to guarantee that the information we publish stays fresh and useful. If you know something about schools round your way which would help other families reach decisions – good or bad, do let us know!  [email protected]

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