Skip to main content

< Primary Schools Oxford and North Oxfordshire Guide Private Schools >

Best secondary schools in Oxford

Best secondary schools in Banbury and Bicester

Best secondary schools in west Oxfordshire

Special Educational Needs

Pupil at Burford SchoolOxfordshire’s secondary schools are all comprehensive. Siblings always trump; attending a feeder primary or living in catchment helps. If you don’t tick any boxes you’re still in with a chance, because many end up taking some pupils based on distance from school to home. Check how places were allocated in recent years on the Council’s website, which is (quite) user-friendly. Be aware that for Catholic secondary schools (Blessed George Napier Catholic School and Greyfriars Catholic School) you will need a baptism certificate; there is no similar requirement for Church of England secondary schools, where faith is not one of the admissions criteria. Our article on secondary school admissions is recommended reading to anyone researching these schools. 

Secondary schools in Oxford

Oxford has many selling points when it comes to education but its state secondaries are not among them. Those who can scrape together the fees or apply for means-tested bursaries to go private. The Cherwell School is ‘state school of choice to the great and good of Oxford’s academic and medical set’, according to our reviewer, though even living in catchment does not guarantee a place. Pressure should be eased by the arrival of The Swan School, part of the same trust, but without GCSE results yet, this requires a leap of faith. Headington families look at Cheney School; if you’re right on the edge of town you could consider Wheatley Park School, covered in our ‘South Oxfordshire’ guide. In the Botley area, Matthew Arnold School is well thought of, and you may be able to pick up Bartholomew, too (see above).

Best state primary schools in Oxford

Best private schools in Oxford

Best nurseries in Oxford

Secondary schools: near Banbury and Bicester

The Warriner School, on the edge of Bloxham, has a catchment which wiggles around Banbury, picking up surrounding villages. We spoke to parents who were unsure whether the school is as super-duper as it once was, but around here it’s the natural choice. Chipping Norton School has good pastoral care.

Grammar schools near Banbury and Bicester

There are no grammar schools in Oxfordshire itself but North and west of Banbury you’re in the ‘Southern Priority Circle’ for Warwickshire grammars, which require high scores in the 11+ test before a council application. Boys at King Edward VI School (KES) are ‘busy, purposeful, happy’, exhibiting ‘kindness and exemplary manners’, says our review; Stratford Girls Grammar School shows girls that ‘the world is their oyster’. We wonder if KES alumnus William Shakespeare ever went to the joint school discos?

Those Buckinghamshire-way could look at Royal Latin School, requiring high scores in their Secondary Transfer Test before applying through the council. See our guide to South Oxfordshire if you’re serious about pursuing grammars, because you’d be better off towards Thame, or, even better, our guide to Buckinghamshire itself…

Best state primary schools in Banbury and Bicester

Best private schools in Banbury and Bicester

Best nurseries in Banbury and Bicester

Secondary schools in west Oxfordshire

You’ve got Chipping Norton School, (see above), whose designated area stretches from Kingham to the Bartons – and you should get in from about four miles outside it. Live in catchment for Bartholomew School, in Eynsham, which is well thought of and more villagey than nearby Witney schools. Burford School offers ‘a bedrock academic education and an ever-evolving creative experience’, according to our reviewer (and boarding – see Oxfordshire boarding schools). The Cotswold School is also worth a shot – children hop on buses from Chipping Norton, Charlbury, Hook Norton – though you won’t fall within the priority catchment unless you live in Gloucestershire.

Best state primary schools in west Oxfordshire

Best private schools in west Oxfordshire

Best nurseries in west Oxfordshire

State secondary schools for children with special educational needs in Oxford and north Oxfordshire

All of these start at primary level – see Oxford and North Oxfordshire Primary Schools

< Primary Schools Oxford and North Oxfordshire Guide Private Schools >

Most popular Good Schools Guide articles

  • Special educational needs introduction

    Need help? Perhaps you suspect your child has some learning difficulty and you would like advice on what you should do. Or perhaps it is becoming clear that your child's current school is not working for him or her, and you need help to find a mainstream school which has better SEN provision, or to find a special school which will best cater for your child's area of need. Our SEN consultancy team advises on both special schools, and the mainstream schools with good SEN support, from reception through to the specialist colleges for 19+. Special Educational Needs Index

  • The Good Schools Guide International

    Find top international, British, IB and American schools in over 40 countries. The Good Schools Guide International publishes impartial and forthright reviews of international schools across the world.

  • Grammar schools best value added

    We examined the value-added from KS2 to GCSE for 2022 to see which state selective grammar schools added the most value to their offspring. A note of caution - the more highly selective a grammar school, the less scope there will be to add value.

  • Grammar schools in the UK

    Grammar schools are state-funded, academically selective senior schools. The education a child receives at grammar school is paid for by the state unlike at private schools which provide education for a fee. There are currently around 163 located in 36 English local authorities, with around 167,000 pupils between them. Northern Ireland has a further 67 grammar schools, but there are none in Wales or Scotland. A word of caution: there are private schools that have the word 'grammar' in their name but this is purely for historical reasons. 

  • Music, drama and dance at Performing Arts schools

    At specialist music, dance or performing arts schools, the arts aren't optional extras. They’re intrinsic to the school curriculum. Students are expected to fit in high level training and hours of practice alongside a full academic provision. It's a lot to ask any child to take on, but for those with exceptional performing ability this kind of education can be transformative.

Subscribe for instant access to in-depth reviews:

☑ 30,000 Independent, state and special schools in our parent-friendly interactive directory
☑ Instant access to in-depth UK school reviews
☑ Honest, opinionated and fearless independent reviews of over 1,200 schools
☑ Independent tutor company reviews

Try before you buy - The Charter School Southwark

Buy Now

GSG Blog >

The Good Schools Guide newsletter

Educational insight in your inbox. Sign up for our popular newsletters.


Our most recent newsletter: