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Boarders at St Hugh's School, Oxfordshire

Nearly all boarding schools on this patch take day pupils too, so we’ve mentioned them in the private school section. Most preps accommodate weekly or flexiWinchester House and Beachborough offer boarding from year 3 though at Winchester House you’ll need to board weekly from year 7. Kitebrook offers weekly, flexible or occasional boarding, ‘to suit the needs of today’s busy families’, as does Hatherop Castle, though the latter has a handful who full board too.

Cothill House is gently selective, ‘but do not mistake this breadth for a lack of academic excellence’; offering the range of boarding options (flexi as well as day pupils arrived in 2024). Even bigger changes afoot when girls are admitted in 2025. Traditionally Cothill preps pupils for 13+ entrance to the major boarding schools. Radley, Eton, Winchester historically the most popular. Moulsford Prep SchoolSt Andrew’s BerkshireSt Hugh’s SchoolPinewood School and Ashfold School all offer some boarding, too, although each is slightly different. Moulsford offers flexi and weekly boarding to boys in year 5 and above; Pinewood offers the same, albeit to boys and girls; new dorms are in development at St Andrew’s, where pupils can board midweek Monday to Thursday or opt for one-offs; St Hugh’s offers flexi or weekly boarding (not ad hoc) from year 3; at Ashfold, children can do flexi boarding from year 4.

In Oxford, the majority of boys at Summer Fields board, with boys coming from London and overseas. Locals use ‘day boarding’ (regular nights) or ad hoc flexi-boarding at The Dragon to avoid the traffic; weekly or full boarders come from further afield. Saturday school at Summer Fields and The Dragon make them good choices for full boarders. Christ Church Cathedral School offers flexi-boarding to day boys; all choristers full board.

At senior level, most offer full and weekly boarding. Burford School is unusual in being a state boarding school: prospective boarders interviewed to assess suitability; priority to forces families. Apply early because places are in hot demand. Boarding kicks in at both Sibford School and Tudor Hall from year 7, though at the latter girls are full boarders with no weekly option. In nearby BucksStowe School picks up lots at 13+ from Winchester House, Beachborough, The Dragon and Kitebrook. Kingham Hill attracts international boarders (due in part to offering the US curriculum) from 11+.

The Oratory SchoolPangbourne College and Shiplake College all offer the range of boarding options in co-ed environments, as does Abingdon School for boys (but not Helkats) – check with the schools directly as offerings can vary depending on numbers and demand. Sitting in hundreds of acres of Capability Brown landscaping, Radley College is the belle (or beau, rather) of the ball, one of only three remaining boys’ full boarding schools in the country (alongside Eton and Harrow, not that you needed telling). Our reviewer found it ‘unassuming, with a touch of old-school scruffiness’; Paradise for country mice but increasingly diverse, too. Full boarding only – school’s 19th-century founders modelled school life on monasticism, and it shows (in a nice way). 

Of the city senior schools, Headington Rye Oxford (the new name for Headington School) and Wychwood School are the only ones that offer boarding to girls from 11+. St Edward’s is increasingly hard to get into – families from London and the home counties are keen as mustard for the new regime and improved academics. The majority at St Clare’s board, from year 12; mainly from overseas. d’Overbroeck’s offers unstuffy boarding for sixth formers, now with more beds for year 13s (who have hitherto lived with host families).

Bruern Abbey and Swalcliffe Park take boys as boarders, offering safe, stimulating, loving environments for those with additional needs. The aforementioned Kingham Hill and Bloxham School offer a mainstream boarding setting with a limited number of places for students experiencing specific learning difficulties.

Boarding schools near Oxford and Oxfordshire

Families look towards the Midlands and across the south and south-west for further boarding schools. Girls may go to Cheltenham Ladies CollegeDowne House, St Mary’s Ascot or Wycombe Abbey; their brothers to Eton CollegeWinchester College or Harrow SchoolWellington CollegeMarlborough College and Bradfield College are the co-eds that Oxfordshire families will travel for, offering bells and whistles and a hot social scene. Those avoiding the London sphere of influence may look to Cheltenham CollegeRugby School or Oundle School.

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