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Best secondary schools in Oxford

Best secondary schools near Abingdon

Best secondary schools in Banbury and Bicester

Best secondary schools near Henley and Wallingford

Best secondary schools near Stadhampton

Best secondary schools in west Oxfordshire

Special Educational Needs

Pupil at Burford School reading a book on a bench in a walled gardenOxfordshire’s state secondary schools are all comprehensive, so be aware of where the borders with Berkshire or Buckinghamshire fall if you’re interested in grammars. At the Oxfordshire comprehensives, you’ll be at the front of the line if you have a sibling, live in catchment or attend a partner primary school. 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. In the Botley area, Matthew Arnold School is well thought of, and you may be able to pick up Bartholomew, too (see above).

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Secondary schools near Abingdon

Didcot Girls’ School (Oxfordshire’s only comprehensive all-girls’ school) shares a co-ed sixth form with St Birinus School. We hear wonderful things about inspiring teaching for all abilities; school offers everything from Dungeons and Dragons to ukulele ensemble. There’s a chance of picking up The Downs, in Compton, though usually you’ll need to be in catchment, over the border.

Best state primary schools near Abingdon

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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. If you’re serious about pursuing grammars you may be better off towards Thame, or, even better, our Buckinghamshire itself.

Best state primary schools in Banbury and Bicester

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Secondary schools near Henley and Wallingford

Siting in 33 acres on the edge of Henley, Gillotts School is well thought of – with 200 pupils in a year group, you should get in from within a couple of miles even if you’re not in catchment. Langtree School, in the delightful village of Woodcote, only takes 120 pupils a year, so you’ll need to be either in catchment or a sibling. Both get amongst the best Progress 8 scores in the county and feed to Henley College for sixth form. Wallingford School is bigger, with its own sixth form and super expressive arts.

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Secondary schools near Stadhampton

Actually in Thame, our reviewer found ‘strong academics’, a thriving performing arts scene and super pastoral care at Lord Williams’s School. Huge majority attend a feeder primary or live in the school’s designated area.  

Bear in mind that moving over the border would take you into Buckinghamshire grammar catchments; our guide to Buckinghamshire will tell you more about how it works. Aylesbury High School (girls) and Aylesbury Grammar School (boys) are neighbours; at AGS, our reviewer found ‘a grammar school in its purest form: purposeful, determined and socially diverse’.

Best state primary schools near Stadhampton

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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

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

Most children with special needs in Oxfordshire attend a mainstream primary, secondary or academy school. Some mainstream schools have specialist resource bases for particular areas of need. For example, children of secondary age with an EHCP and a diagnosis of communication and interaction needs are supported at Lord Williams's School, Thame, and Fitzharry’s School, Abingdon.

Others offering integrated classes for children with specific needs include The Cherwell School (autism resource provision and hearing impairment resource base) and The Marlborough School, Woodstock, which supports students with physical needs and autism in the purpose-built Ormerod hub, with regular physio, OT and speech and language input. The Warriner School, Bloxham, has its own hub for students (11-16) with communication and interaction difficulties in a therapeutic environment.  

Special schools throughout the county tend to be through-schools to the age of 18, eg Mabel Prichard School (Blackbird Leys) and The Iffley Academy (Oxford). John Watson School (Wheatley) and Frank Wise School (Banbury) support severe, complex or profound learning difficulties. Kingfisher School in Abingdon and Fitzwaryn School in Wantage are both special schools for children from nursery to 19 who have a range of complex learning needs, including autism.

Mainstream or special school, find out about your education options from Oxfordshire County Council’s SEND local offer.

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