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Boarders at St Hugh's School, OxfordshireCothill House is gently selective, ‘but do not mistake this breadth for a lack of academic excellence’; offering full or weekly boarding to boys from year 4, it prepares them for 13+ entrance to the major boarding schools. Radley, Eton, Winchester historically the most popular. Our reviewer found old-fashioned boarding at its best: ‘The range of sport on offer is immense.’  Moulsford Prep School, St Andrew’s Berkshire, St Hugh’s School, Pinewood School and Ashfold School all offer some boarding, too. Pay attention, because every offering 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.  

Many of the private secondary school options offer a boarding element, too. The Oratory School, Pangbourne College and Shiplake College all offer co-ed boarding environments, as does Abingdon School for boys (but not Helkats). These tend to be a combination of flexi, weekly and full boarding – 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’; a ‘sweet shop’ of extracurricular delights on offer and with ‘fizzy’ and ‘exciting’ teaching ensuring tip-top university destinations. 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). 

Do read our Area Guide to Oxford and north Oxfordshire for the lowdown on the boarding options available there, many of which may interest you. Summer Fields and The Dragon are probably the two that you’ll consider at prep level, and from 13+ St Edward’s, Oxford is co-ed and academically on the up. 

Boarding schools near South Oxfordshire 

Further afield, families who live in South Oxfordshire will have their eyes on Eton College, Winchester College or Harrow School for boys (Cothill and Moulsford send loads); Downe House, Wycombe Abbey or St Mary’s Ascot are deemed good for the girls. Co-ed is increasingly attractive, though – you can see that from all those local schools making the leap – and Wellington College, Stowe School, Marlborough College and Bradfield College are all popular.

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