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There’s the option of flexi-boarding (pay per night). One local parent said her son doesn’t want to come home for fear of ‘missing out on the fun’. This flexibility was a big draw for a number of the parents to whom we spoke. While there’s been some rebalancing of a historic bias towards sport, the school still takes great pride in its achievements. Rugby and hockey are particular strengths (girls reigning county hockey champions at time of visit). Regular rivals include…

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What the school says...

Bloxham School is an independent, co-educational boarding and day school for students aged 11-18. Situated in the beautiful Oxfordshire village of Bloxham, the school is only three miles away from the M40 London to Birmingham motorway. Our students enjoy superb facilities for academic work, sport, technology and the arts on a modern, single-site campus.

With around 400 students, Bloxham is small enough to ensure that each student receives individual attention, yet large enough to offer every opportunity a school twice its size could deliver. Our flexible approach to boarding responds to the demands of modern family living with all our students, Boarders and Day Boarders alike, being allocated to one of Bloxham's six senior Houses. The Houses are tight-knit communities of their own, providing a friendly environment where students feel welcome and secure. They celebrate the diversity of our community and are instrumental in developing confident and caring young people who have the knowledge and qualifications to go on to succeed in their chosen path.

Don't forget to take a look at our website for further information on what a Bloxham education can offer you and your family.
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What the parents say...

My son was fortunate enough to get into this school. It was the ideal environment for him. He got support for his weaker subjects and excellent teaching for his strengths. The school has a good ethos with high standards of behaviour and pastoral care. There were excellent opportunities for music and sport and altogether I am surprised that this school is not more widely known. My son was really happy there and as a result of going to Bloxham he won a scholarship (in 2008) to a leading university. I will always be grateful to Bloxham for what it did for my son and I recommend the school.

Commented on 18th Dec 2012

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Sports

Equestrian centre or equestrian team - school has own equestrian centre or an equestrian team.

Shooting

Sailing

What The Good Schools Guide says

Headmaster

Since September 2013, Mr Paul Sanderson (40s) previously a deputy head and director of curriculum at Gordonstoun. Originally from Northern Ireland, he was educated at Banbridge Academy before studying evolutionary biology and genetics at St Andrews University. Postgrad qualifications from Oxford (PGCE) and Cambridge (MPhil). Taught at Lancaster Royal Grammar, Oundle and Carr Hill High before joining Gordonstoun as housemaster.

Drawn to the school’s modest size (around 430 pupils), where children are ‘less likely to disappear’, he described his first year as a ‘rollercoaster’, and has made great strides in raising the academic profile of the school. Ambitious and determined, with a refreshing heart-on-his-sleeve honesty (a few watery-eyed moments when recounting the achievements of his pupils), Mr Sanderson’s mission is to redefine what makes a Bloxham education.

A rugby enthusiast, with a passion for ice climbing and skiing. Runs a climbing wall class and recently took a group of students alpine climbing. Married with three young children.

Academic matters

In 2016, 65 per cent A*-B at A level (35 per cent A*/A); small numbers taking most subjects but business studies and maths top the popularity polls. Forty-six per cent A*/A at GCSE in 2016. No plans to introduce the IB. IGCSEs currently offered in English, geography and sciences.

Management restructure has introduced new deputy and five new heads of department and there’s a definite sense that the bar has been raised when it comes to teaching standards. Staff:pupil ratio average is 8:1 and progress is measured across the year through a challenge grade system. Length of lessons has recently been increased from 35 minutes to an hour and music and drama have been shifted to the afternoon in response to latest research that children become more creative as the day goes on.

While Bloxham is quick to point out that it is not a special needs school, it does have a good reputation for nurturing able pupils with mild to moderate dyslexia who have become demoralised in more competitive arenas. A specialist dyslexia course is offered for up to six pupils a year in the third, fourth and fifth forms, focused on improving their reading speed and accuracy, spelling and study skills.

The Eunoia Society (ancient Greek for ‘beautiful learning’) provides an intellectual ‘stretching’ beyond the academic curriculum. As well as offering prep for Oxbridge entrance, it boasts an impressive programme of events, with trips to exhibitions, opera and ballet, and recent visiting speakers have included an art historian, a US diplomat, a professor of biophysics and a senior civil servant.

Games, options, the arts

While there’s been some rebalancing of a historic bias towards sport, the school still takes great pride in its achievements. Rugby and hockey are particular strengths (girls reigning county hockey champions at time of visit). Regular rivals include Stowe, Warwick, Marlborough and Wellington and competition is taken seriously. Coaches use iPads to record games for post-match analysis.

Facilities are excellent. In addition to two all-weather pitches, the school boasts extensive playing fields, two squash courts, two fives courts, six outdoor netball courts (doubling up as tennis courts during the summer) and a 23m indoor swimming pool. The Dewey Sports Hall has a well-equipped fitness suite with yoga and an assortment of classes also on offer. Sailing takes place on a nearby reservoir. Recent national successes in both clay pigeon shooting and equestrian competitions (twice national schools eventing champions). No stabling at school but pupils may arrange to bring their own mounts for twice-weekly tuition. Those who don’t own their own horses can arrange to hire from local stables.

Bloxham is fast gaining a reputation for its drama programme. Since his appointment in 2013, the director of drama has increased the number of productions from one to eight a year and all pupils are expected to take part, either front of stage or behind the scenes. The school recently staged its first original production (about Bloxham boys who fought and perished in the Great War), selling out all four performances to rave reviews: ‘as good as the West End’, commented one enthusiastic parent. The Great Hall stages the major productions, with the rest at the Wesley Theatre (a former Wesleyan Chapel).

The music department is housed in the Sam Kahn Music School and there’s a new orchestra – quite an achievement given the size of the school’s population. Fifty per cent split across music and music tech subjects. We dropped in on a lesson about film scores and learned of an impending visit from an old boy who now works as a film composer in Hollywood - such ‘value-added’ is much in evidence. Lots of rehearsal rooms support a busy performance schedule and there’s the added bonus of a school radio station, run by pupils. Art provision is equally impressive. Sixth form students benefit from dedicated personal workspaces in a charming room that resembles an artists’ garret, complete with sloping eaves.

‘We want kids who are hungry and ambitious inside and outside the classroom’, says Mr Sanderson and Bloxham’s enrichment programme is extensive. As well as the Eunoia Soc (see above), pupils can choose from clubs ranging from astronomy to knitting as well as a wine society for sixth formers. Animal club is offered once a week for pupils keen to help look after the school’s resident lizards, snakes, hermit crabs and beetles.

Boarders

First and foremost a boarding school; day pupils (known as day boarders) make up half the population and can stay until 10pm, and the school is opening a new day house in September 2017. There’s also the option of flexi-boarding (pay per night). One local parent said her son doesn’t want to come home for fear of ‘missing out on the fun’. This flexibility was a big draw for a number of the parents to whom we spoke.

Seven boarding houses are clean and bright with large communal areas - a bit dated in places but a rolling programme of refurbishment is under way. Weekly and flexi boarding in years 7 and 8, with own lower school boarding house. Full boarding from year 9. Thirteen per cent of boarders from overseas. Maximum of three beds to a room, full boarders have their own room from year 10. Opening a new day house in 2017

Background and atmosphere

With its picture-book cluster of buildings in honey-coloured Horton stone, manicured lawns and homely atmosphere the school blends harmoniously with beautiful Bloxham village. The lower school (Exham House) is actually situated in the former village pub.

Originally known as All Saints School, Bloxham was founded in 1860 by The Reverend Philip Reginald Egerton who wanted to establish a school that embodied the high church values of the Oxford Movement. In 1897 it joined the Woodard Foundation, the group of schools founded by Canon Woodard to promote education in an actively Christian environment.

Food excellent (we took full advantage of visiting on Curry Thursday). Great choice and emphasis on healthy eating. Sociable lunchtimes with teachers sitting happily alongside pupils.

Pastoral care, well-being and discipline

Self-proclaimed ‘gold standard’ of pastoral care is justified. Multiple systems in place to ensure children’s emotional welfare, including a team of ‘peer listeners’ – sixth form student volunteers with formal counselling training. Small size of school promotes healthy mixing and solid friendships between girls/boys and different year groups. Head meets daily with head boy and girl, helping to keep abreast of any grumbles or issues. School refreshingly honest about (infrequent) incidents of bullying; intervention swift and effective, according to parents. Keen sensitivity about emotional needs of pupils: ‘let’s face it, the teenage years are difficult’, says head.

Holy communion for all once a week. School doesn’t shy away from talking about the importance of spiritual development in education but head recognises need for religion to ‘translate into the 21st century’. It’s less about doctrine and more about getting children to think about their place in the world, ‘To be a giver, rather than a taker’.

This ethos is reflected in service initiatives such as Reading Club, where older pupils help children from local primary schools with reading difficulties. According to head this has inspired at least one student to go on and train as a primary teacher.

Pupils and parents

Bloxham has long been a popular local option and is now increasingly so for London refugees looking for a smaller, more ‘gentle’ boarding school. Recent push to improve parent-school communications has been warmly welcomed. Very informative parents’ handbook published annually; newly established parents' association. Saturday matches are well attended and there are plenty of opportunities for parents to get involved if desired. Former pupils include impressive numbers of high ranks from all three forces plus novelist Tom Sharpe and journalist John Sergeant.

Entrance

Candidates for lower school (age 11) via school’s own exam (maths, English and verbal reasoning) and interview; CE for 13+ entry. Sixth form requires minimum six GCSEs at grades A*-C, with at least a B in chosen A level subjects (A grade required for maths and physics). Lower school intake is from state primaries or independents such as Carrdus; at 13+ pupils from preps including Ashfold School, Beachborough, Bilton Grange, Swanbourne House and Winchester House.

Exit

Small leakage (around 10 per cent) after GCSEs. Post-A level, varied subjects and destinations; Bristol, Nottingham and Loughborough currently popular. Two medics in 2016.

Money matters

Parents say flexi-boarding option and late stay for day pupils represent value for money. Scholarships (20 per cent fee reduction) for academics, sport, DT music and drama. Means-tested bursaries can be combined with scholarships; limited number of full-fee bursaries.

Our view

Successfully combines academic challenge with plenty of sport, service and practical life skills. A perfect environment for happy all-rounders.

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Special Education Needs

Bloxham School runs a special three-year course for up to six dyslexic pupils each year from Year 9 to the GCSE year. This course, which replaces modern foreign languages on the timetable, was opened in 1985. For entry, pupils should have a WISC or BAS combined score of 120 or more. After-school tuition is also available for dyslexic pupils in Years 7 and 8, and for dyslexic pupils in Years 9 to 11 who are not on the course. Because the course has for so many years drawn high-achieving pupils to the school, dyslexia has a high standing in the school community.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Aspergers
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia Y
Dyscalculia
Dysgraphia
Dyslexia
Dyspraxia
English as an additional language (EAL) Y
Genetic
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class Y
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
Not Applicable
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
PD - Physical Disability
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
VI - Visual Impairment

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