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What says..

School has a long-held reputation for the quality of its art, design and technology, and as you enter through its light and lofty Mall, walls are adorned with quite breathtaking artwork. The school motto is 'Age quod agis' (Whatever you do, do well) and while grades are strong, emphasis is on cultivating confident, well-balanced members of society rather than Nobel Prize winners. Touring the classrooms, we saw obvious efforts made to inject imagination and fun into learning. One year 8 Latin class in the middle of learning about Pompeii had just scattered outside to start building volcanoes...

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What the school says...

Our Lady's Abingdon (OLA) Senior School provides an inspiring, vibrant and well-ordered environment for boys and girls aged 11 to 18, welcoming children of all faiths and none.

We offer a distinctive and successful combination of four key factors which together create our unique OLA environment that helps our pupils achieve more:

1. Small, Friendly School
Because we are a small school, with an intake of no more than 60 pupils into Year 7 each year, students have more chance to thrive. Each is known as an individual and OLA's caring, family atmosphere enables children to flourish, both academically and beyond the classroom.

Pupils have greater opportunities to represent the school in a wider range of activities than is possible in schools with larger pupil numbers. These include sport, the performing arts, music and inter-school academic challenges, as well as nationally recognised activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme and Young Enterprise.

All of these play a valuable role in building pupil self-confidence as they move through the school.

2. Small Classes
Throughout the Senior School our class sizes are small with an excellent teacher to pupil ratio. For example, in Years 7 and 8 form sizes are typically 20 pupils or fewer and in many subjects groups are even smaller than this.

We pride ourselves on the individual relationship we have with each pupil, which enables teachers to really get to know each child and help them develop and exceed their potential.

GCSE Preparation
Years 7, 8 and 9 constitute Key Stage 3, where the preparatory work for GCSE is done. In Key Stage 4, consisting of Years 10 and 11, pupils study for their GCSE courses and normally study ten or eleven subjects.

3. Highly Praised Pastoral Care
A major strength of OLA is our pastoral system, which is highly praised by OLA parents and was described as ‘outstanding' in our most recent full ISI Inspection Report.

A Year Tutor (Head of Year) system operates, whereby the Year Tutor follows the academic progress and pastoral care of a pupil from Year 8 through to Year 11, following an initial year spent with an Induction Tutor. Each child also has a Form Teacher.

Both Year Tutor and Form Teacher quickly get to know the children in their care and their families extremely well. Our success in pastoral care is due to the emphasis we place on the partnership between home and school.

4. Personal Values
OLA's caring and nurturing Catholic Christian ethos means that we put a great deal of care into developing the character of every student as they move through the school. Our education is holistic, meaning that, as well as ensuring that children flourish academically, we also foster in them the values they will need for life beyond the classroom.

Pupils leave OLA as happy, emotionally intelligent and confident individuals, ready to take their place in the outside world. The ‘value added' that we give has been a feature of OLA throughout its long history, reflecting the values of the school’s founders that continue to be at the centre of our approach up to the present day.
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Other features

All-through school (for example 3-18 years). - An all-through school covers junior and senior education. It may start at 3 or 4, or later, and continue through to 16 or 18. Some all-through schools set exams at 11 or 13 that pupils must pass to move on.

What The Good Schools Guide says

Principal

Since 2012, Stephen Oliver BA MLitt PGCE (50s), previously deputy head of St Benedict's, Ealing. Educated at the universities of Birmingham (Latin with Greek), Cambridge (PGCE) and St Andrews (ancient history) and has taught at Stonyhurst, the Royal Grammar School, Guildford, Uppingham and Haberdashers’ Aske’s School.

Was a novice monk at Downside Abbey for a year and a half in his 30s in between teaching posts. Enjoys cricket, jazz and writing - has published Smoke in the Sanctuary, a comic novel set in a Catholic parish in the west of England, and is currently writing his second novel. Frequent, erudite blogs on the school website clearly demonstrate his literary leanings.

This is his first headship, and he says that he was drawn to OLA’s ‘calm atmosphere’ and...

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Independent schools frequently offer IGCSEs or other qualifications alongside or as an alternative to GCSE. The DfE does not record performance data for these exams so independent school GCSE data is frequently misleading; parents should check the results with the schools.

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