d’Overbroeck's Review

Not your most traditional senior school and sixth form, d’Overbroeck's offers a progressive education with students on first name terms with teachers, no uniform and small class sizes.
At a glance
School type
Private
School phase
Secondary
Inspection rating
Excellent
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 21,500
Annual fees
GBP 19,950–26,190
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Principal
Mr Jonathan Cuff
Owner
Nord Anglia
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d’Overbroeck's
School type
Private
School phase
Secondary
Inspection rating
Excellent
Curricula taught
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 21,500
Annual fees
GBP 19,950–26,190
Price band help
Premium
Status
Open
Principal
Mr Jonathan Cuff
Owner
Nord Anglia
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Not your most traditional senior school and sixth form, d’Overbroeck's offers a progressive education with students on first name terms with teachers, no uniform and small class sizes.

d’Overbroeck's is an independent day and boarding school in Oxford for 11-18-year-olds offering an alternative to traditional UK education. Its informal culture, modern thinking, and equal relationship between students and teachers play a key role in its success; its outstanding GCSE and A Level results place the school at the top of league tables in the country, alongside many larger more traditional schools.

Founded in 1977, d’Overbroeck's started as a Sixth Form, and today the school teaches a global community of students aged 11-18 across three school sites: Years 7-11, The International School and a dedicated Sixth Form teaching centre. The name d’Overbroeck comes from part of the founder Malcolm van Biervliet’s family name, which has Flemish origins.

This is definitely not a traditional, stuffy school, and its suited for students (and families) who share a more liberal way of thinking. The school breaks with tradition (you won’t find head boy and girl positions for example) and formal hierarchies to create a more relaxed learning environment that breaks down the ‘us and them’ relationship between teacher and student. Teachers and students are on first-name terms, the uniform is casual, and class sizes are kept small to ensure students get individual care and attention. There’s also a promise of plenty of “fun and laughter”. 

There are around 690 students across the three sites, and the Sixth Form is the largest part of the school; with around 380 students; it’s a mix of UK and international students, with around 50% coming from over 40 different countries. Many Year 11s progress to Sixth Form, and the remaining 130-plus students come from other state and private schools each year. 

The senior school is day only. The International School offers boarding to students in Years 7-11, and there are full and weekly boarding options in the Sixth Form (around 50% take this offer up), which makes it an excellent stepping-stone between school and university.

d’Overbroeck’s is a school of three parts, each with its own identity, but it does come together for house events, whole school drama productions, and weekend boarding activities though. 

Don’t come here looking for acres of sports pitches and shiny pavilions. This is a city centre school that takes advantage of being located in one of the UK’s leading city centres for learning, and uses local academic, arts and sporting venues for learning, performing and playing.

The school is owned by the world's largest listed education group, Nord Anglia. As part of its DNA, Nord Anglia encourages children to see themselves as global citizens from an early age. As a member of Nord Anglia’s global network of 77 schools, d’Overbroeck’s is part of the group’s Global Campus. This virtual world links Nord Anglia’s over 50,000 students and gives them access to online courses, global challenges, and experiences that are run across the family of schools. Most recently, students attended a Multisport Festival hosted by the Nord Anglia’s British International School in Budapest

Curriculum

The curriculum here is described as “progressive and far-reaching”. Teaching is kept fresh and up to date; there are teacher-led working parties to discuss new initiatives and pedagogy. There’s also freedom and flexibility here, with both students and teachers being given “the space to be themselves”, which  helps to create a learning environment that where students are not afraid to ask questions and to be themselves.

Teaching covers the core subjects alongside art, geography, history, computing, music, drama, religious studies, French and Latin, and Spanish from Year 8. There’s a choice of around 11 options at GCSE including art, drama, French, geography, history, computing, Latin, music, religious studies, PE and Spanish.

It’s not all about the ‘traditional’ subjects here, something that is reflected in the long and diverse list of leavers’ destinations. The school offers a broad range of arts subjects at A Level including art, drama, media studies, photography, music and music technology, film studies, and textiles.

There are over 35 A Level subjects, without the restrictions of option blocks, so the message here is that any combination of subjects is possible students. Students are also encouraged to complete the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), as well as attend weekly Lower Sixth Personal Development sessions discussing topics such as gender, mental health and US politics. Students seem to embrace the school’s well-rounded sixth form curriculum, with one describing it as giving her, “a thoughtful break from my general A Level revision and a broader outlook on other aspects in life”.

There’s also a bespoke Think programme to help prepare students wanting to study at Oxbridge or medicine and law.

The International School for overseas students aged 11-16 has been designed to help students take their first steps into the British education system by studying a range of five academic programmes. It offers five programmes, including options to study IGCSEs over one or two years, a one-to-three-year programme for Years 7-9. There are flexible start dates for some programmes, 

Sport and the arts

Sport is about “choice, engagement and enjoyment”, and far less about being selected for the first team. With its lack of facilities on campus (and the small number of students) we wouldn’t expect the school to be a big player on the school competitive sports circuit. It does, however, field teams in several sports, including football, netball, hockey, rugby union, cross-country running, cricket, swimming, softball and athletics. 

Sporting clubs include trampolining, archery, fitness (spinning/circuits/boxercise), judo, sculling, swimming, lifesaving and squash, so there are plenty of opportunities to stay active.

The school may not be for the sportiest of students, unless you are a talented tennis player that is. Sixth Formers can join the school’s Tennis Academy, which offers students individual coaching from experts at the North Oxford Lawn Tennis Club.

d’Overbroeck's is well-equipped for the arts, which are increasingly popular as GCSE and A Level subjects here. As well as music studios, a music technology room and drama studios across the three sites, the school boasts a brand-new arts centre within 10 minutes' walk of the main school.

There’s also a fairly huge list of clubs, societies and co-curricular activities from film club and graphic novel design to sewing and trampolining. It changes frequently to meet the changing interests of students moving up through the school, so there’s a fair chance you’ll find something you like – if not, ask for it.

Academic results

2021 GCSE results: 69% of all grades were 9-7, 43% were 9-8, and 235 were graded the top mark of 9.
2021 A Level results: 34% were graded A*, 67% were A*-A, and 68% were A*-B.

Since 2018, the school has been ranked as one of the top schools in Oxfordshire and in the top 1% in England for progress at A Level, which is an incredible achievement for a non-selective school – and a very positive indication of the progress that students are making here from the day they arrive.

Leavers’ destinations include Oxford, Cambridge and Russell Group universities, and the top university destinations in 2021 were University College London, King’s College London, University of Edinburgh, and University of Manchester. Students also go onto leading music, art and drama schools including RADA and the University of the Arts London.

Campus and facilities

Sixth Formers moved into a new building in 2017, a renovated 19th century masonic lodge in Summertown, which is 10 minutes by bus from the city centre. Students study in modern well-equipped classrooms, science laboratories, drama studio, 180-seater auditorium, music rooms and rehearsal spaces, as well as a dedicated library and common room.

The recently opened d'Overbroeck's Arts Centre is impressive – there are dedicated studios for textiles, photography, fine art, ceramics and 3D art, as well as exhibition spaces. 

The International School, which occupies the former sixth form centre, has classrooms, science labs, art and music rooms, library and common room.

While the school may not have all the facilities of a much larger school on campus, it has plenty of facilities on its doorstep (including Oxford University grounds) – you just need to walk to them!

Admission and fees

Students join in Year 7 (or in Year 9 for those joining from Prep schools).

The school offers scholarships, with up to 30% of fees, for academic, art and the performing arts.

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