A small senior school in Oxford where your child may benefit from excellent pastoral care, plenty of individual attention and access to a very broad curriculum. After 125 years of being an all-girls’ school, it’s opening admissions to boys too.
The big news for this school is that it will become co-ed from September 2023. After 125 years of being an all-girls’ school, Wychwood joins a growing list of private schools in the UK that are either considering going co-ed or have already done so.
Making the announcement, the school said:
“Wychwood will proudly remain true to its pioneering core and it will continue to help develop individuals to be the best they can be through a holistic education that will prepare them for the global world beyond Wychwood. The warmth, care and positive, meaningful engagement at the heart of Wychwood’s ethos will remain as well as developing a pupil’s self-respect and mutual respect for all their peers.”
The school is yet to launch full details of its co-ed programme, with a new website coming soon, but we would expect the next chapter for this school to build on its very strong foundations as a nurturing, non-selective school where the focus is on the individual.
The cohort of just 120 students in Years 7-13 lends itself to a strong sense of community, where every girl is not simply known by name, but is ‘known’ for her strengths, weaknesses, ambitions and needs. It’s a friendly school where girls gather in the hall for tea and toast after a school activity or prep, and where sixth formers are ‘treated’ to a Friday lie-in until 9.30am. It creates a very warm and supportive learning environment for girls in those all-important pre-teen and teenage years.
Wychwood puts as much emphasis on ensuring its girls are happy as they are achieving academically. The school describes academic life as the backbone of its school day, and it is committed to helping every girls achieve their very best in both GCSEs and A Levels. But this is not without creating a “unique and warm” setting with a genuine familial feel.
As well as girls having the support of their form teacher, progress tutor, housemistress, subject teacher, and school counsellor, the vertical and horizontal mixing within school encourages both friendships and girls taking on the responsibility of caring for their peers.
The school believes that children should be exposed to a wide range of subjects – and this is reflected in the broad curriculum with as much emphasis on the arts as there is on maths and English.
In Years 7-9, students study the core subjects (mathematics, English and science) as well as history, geography, art and design, music, PE, modern foreign languages, computing, religious education, drama and PHSEE. The sciences are studied as separate sciences giving students the choice of taking trilogy science (two GCSEs) or separate biology, chemistry and physics examinations at GCSE.
GCSE options include art, drama, computer science, music, photography, PE, psychology and textiles. Other subjects are added as A Level; options include sociology, history of art, film studies and economics.
The size of the school is also one of its strengths (there’s only one class per year group), enabling it to put an emphasis on the personal development of each and every girl. Class sizes are small and although they can reach 20, they can be as low as groups of 10 in Years 7 to 9 (ages 11-14), five for GCSEs, and 10 for A Levels; there’s even individual tuition in some subjects so a great school for helping to being the best results from a child without hothousing them.
In the Sixth Form is an excellent springboard for independent living and university life. Outside of lessons, girls have the freedom to go into Oxford, play a key role in the student council, they get a later start every Friday, and there’s a no uniform, smart dress code.
Due to its size, Wychwood can’t be expected to field large teams in a large number of sports – but what it can do is give all girls the opportunity to take part and play for their school (which is not always the case in a much larger school). The main sports are hockey, netball and rounders, which can all be played on the school campus, and there’s a much wide choice of sports that girls can sign up for as an extra-curricular – dance, hockey, trampolining, basketball, tennis, badminton, football and fitness.
Wychwood has a love for music. The school is particularly proud of its choir, but there is also a pop band, wind band, boarders ‘after supper singing group’ and GCSE ensemble singing club. Over half the girls play an instrument, too. There are many opportunities to study and showcase talent in the arts, whether taking GSCEs and A Levels in textiles, photography, fine art, and history of art or performing dance, trampolining and gymnastics in the annual Performing Arts evening.
Wychwood sees extra-curricular activities as an important part of an holistic education. It offers a broad programme of (mostly) free activities and clubs, many nationally recognised activities such as Young Enterprise, Model United Nations and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, and a creative list of clubs as varied as Astronomy, Equal Rights and Harry Potter.
2022 A Level results: 70% of grades were A*-B and 15% were at A*, and there was a 100% pass rate.
2022 GCSE results: 14% of grades were Grade 9 compared to 11% in 2019; 42% were Grades 8 and 9 compared to 35% in 2019; 65% were Grades 7-9 as compared to 56% in 2019.
The school offers full, weekly and flexi boarding with The House for senior students and 2&4 (named after its postal address) for junior girls. Around 30% of students are boarders, and 20% of these are international students.
Boarders and day girls share the common rooms and facilities (day girls can even use the art rooms and other facilities at weekends if they choose), and day girls can stay for Prep during the week (and sometimes on Saturdays) all in an effort to create friendships. There are Golden Ticket evenings where boarders can invite a day girl for a sleepover; ‘older sisters’ are always there to offer a listening ear to the younger boarders; and the girls also change rooms every term to encourage new friendships. It all feels very nurturing and homely.
Located next to the Dragon School, Oxford, Wychwood’s facilities may feel limited compared to other independent schools in the area, but they still support the broad education that’s on offer. Sports facilities include a tennis court, basketball court, badminton court, hall with gymnastics and trampolining facilities and a fitness suite, and students head off-site to use a local swimming pool, tennis courts, netball courts, athletics track, and sports pitches
There are scholarships at 11+, 13+ and 16+ entry level for creative arts, drama, music, sports and all-rounder scholarships. Bursaries are also available.
Annual fees are £19,635 for day students and £33,705 for full boarders.
Good for: This is a fantastic school for students who need that extra level of individual attention. It’s a small school where your child is offered the support they may need to grow their confidence and where their talents, whether academic, sporty or artistic, will be nurtured. Parents who want their son to experience a Wychwood education too will welcome news of its move to co-ed education later this year.
Not for: The one-form entry and small, inclusive environment of this school may just be too small for students needing to be a small fish in a much bigger pond. For really sporty students, there may not be enough opportunity to train and compete. Also, if looking for a county school with a wow factor campus and facilities like a swimming pool and riding school then this school’s more limited facilities will fall short.
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