St Edward's School, Oxford

St. Edward's School, Oxford
Motto Pietas Parentum
(Latin: "Parental Devotion")
Established 1863
Type Independent day and boarding school
Public school
Religion Church of England
Warden Stephen Jones
Chairman of Governors Mike Stanfield
Founder Rev. Thomas Chamberlain
Location Woodstock Road
DfE URN 123292 Tables
Staff c.100
Students 680
Boys:422, Girls:258
Gender Coeducational
Ages 13–18
Houses 11
Colours Yellow and Blue          
Publication St Edward's Chronicle
Old Pupils Network OSE Society
Telephone 01865 319 204
Boat Club

1st VIII

Other SESBC Crews

St. Edward's School (known colloquially as "Teddies") is a co-educational, independent boarding school (referred to as a public school) on Woodstock Road in the north of Oxford, England. It is one of the most famous schools in the country. It is also regarded as one of the greatest of England's Victorian public schools, and is one of the leading co-ed boarding schools in the UK.

Approximately sixty students live in each of its twelve boarding houses. The school is a member of the Rugby Group, the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, and the Oxfordshire Independent and State School Partnership. Current termly fees are: boarding, £11,890; day, £9,515.[1]

The school teaches the GCSE and A-Level syllabuses. In 2008, the school began following the trend set by other private schools to teach the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.


Apsley House, Quad side of the school

The school was founded in 1863 by the Rev. Thomas Chamberlain, student of Christ Church, Vicar of St Thomas the Martyr. The original school building was Mackworth Hall, which then stood on New Inn Hall Street in central Oxford.

In 1873, after a storm damaged the school buildings and in anticipation of growing numbers, the Rev. A. B. Simeon, first Warden, moved the school to Summertown. At the time, the site was on the boundary of Oxford and surrounded by farmland, and Rev. Simeon bought a large plot for the school. The school remains on the 100-acre (0.40 km2) site today, with the Quadrangle and playing fields on opposite sides of Woodstock Road.

Rev. Simeon created a private school with monastic-style buildings around a quadrangle.[2] St. Edward's is the second largest quadrangle in Oxford, second only to Tom Quad at Christ Church. The original buildings were designed by William Wilkinson. The north range was built in 1873 and 1886, the gatehouse in 1879, and the east range including Big School and the library in 1881. Wilkinson's most significant building at St.Edward's is the chapel, built in 1876.[3]

In the First World War more St. Edward's pupils, pro rata, went to serve their country than from any other independent school in the UK. In Chapel the names of those former pupils who had lost their lives on the front line were announced. The walls of the chapel are lined with plaques remembering those former pupils who died in the Boer War, First World War, Second World War and subsequent wars.

The school flourished under the guidance of Warden Kendall from 1925 to 1954. In the 1930s, a subway was built underneath the Woodstock Road following the death of a pupil who was run over by a car. The subway was the first to be built in Oxford and is still used today. Its walls are painted in the school colours.

In the Second World War air raid shelters were dug into the grass of the Quad. The School was presented with a stained glass window by the RAF at the end of the War in recognition of "the superb contribution to the war effort made by former pupils of the School". These included, among many others, Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC DSO DFC of 617 Squadron, who led 'The Dambusters', flying ace Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader DSO DFC, and Adrian Warburton DSO & Bar DFC& Two Bar, famous for his role in the defence of Malta. Pacifist inclinations during the 1970s and 1980s caused the window to be relocated, but it can now be found back on display in the Old Library.

In 1982, the school admitted its first girl, who joined in the Lower Sixth. The 11th Warden, David Christie, brought about an enormous change to the school when he fully developed the idea of allowing girls to join for the last two years of school (known as the Sixth Form). Following the success of a co-educational Sixth Form, the whole school became fully co-educational in 1997. In 1999, Holly Branson, daughter of Sir Richard Branson, became the school's first ever female Head Prefect and Head of School.

There is a large mural in the school dining hall that depicts life at St. Edward's. Included in the painting are a number of the characters from The Wind in the Willows, written by former pupil Kenneth Grahame.

Recent history

The turn of the millennium brought about a change in the school's buildings and facilities. In succession, two new boarding houses were built, in September 1999 Kendall House opened its doors and the Kendall Quad was formed. At the same time, Corfe became the first girls' boarding house to be located on the playing fields side of the school. In 2000, the Esporta/St. Edward's Health and Raquets Club opened, this development saw major redesigning and landscaping take place. In 2001, the second new boarding house was opened, when Avenue House became the second girls' house to be on the field side of school. A 2nd all-weather astroturf pitch was opened in 2002.

In 2004 Andrew Trotman became the 12th Warden of the school and Segar's moved out of the building it shared with Cowell's into a brand new boarding house, located on the site of the old Oakthorpe Road entrance.

In 2005 St Edward's School was one of fifty independent schools which were found guilty of running an illegal price-fixing cartel which enabled the schools to inflate fees artificially.[4] Each school was required to pay a nominal penalty of £10,000 and all agreed to make ex-gratia payments totalling three million pounds into a trust designed to benefit pupils who attended the schools during the period in respect of which fee information was shared.[5]

July 2007 marked the official opening of The North Wall Arts Centre. The centre has been built on the site of the old school swimming pool, which was the oldest swimming pool in the country. The North Wall Arts Centre is run by Lucy Maycock and is a producing theatre. The North Wall is central to the school, strengthening its links with the local community, which has been seen by many as vital given the current political debate on the charitable status of public schools.[6]

The North Wall Arts Centre won several major architectural awards for its design,[6] including a RIBA award.[7]

In August 2008 The £4m Life Sciences block was opened. Architecturally, it fits in well with the adjacent Tilly's and Macnamara's houses, and its glass green house can be seen from the Quad. Also in 2008 the school's inventory of computers exceeded 1,000; the majority of which are pupil-facing.

In 2009 the pupil accommodation was enhanced and Field House and Sing's House were extended to provide six new bedrooms and a new staff flat. The new Martyrs' cricket pavilion, designed by architect John Pawson, was opened in September by Lord Sandberg of Passfield (OSE).

The newly built Martyrs' Pavilion won the 2010 Oxford Preservation Trust award in the New Buildings category.[8]

Year groups

The school has five-year groups. Pupils typically arrive at the school at 13 years old, having taken their Common Entrance Examination to gain a place at the school, or they can take the School's Scholarship entrance examination. Pupils at the school are aged between 13 and 18 years old. The year groups are as follows:

The bottom year of the school. The pupils are known as Shells (as they are at Radley College and Harrow School and King Edward's School) because when the school first started pupils would be made to sit in a shell-shaped formation around the edge of the Old Library. Once the Shells were deemed clever enough to change years, they left the shell-shaped formation and joined other pupils sat in small groups in the centre of the Old Library. Today the name Shell remains. Pupils in this year are 13–14 years old. They undertake a wide ranging curriculum and, at the end of the first year, they pick the subjects they wish to undertake to GCSE level. During the Shells, pupils get to try out all the extracurricular activities on offer at the school in Shell Circus. Activities include clay pigeon shooting, diving, swimming and rowing.
4th Form
The 4th Form is the first year of the GCSE course proper. Pupils undertake the GCSE courses in English Literature, English Language, Maths and Science. Pupils are allowed to select the other subjects they study from a list that includes French, Spanish, German, Latin, Classical Civilisation, Drama, Physical Education, Geography and History. Pupils must do at least one foreign language. Pupils can undertake non-examined Religious Studies or the Religious Studies GCSE. During the Fourth Form, pupils also undertake a compulsory year in the Combined Cadet Force or a year undertaking community service projects.
5th Form
The 5th Form is the final year of the GCSE course. It is also the most senior year in the lower school. Pupils take mock GCSE examinations in December before undertaking their public GCSE exams in the summer.
Lower Sixth
Traditionally being in the Sixth Form meant extra privileges in the school, for example, male pupils used to be able to wear a much more relaxed school uniform of a dark coloured suit. During this year, pupils begin their A Level studies. In the Lower Sixth, pupil numbers increase as new pupils arrive to undertake their A Level studies at the school. Pupils take their A/S Level examinations in the summer term before starting their applications to university.
Upper Sixth
The final year in the school. Pupils in this year are undertaking the final year of their A Level studies. Pupils are normally at least a House Prefect, which means they are in charge of performing certain house duties. At the end of the year, the pupils take their final A Level or IB exams. Upper Sixth boys and girls are given a bit more freedom than the lower years; for example, they are allowed into Oxford without Housemaster/mistress permission and a chit.


There are 12 boarding houses which are home to approximately 50–60 boys or girls. Each house is run by Housemaster or Housemistress who is a member of the teaching staff at the school and lives in the boarding house with their family. Each house also has a set of House Tutors who supervise Prep (homework) during the week and also tutor members of the house. A pastoral house matron also lives in each boarding house looking after pupils' medical (and often social) needs.

The school has around 120-day pupils, a small proportion of the total. Day pupils are expected to be in school from 8.30 am until 9.00 pm every week day and from 8.30 am until the end of afternoon commitments on a Saturday. The school does not have day houses: all day pupils have a room within a boarding house and in most cases have their own bed and wardrobe. This policy means that the school does not have a day/boarder divide. Teachers often do not know who is a day pupil and who is not.

When only the Sixth Form was fully co-educational, girls were members of boys' houses but slept in what is now Oakthorpe. Houses are identified internally by a lettering system which is based on when the house was established. So the first house, Cowell's is the letter "A", Sing's is "B", Field House is "C" and so on. Certain letters such as L and I have been left out.


Named after a former long serving teacher, Cowells is a quad based house. The building that Cowell's currently occupies was shared with Segar's until 2004 when Segars moved into a new building next door. Upon Segars moving, the building was refurbished and Cowell's house was expanded to occupy the upper two floors of the building. The English Department occupies the ground floor.


Sing's was originally located in the same building as the current Apsley House up to 1965. It is now located on the playing fields of the school, sharing a quad with Field House and Kendall House. It was built in the 1960s and first inhabited in 1965. It is attached at one end to Field House. Sing's House overlooks St. Edward's Avenue and the Avenue playing field. In 2009 a new extension was completed which improved the size and atmosphere of the house. This was part of a project to re-decorate all rooms and re-furbish them. In 2014 the house common rooms were updated and a new kitchen built.

Field House

One of the few houses in the school whose official name includes the word House in it. Field House was originally located off the school grounds further up the Woodstock Road off Squitchey Lane on what was then the former fields surrounding Oxford. Pupils in Field House used to have to walk the mile down the Woodstock Road to school. In the mid 1960s the school sold the original Field House and moved the boys into a new purpose built building on the school playing fields. Presumably due to its situation, Field House has always had a particularly strong sporting tradition, which has been carried on by the present housemaster Mark Hanslip. The original Field House today is a block of flats but is marked on the Woodstock Road by Field House Drive. Until September 2003, Field House and Sings had a joint house matron. Former housemasters include Robert Aldred, Geoffery Boult (OSE and current headmaster of Giggleswick School) and Richard Murray who retired as housemaster in 2013 to take up a new role at as head master at Christ Church. James Quick (current headmaster of the preparatory school of Gresham's School) became the first person to have been housemaster of two St. Edward's houses, having been Apsley housemaster from 1994–2000. A Field House OSE, Tom Pellereau won the British reality show The Apprentice. According to the 2010–2011 edition of the School's official magazine, St. Edward's Chronicle, Kim Aris, the younger son of Nobel Prize-winning Burmese democracy campaigner, Aung San Suu Kyi and Michael Aris, was a member of Field House in the early 1990s.


Macnamara's (or Mac's as it is known) was originally a boys house. It is connected to Tilly's and is located in the Quad. In 1997 the house was changed into a girls' house upon the school becoming fully co-educational.


Apsley was originally located up the Banbury Road. Today a block of flats called Apsley House occupies the original site. The house now sits in the quad opposite Tilly's and Mac's above the school dining hall and Warden's offices. In 1997 the Warden's residence was moved to a property on the Woodstock Road and as a result Apsley was extended. Apsley has had many prefects, several in recent years. Richard Plemming has recently left and Ollie Richards has taken over the position of Housemaster.


Tilly's is named after Warden Tilly. It is located in the Quad and is attached to Mac's. It has recently been refurbished to allow four new VI form rooms, Assistant HM and resident tutor accommodation. Tilly's traditionally has been strong in sports and more recently has found strength in the academic side with prizes being won for Shells prep excellence and 4th form merits.


Segar's was originally located in the same building as Cowell's but in 2004 the house moved into a brand new building next to the Cowell's/Segar building. The new Segar's Building was built on the site of the old Oakthorpe Road back entrance to the school. David Gibbon took over as Housemaster from Andrew Wright in September 2007, he was previously Head of Mathematics at the school. He has now left and been replaced by Simon Roche.

Segar's has a traditional a rivalry with Cowells — the house Segar's shared the a building with until 2004.


Corfe is named after Corfe Castle which has strong ties with Saint Edward the Martyr. It was extended in the 1990s. It was originally a boys' boarding house although in 1999 it closed it doors to boys. In a rather surprising move, the name Corfe stayed with the boarding house rather than the cohort of boys who had lived in it. So for a time between 1999 and 2004, some boys in the school had been members of both Corfe and Kendall House (the newly built house the boys moved into). To complicate matters, the letter "H", which was used to identify Corfe in shorthand became the shorthand for Kendall House. Thus the shorthand letter followed the boys but the name of the house didn't. Today Corfe is one of two girls houses located on the playing fields and is identified by the letter "K".


Oakthorpe was opened in 1997 for the first year of full co-education and takes its name from its situation on Oakthorpe Road. In 1999 Judy Young took over from Anne Brookes. Housemistress: Judy Young joined Oakthorpe as Housemistress in 1999. She has taught at St. Helen’s and St Katharine’s, Wycombe Abbey, Lancing College, Oxford High School and at Westfield School, Newcastle upon Tyne. Young teaches Physics as well as running the House. She is now the senior HM and she also helps with the RAF section of the CCF.

Kendall House

Kendall House was opened in 1999 to accommodate the boys of Corfe who had moved out to make way for the girls to move into Corfe. Upon its completion it formed the Kendall Quad on the playing field side of the school, with Field House and Sing's forming the other sides of the quad. Kendall overlooks Upper One, the school's premier rugby pitch. Kendall is identified by the letter "H". It is the most modern boys house in the school (1999) therefore the house is very modern and generally viewed by pupils as one of the best houses.It has a great rivalry with Field House due to their proximity. James Cope became housemaster in 2007, having previously been the school's Head of Geography. However he stepped down at the end of the 2014 school year and was replaced by Phillip Waghorn, the former head of physics and who is active in rugby, rowing and especially sailing.

Avenue House

Avenue House was opened in 2001. It was originally built in two phases with the second phase opening in 2004. It is situated on St. Edward's Avenue hence its name. It is a girls' house and is situated on the school playing fields. It is connected to Corfe. For a time, prior to the opening of the second phase, some girls were housed in the former school medical centre, Cooper Lodge. Cooper Lodge has, since the opening of the full house, been turned into the Junior Common Room (JCR) and staff accommodation.

Jubilee House

Jubilee officially opened in September, 2013. It is currently the most modern girls boarding house as well as the most modern boarding house in the school. It is situated next to Kendall House and it overlooks onto Upper One, the school's premier rugby pitch. Its current housemistress is Mrs Gowen.


The main school sports are rugby, hockey, cricket, rowing, netball, tennis, squash and athletics. The school has over 90 acres (360,000 m2) of playing fields in North Oxford.

The school has many inter-house sports events including the Steeplechase, and inter-house hockey, rugby, netball, squash, swimming and football among others. The Steeplechase is the school's annual cross country race, it is held once a year. The Sixth Form race in the Senior Steeplechase which is a 4-mile (6.4 km) race across Port Meadow the floodplain of the River Thames, accessed from the school grounds via the Oxford Canal towpath. The Junior Steeplechase, meanwhile, confines itself to within the school grounds.

The school has a regular fixture list against other major UK public schools. Some of the fixtures on the fixture list have been played on the same weekend each year for decades. In boys' sports the schools main rivals include Radley College and Marlborough College and in girls sports, Marlborough, Stowe, and Oundle School.

In rowing the school has won The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta on four occasions. The only British schools to have won the event more than often are Eton College and St Paul's School, London.[10] In 2013 the boys 1st VIII boat rowed in the fastest Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup final ever seen at Henley, chasing the holders Abingdon School down to within half a length. Both crews beat the existing course record, having dispatched other leading international schools on the way to the final. In 2014, the boys 1st VIII were again the losing finalists, this time to Eton in another very close race. Having won Henley events seven times, (including three years as winners of the now discontinued Special Race for Schools) and been the losing finalist seven times,[11] St. Edward's School is the third most successful boys rowing school behind Eton College and Shrewsbury School. The school regularly provides rowers for Great Britain junior crews before going on to compete in the annual Oxbridge boat race or at Ivy League Universities.

Recent successes in hockey have included making the National Finals for both boys' and girls' hockey. The girls hockey has been particularly strong over the last ten years and teams are frequently County Champions. In 2013/14 the school had both boys and girls in Regional, National and Great Britain squads. In 2010 the boys hockey 1st XI won the inaugural Charlie Barker Trophy, a competition between local rival schools including Radley College, Eton College, Marlborough College, Abingdon School and Cheltenham College and finished the season unbeaten.

St. Edward's is regarded as a rugby school. The 1st XV of 2007 were only beaten in one game, becoming the first team to do so since 1998 and there are some six former or present pupils in their respective age group's England development squads/teams including James Forrester. The school has in recent years had an 82% success rate in Rugby Sevens. Smaller in number than many of their rivals, they frequently punch above their weight, aided by strong coaching throughout the school.

Cricket has been particularly strong in recent years, culminating in the 2013 season which was one of the most successful in the School's history for the 1st XI, which included victories over Radley College, Harrow, Uppingham School and Cheltenham College.

The school regularly sends teams on foreign sports tours. The girls netball team had a very successful tour to Barbados in 2014, and a combined girls hockey and boys rugby tour to Australia is planned in 2015.

A book about sport at the School, "Come on Teddies" has recently been published.


Sports facilities include:

Indoor Sports Hall
2 All Weather Astro Turf Pitches
9 hole Golf Course
Boat House located on the River Thames in the nearby village of Wolvercote
Purpose Built Netball Courts
Basketball Court
Indoor Rifle Range
Clay Pigeon Shooting area
15 Rugby Pitches
8 Cricket Pitches
Swimming Pool (within Esporta/St. Edward's Sports Centre)
Indoor Tennis Courts (within Esporta/St.Edward's Sports Centre)
Squash Courts
Gym (within Virgin Active/St. Edward's Sports Centre)

The School is home to an Esporta Health Club. This was built on the site of the school's former sports centre (The Douglas Bader Sports Centre) and outdoor swimming pool in 1999 and opened in 2000. Within the club the school has its own sports hall, named the Douglas Bader Sports Hall. As part of the agreement between St. Edward's and Esporta, pupils have free access to the club's gym and squat rack. The gym was renovated in the summer of 2013, with new equipment including three bench presses, and a curl rack. The school has had an Aesthetics society since 2011, with the students training regularly to perfect their physiques.

Teddies also host touring schools. The most notable of these is The King's School, Sydney who come to St. Edward's to play rugby once every two years when on their UK tour.

Military links

The school has links with the armed forces, in particular The Royal Air Force. A large number of former pupils have gone on to serve in the forces, most notably Second World War heroes Arthur Banks, Douglas Bader, Guy Gibson and Adrian Warburton.[12] In the Old Library the school has on display a stained glass window presented to them by the Royal Air Force to thank them for their role in the education of Second World War heroes. To this day the school maintain a Combined Cadet Force. The school also has a scholarship fund to assist pupils whose parents are in the armed forces.

Alumni (OSE)

Former pupils of St. Edward's are known as Old St Edwards, abbreviated to OSE. The Old St. Edward's Society exists to maintain traditions and to promote the interests of the School, and to encourage mutual help between those who are and those who have been its members. It consists of past and present Wardens and members of the Masters' Common Room and all former pupils.

The society is run by a President and Secretary. Each year a new OSE President is elected. The OSE Society organise Special Gaudies for former pupils. Special Gaudies are held twice a year and are used as a means for former pupils to visit the school and see what has changed. The OSE Society also runs the very successful "OSE Undergraduate Evenings"; these evenings take place in notable university cities throughout the year, hosted by the Hon. Secretary.

All members of the society may wear the society tie which is blue, with a gold cup and dagger on it. Former pupils are entitled to wear the Rhubarb Tie.

Notable OSE include:

Notable masters

Notable masters of the school include:

International links

The school maintains links with institutions around the world. Pictured above is The Doon School, India.

The school has built up links with a number of schools around the world, which include:

Mayo College, India.
An exchange programme was set up in 1997 which saw a lower sixth boy study at Mayo and a lower sixth boy from Mayo study at Teddy's.
The Gilman School Baltimore, USA.
Gilman and St. Edward's operate a scholarship known as the Hardie Scholarship. One Lower Sixth boy from St. Edward's studies at Gilman during March/April and a Junior from Gilman studies at St. Edward's during June. The scholarship was created by Thomas G Hardie II and his wife Dee Hardie in the 1970s. Mr Hardie died on 7 June 2007. Gilman and St. Edward's have confirmed the scholarship will continue. The ties between Gilman and Teddy's were further strengthened in 2003 when the Gilman School choir sung at Teddy's as part of their UK tour and again in 2007 when the Teddy's choir sung at Gilman as part of their US Tour. St. Edward's held a joint concert with Gilman in March 2008 to celebrate the life of Mr Hardie.
Roland Park Country School, Baltimore, USA.
In 2004 St. Edward's established an exchange programme with Roland Park. The programme runs at the same time as the Harry Hardie Scholarship, with one lower sixth girl from St. Edward's studying at Roland Park and a Junior girl from Roland Park studying at St. Edward's.
The Doon School, India.
An exchange programme was set up in 2002 which saw a lower sixth boy study at Doon School and a lower sixth boy from Doon study at Teddy's.
The King's School, Parramatta
King's traditionally play Teddy's once every two years during their UK Rugby tour. 2003 was the first time Teddy's played King's in Sydney.


  1. "St Edward's Oxford, Oxford – Fees". Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  2. Tyack, Geoffrey (1998). Oxford An Architectural Guide. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press. p. 238. ISBN 0-19-817423-3.
  3. Sherwood, Jennifer; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1974). The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. p. 332. ISBN 0-14-071045-0.
  4. Halpin, Tony (10 November 2005). "Independent schools face huge fines over cartel to fix fees". The Times. London. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  5. "OFT names further trustees as part of the independent schools settlement – The Office of Fair Trading". Retrieved 12 May 2011.
  6. 1 2 Northwall website
  7. "RIBA National Awards 2008". 23 June 2008. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
  8. "News". 18 January 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
  10. "Results of Final Races – 1946–2003".
  11. "Results of Final Races – 1946–2003".
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 "St Edward's Oxford – Notable OSE". Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  13. Tozer, Malcolm, ed. (2012). Physical Education and Sport in Independent Schools. John Catt Educational Ltd. p. 291. ISBN 9781908095442.
  14. White, Laurence (28 August 2015). "John Mark Ambrose Herdman: Ulster diplomat served all over world in a distinguished career". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  15. Holmes, Thom (2013). The Routledge Guide to Music Technology. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. p. 223. ISBN 9781135477806. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  16. School website
  17. , The Guardian.

External links

Coordinates: 51°46′36.55″N 01°16′07.27″W / 51.7768194°N 1.2686861°W / 51.7768194; -1.2686861

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