Headington Rye Oxford

We are delighted to share with you some really exciting news about our school. Over the course of the next two years, Headington School will join with our neighbours, Rye St Antony, to create a new senior and prep school. We are curious, confident, ambitious schools which share a beautiful location and very similar educational and Christian values. We will take the best of both schools to create an exciting new school for both current and future generations of children.

Book your place on an open event now

Message from Caroline Jordan, Headmistress
Message from Caroline Jordan, Headmistress
Message from Mrs Jane Crouch, Head of Headington Prep
Message from Mrs Jane Crouch, Head of Headington Prep
Message from Carol Oster Warriner, Chair of Governors
Message from Carol Oster Warriner, Chair of Governors

Downloadable PDF

Frequently Asked Questions

The purpose of these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) is to help answer any queries you may have regarding the merger of Headington School Oxford Limited (Headington) and Rye St Antony School Limited (Rye).

What has been announced?

The Governors of both Headington and Rye are pleased to announce they have today entered into a legal commitment to merge both schools to form a single, all-through school for pupils aged from 3 to 18 years. 

The merger will take place over a two-year period. When complete, the new combined school will operate a single-sex senior school for girls from Year 7 to Year 13 which will operate on the current Headington senior school site. A prep school, for both boys and girls from Nursery to Year 6, will operate from the current Rye St Antony site.  

Why have the Governors of both schools decided to make these changes?

Merging will allow us to bring together the best of Headington and Rye to create an even better school with teaching, pastoral care and a range of subjects and facilities which will aim to be the best on offer in Oxfordshire. Maintaining and expanding the quality of education we offer all our pupils has been our primary concern when considering this exciting opportunity.

This is a carefully thought-through decision, after much discussion, consultation with Senior Leaders and consideration of detailed legal and financial advice. The close proximity of both schools and the shared vision and values makes the merger compelling, both educationally and financially. The pace of change will be careful and gradual over a two-year period, ensuring current pupils will continue to receive an excellent education surrounded by friends and teachers they know and trust. 

At the same time, it is a prudent and forward-looking plan which considers society-wide changes such as the declining birth rate, increased cost of living and growing political threats. The Governors and Senior Leadership are determined to protect the long-term future of both schools whilst keeping fees as low as possible.  By merging we are also able to protect the charitable foundations of our schools and ensure that any surpluses can be reinvested back into the schools.

What is the timeframe for the merger?

From September 2024, pupils and staff from Headington Prep School will move to the Rye site to join their peers and colleagues to form the new combined Prep School. Pupils from Year 7 and above from Rye, along with the Senior School staff, will move to join their peers and colleagues to form the new combined Senior School on the Headington site. 

A smooth transition for all pupils and continuity of provision for exam classes will be our priority. We will seek to carefully support our pupils and staff during this period.  

What will be the name of the merged school?

Both Governing bodies have agreed to call the merged school ‘Headington Rye Oxford’ to acknowledge the history of both schools and to reflect the joint nature of the merger. The charity name will be Headington Rye Oxford Limited. 

What will happen to the Headington Prep School site?

No decisions have yet been taken by the Governors and all options remain under consideration; however, the site will continue to operate fully as a prep school until September 2024. It is likely that some Headington Rye Senior School sixth form classes will be taught on the current Headington Prep site during the academic year 2024-25.

Who will lead the new school?

Mrs Caroline Jordan is the Headmistress of Headington Rye Oxford and Mrs Jane Crouch is Head of Headington Rye Oxford Prep School. However, for the remainder of the current academic year, the Heads of both senior and prep schools for Headington and Rye will remain unchanged. Mrs Jordan and Mrs Crouch, supported by Mrs Sarah Davis and senior staff from both schools, will oversee the merger plans and be responsible for the recruitment of pupils for September 2024.

How will the merged schools be governed?

The School will be governed by a new unified Governing Body led by Mrs Carol Oster Warriner.  Ms Carla Stanley from Rye St Antony and Dr Kate Ringham from Headington are joint Vice Chairs. 

Is the new School still a charity?

Yes – Headington Rye Oxford is registered as a charity in the same way as Headington and Rye were previously. Unlike an increasing number of for-profit schools in the region, it will be able to reinvest surpluses generated for the benefit of its pupils.

Academic questions

If Headington and Rye have different academic profiles, how will the two schools support current pupils and merge successfully?

Both Headington and Rye are selective schools. Whilst it is acknowledged that the threshold for entry in each school is slightly different, the academic teams in both schools are confident that they will be able to provide the appropriate support for all current pupils.

How will the merged school ensure academic standards remain high?

Headington Rye Oxford will continue to have an excellent academic reputation. Over the last three years, Headington has invested in a greater range of A Level subjects in order to ensure pupils have greater choice when deciding on the most appropriate academic pathway through to university or apprenticeships. We have already introduced additional subjects and brought together the best of Headington and Rye’s existing curriculums.

My daughter has already started her GCSE, BTEC or A Level course – how will the new merged school ensure that her learning is not disrupted?

The school recognises that many pupils studying for exams will have commenced a two-year curriculum and thus we remain committed to supporting all of the pupils through their current curriculum courses. Where possible, pupils will be taught in their current classes by their existing teachers for the remainder of the two-year course to ensure continuity of support throughout these important years.

Will pupils from both schools be integrated into new classes?

With the exception of those year groups studying for public exams where classes will remain unchanged, it is the intention of the academic teams to fully integrate pupils from both schools into new classes from September 2024.  

Pupils progressing up from the Prep School are already mixed with new pupils joining the school at both 11+ and 13+ and thus a similar process will be followed for those joining from Rye and Headington in Years 7, 8 and 9.

Is there an entry criteria for pupils wishing to progress to the Sixth Form?

Yes – pupils must achieve a minimum grade in their GCSEs in the subjects that they wish to study for A Levels or BTECs in order to progress to the Sixth Form at Headington Rye Oxford. 

Will Headington Rye Oxford continue to offer the Leiths Food and Wine Certificate?

Yes – Headington Rye Oxford will offer the Leiths Food and Wine Certificate. Dame Prue Leith is a former Headington parent and recently opened the new Food Technology Centre on the Senior School site. We are proud to continue to offer this demanding course alongside the more traditional subjects. 

Will pupils be taught in larger classes?

Class sizes in the Prep School will vary between 12 to 20 pupils depending on demand. Each year group will be supported by a dedicated Learning Assistant in addition to the Form Teachers. Pupils will also benefit from specialist teaching as currently on offer.  

The maximum class size in the Senior School will be 24, with average class sizes around 20. Classes in the Sixth Form will vary depending on subject and demand.  

The Academic Teams believe that the proposed class sizes are academically robust, whilst also ensuring teachers can support individual learners.    

Will pupils be taught by teachers from both schools?

Yes – both Headington and Rye are fortunate to attract high quality and experienced educational practitioners. Teachers from both schools will be integrated into single subject departments and faculties from September 2024.

Can parents request that their child is taught by a particular teacher?

No – the timetable is complex for a school offering such a wide range of subjects. It is not possible for parents to request that their child is taught by a particular teacher.

Pastoral questions

How will boys be integrated into the Prep School?

The School has a capacity for 400 pupils and it is expected there will be a strong demand for places. The School will cater fully for boys from the outset to ensure that they receive an equally stimulating education and access to a wide range of appropriate co-curricular sports and activities.  

What is the vision for the new Prep School?

The Governors’ vision is that the new Headington Rye Prep School will become the school of choice for local families seeking an outstanding education for their sons and daughters in central Oxford, with first class facilities, superb academic and co-curricular choice, and a reputation for excellence.

Where will boys go after Year 6?

Parents in Oxford have a wide choice of schools available to boys progressing into Year 7.  Some boys may choose to remain local and opt for Magdalen College School, continuing to travel to school on the same integrated bus network. Alternatively, some families may opt to travel further afield to take advantage of a wide range of different types of schools. The staff at Headington Rye Oxford will be able to advise and support families in making the appropriate choice for their son when selecting their senior school. 

Why will the Senior School remain single sex?

Headington Rye Oxford is firmly committed to single-sex education for pupils in the Senior School, recognising the many strengths that this brings for pupils, free from the traditional stereotypes. As a city centre school with many joint educational and social activities with local boys’ schools, we believe that Headington Rye Oxford offers the very best of both types of education.

Rye has an outstanding record for pastoral support and is currently much smaller. How will pupils be supported pastorally in a much larger school?

Both Headington and Rye have a strong reputation and commitment to pastoral care.  

Individual pupils in the Senior School will be supported by two Form Tutors, a Head of Year and both an Academic and Pastoral Head of Section. Additionally, pupils will have access to an appropriately-staffed Wellbeing Centre, as well as support from a team of qualified and experienced School Counsellors. All pupils also have access to a dedicated and highly qualified nursing team. The local GPs also operate weekly clinics for boarders.

Pupils in the Prep School are also supported by Year Group Learning Assistants, School Counsellors and a Wellbeing Assistant. 

Will there be a new uniform?

The School has consulted both pupils and parents to gather their views related to uniform for the new school.

Full details of the uniform for 2024-25 will be published in the coming months.

Will the Sixth Form have to wear uniform?

No – pupils will continue to wear their own clothes in line with the dress code whilst in the Sixth Form.

Boarding questions

Will Headington Rye Oxford continue to admit boarders?

Yes – Headington Rye Oxford will continue to admit full boarders, weekly boarders and half-weekly boarders from Year 7 and above. Initially, boarding will be basedon the current Headington senior school site in September 2024. 

Will Headington Rye Oxford continue to recruit international boarders?

Yes – Headington Rye Oxford will continue to offer boarding places to both UK and international pupils. We believe strongly that there is significant benefit of pupils being taught in a diverse and multicultural environment, where tolerance and understanding is promoted and encouraged.  

Religious ethos and teaching

Rye St Antony is a Catholic School and Headington follows the rites and traditions of the Church of England. How will pupils of different faiths be supported?

Although Rye St Antony was set up as a Catholic School and Headington as a Church of England School, both schools share a broad Christian ethos and admit pupils of all faiths and of none. Headington Rye Oxford will reflect this by continuing to have a broad Christian ethos whilst supporting pupils of all faiths and of none.

Both Catholic and Church of England pupils and staff will still be supported along with pupils of all faiths and none. The School will continue to have an ordained minister and lay Catholic Chaplain on the staff and they will work together to further develop the broad Christian ethos that the two schools have in common. They will support pupils of all faiths and none and ensure that proper provision is made for those of specific faiths, mindful of the heritage of the two merged schools. 

Admissions questions

Will the merger impact school fees?

Headington Rye Oxford will operate a single fee structure from September 2024. The Governors believe that the Headington Rye will continue to offer excellent value for money.

Will the new school be selective?

Yes – Headington Rye Oxford will remain a selective school as both schools currently are. Places will be offered to those pupils who meet the entry criteria for the new school and who, in the view of the academic team, will be able to thrive at Headington Rye Oxford. All current pupils will be able to stay at Headington Rye Oxford for the entirety of their education provided they meet the current criteria for selection.

Will the academic profile of the new school change?

No – there is no intention to reduce the academic entry standard for pupils joining the new school. The Governors believe that it is vital to maintain the academic profile of Headington Rye Oxford in order to build trust and confidence amongst both current and prospective pupils and parents.  

Will Rye and Headington pupils currently in receipt of a means-tested bursary continue to receive financial support?

Yes – all pupils currently in receipt of a means-tested bursary will continue to receive financial support in the new school, subject to routine annual review of personal circumstances.

Will Rye and Headington pupils currently in receipt of a scholarship award continue to be viewed as a scholar and receive the same programme of support/reward?

Yes – all existing scholarship awards will be honoured according to the terms of the original offer. Scholars from both schools will take advantage of the same programme of scholarship events and support.