Horspath School and The Church of England


© Oxfordshire History Centre

The present school was preceded by a small school for nine children, established between 1738 and 1759, with the minister as the paid teacher. In the very early 19th century, a second school had opened, with fourteen children attending, although after 1815 there seems to be no further record. In 1825, the Minister, Dr Ellerton, MA, bought two cottages with some land; one cottage to be a dwelling for the schoolmistress, and the other to be a place of education for between twelve and fifteen poor children. They were to be members of the Church; the boys learnt reading, writing and the Catechism, and the girls simply sewing, knitting and marking. But by 1835 the school had not been started. In 1854 there is a record of one day school for 35 and a Sunday School for 50.

In 1856 Magdalen College advanced £100 for the building of the present school, opened in 1858, and the two cottages were annexed to the perpetual curacy of Horspath. In 1864 a further £50 from the college provided a house for the schoolmaster. By 1871 there was a room for up to 71 pupils, but only 48 regularly attended. The school was further enlarged in 1873, allowing up to 100 pupils. In 1905 the school was substantially enlarged again, with medical examinations provided from 1907, and disinfectant introduced for use in the classrooms! 1910 saw the house completely remodelled, and between 1903 and 1914, the average attendance was 75 to 80 children.

After the Second World War, all children reaching the age of 11 then went to Wheatley or Littlemore Schools and the school was reorganised as a Church school for juniors and infants.

The School and The Church Today

churchThe school is a voluntary controlled (VC) school. As is common for VC schools, the church owns the land on which the school is built, but does not contribute financially to the running of the school. The church is represented on the school governing body by “foundation governors” who represent up to one quarter of the total number of governors; there are currently two foundation governors on the governing body.

The school and the parish church enjoy several joint events. The village fete, typically held every two years, is organised by the church and the school PTA, and raises funds for both. The reception class nativity play is performed in the church each December. The vicar of St Giles is a school governor, and leads school assembly once a fortnight.

School Ethos

nativityHorspath C of E Primary School values and supports all of its members as individuals. It is a happy, welcoming and safe environment which promotes learning and self-confidence. We are a church school:

  • Where children from all cultures and faiths thrive, learning skills and behaviours that will guide them their whole lives.
  • That underpins teaching, learning and daily school life with the Christian values of forgiveness, respect for others, truth and a sense of accountability.
  • Where all children from every background have the very best that the school community can give them so that they are challenged and inspired to achieve their full potential.
  • A school that encourages work and play across the age range so that children and staff know everyone in the school community.
  • A school that is a key member of our local community.


The church plays no part in admission of pupils to the school, which is handled centrally by Oxfordshire County Council. The school does not (and cannot) discriminate in favour of or against any religion or absence of religion.

Religious Education and Collective Worship

Religious education (RE) is not part of the National Curriculum but must be taught in schools by law. The syllabus is agreed locally; it teaches children about different faiths and beliefs, and stresses the importance of respecting these.  More details about Oxfordshire’s agreed RE syllabus, and the new syllabus being introduced from September 2015 can be found on the OCC website.

The school’s relationship with the church does not change parents’ statutory right to withdraw their child from religious education or collective worship.

 SIAMs Inspections

Independently of Ofsted inspections, the school receives SIAMs inspections to evaluate the distinctiveness and effectiveness of the school as a church school. These typically take place every five years; the most recent inspection was in May 2018.