Oxford High School (Oxford)

Oxford High School
Motto Ad Lucem
(To the light)
Established 1875
Type Independent School
Headmistress Judith Cardle
Location Oxford
United Kingdom
Staff 120
Students 952
Gender Girls
Ages 3–18
Website www.oxfordhigh.gdst.net
View of the main entrance at the top of Charlbury Road.

Oxford High School (OHS) is a private girls' school based at Belbroughton Road, Oxford, England, made up of around nine hundred pupils aged three to eighteen.



View on Banbury Road with No. 21 on the right, next to the current Oxford University Computing Services.

The school began life on 3 November 1875, with twenty-nine girls and three teachers under headmistress Ada Benson, at the Judge's Lodgings (St Giles' House) at 16 St Giles', central Oxford.[1] It was the 9th school opened by the Girls' Public Day School Company. Pupils were given a holiday when the Assize Judge visited. The school moved to 38 St Giles' in 1879 and then to 21 Banbury Road at the start of 1881, in a building designed by Sir Thomas Graham Jackson, just south of the location of another Jackson building, the Acland Nursing Home.[2] Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) taught logic to girls at the school in the late 19th century.[3]

Rapid expansion led to the ultimate removal of the school to Belbroughton Road in 1957. It became independent in 1976. The Junior Department at Belbroughton Road was opened in 1989, with 100 pupils aged 9–11, and closed in 1999 following the 1997 merger between OHS, Greycotes and the Squirrel School.

Present day

Current fees[when?] are £3,240 per term.[citation needed] Its Junior Department is composed of Greycotes and The Squirrel, both on separate campuses; the Squirrel pre-prep department also educates boys between the ages of three and seven. It is a member of the Girls' Day School Trust (GDST), an association of 29 private girls' secondary schools in the UK. It is led by headmistress Judith Carlisle and the two deputy heads; the pastoral Deputy head Olwen Curry (MA, MSc Oxon — Biology) and the academic Deputy head Dr Peter Secker (BSc PhD Birmingham — Mathematics).


The school consistently occupies a high place in national league tables, although it does operate a selective admissions procedure and it has been often accused by some of putting these results ahead of education and welfare. The school appears to suffer on the national league tables in GCSE results, purportedly because the IGCSE in Mathematics that students sit is not recognised in the majority of league tables. The subjects OHS offer are predominantly academic although Music, Drama, Art, DT, Textiles and IT can also be taken.[4]

In 2001, Oxford High School was threatened with a lawsuit by the Freud family, who accused the school of excluding their daughter because her academic results were not of a high enough standard, when the junior school refused her admittance to the Senior Department.[5] The school takes great pride in its sixth form where they offer a wide variety of A-level subjects including Italian (that is learned in 2 years), economics, philosophy, politics and psychology.

In 2006, Oxford High School announced that it was taking the unusual step of making Mandarin Chinese a compulsory subject for pupils in their first year. These pupils will then have to take either French or Mandarin until at least the end of year 9. Until recently French was compulsory for all students until they reached sixth form. However now the school has changed its policy allowing girls to drop French providing that they take another modern foreign language at GCSE. The school is also in the process of opening a twin school in Shanghai.[6]


Oxford High School has variety of different languages available to all students, along with plenty of extra-curricular activities. It is compulsory in Year 7 to take both Mandarin Chinese and French, then to continue with one of these in Year 8 along with Latin. In year 9, you also gain another language from the choice of Russian, Ancient Greek, Spanish and German. For GCSE it is compulsory to take at least one foreign modern language. In Sixth form (Years 12 and 13) there is also the choice of learning Italian.


  • Ada Benson 1875–1879
  • Matilda Ellen Bishop 1879–1887
  • Lucy Helen Soulsby 1887–1897
  • Edith Marion Leahy 1898–1902
  • Rosalind Mabel Brown 1902–1932
  • Margaret Gale 1932–1936
  • Violet Evelyn Stack 1937–1959
  • M.E. Ann Hancock 1959–1966
  • Mary Warnock 1966–1972
  • Elaine Kaye 1972–1981
  • Joan Townsend 1981–1996
  • Felicity Lusk 1997–2010 [7]
  • Judith Carlisle 2011–[8]


The girls in the senior department are divided into four houses, each named after an Ancient Greek deity:

Notable former pupils


  1. ^ St Giles' House (Judge's Lodgings), 16 St Giles' Street, Oxford (where OHS was founded).
  2. ^ Sherwood, Jennifer, and Pevsner, Nikolaus, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, Penguin Books, 1974. ISBN 0-14-0710-45-0. Page 317.
  3. ^ CLD and females.[dead link]
  4. ^ Oxford High School: Letter, September 2006.[dead link]
  5. ^ Abrams, Fran, You may be a poppet, but you're just not up to scratch, The Independent, 8 March 2001.
  6. ^ Headmistress's Letter, Oxford High School, Summer 2006.
  7. ^ Joanna Sugden, No job for the boys as Abingdon School picks woman head, The Times, November 25, 2009.
  8. ^ http://www.oxfordhigh.gdst.net/news/year/2009-10/new-head.htm New Head for Oxford High School], Oxford High School, 2010.

External links

Coordinates: 51°46′24″N 1°15′34″W / 51.77333°N 1.25944°W / 51.77333; -1.25944

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