At the start of this term our school in Oxford was inspected by OFSTED under its new framework which was introduced this September. The judgement of this inspection was a disappointment for us, but the issues it raises must be addressed.

You will recall that the Academy Trust Board took the decision earlier this year to find new Trusts to take on all its schools. The principal reason for this was that the current funding model simply does not work for a specialist SEMH Trust spread over several geographical regions, dealing with multiple local authorities, and striving to provide some of the most challenged children in society with the education and other opportunities they deserve in a safe, caring environment. The OFSTED report rightly mentions the challenges which Northern House School (Oxford) has faced in recruiting and retaining staff in one of the country’s most expensive cities in which to live and work. This has undoubtedly made it difficult to offer the consistently high standards for which the school has been known for so long.

Right now, the Regional Schools Commissioner’s preferred new Trust is consulting with stakeholders and, if all goes well, will assume management of our Oxford school in the early months of 2020.

In the meantime, we will work hard to effect the improvements that OFSTED say are needed.

In passing on the baton, we would like to emphasise the outstanding quality of education that our pupils have enjoyed in the three years since the school was last inspected in 2016.

Our Key Stage 2 results have surpassed all expectations for three years running. Indeed, many of our pupils have bettered their mainstream peers in some subjects.

In 2019, of the 23 year 6 pupils who took the national tests, 90% met or exceeded nationally benchmarked expectations.

In 2018, our Oxford pupils outperformed the national mainstream average score in the reading test by 108.6-105.1. The ‘pass mark’ for children nationally is 100.

In 2017, our Oxford pupils outperformed the national mainstream average in the reading test by 105.3 – 103.9.

According to Arbor Education Partners, overall performance in reading is summarised in their report dated 19 September 2019:

“At Northern House School (Oxford) the overall progress score in reading is 3.54 points. This is 3.51 points higher than the national average.”

Of course,  education is much more than a narrow academic curriculum. In the three years since the last inspection all our pupils have had access to a wide range of activities to develop their self-confidence.

Every child has enjoyed:

  • Making and sharing breakfasts together in class every day
  • Sitting down with their own and other classes together for lunch, preceded by a daily prayer
  • Whole school weekly assemblies in which Social, Moral and Cultural issues are addressed
  • Whole school trips to Cotswold Wildlife park, sponsored by the Rotary club
  • Whole school trips to Cotswold Water park
  • Forest school
  • Swimming and trampolining lessons accessed by all pupils offsite
  • Drama performances where roles are given to every child in the school, attended by parents and families
  • PE coaching, offered by bought-in external providers
  • Christmas carol service at St Edward’s private school
  • Christmas lunch in the Harry Potter-like dining hall of St Edward’s
  • Annual sports days in which every child participates and competes, attended by parents and families
  • Regular fundraising events such as Macmillan Coffee Mornings, to which parents and families are invited

Depending on ability, interest and need, some children have benefited from:

  • Individual music lessons
  • Individual therapy with play, art, drama, speech and language and occupational health specialists
  • Rehearsals and performances with local mainstream schools under the guidance of the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra
  • School choir performances at Dorchester Abbey, Blenheim Palace and the Royal Albert Hall
  • Membership of the Student Council

It is no surprise that parents frequently share their delight at the progress their children make at the school. The 2019 written feedback we have received from our parents is as follows:

93% say their child enjoys school;  92% say the school keeps their child safe; 86% say their child is making enough progress; 93% say the teaching is good; 79% say the school meets their child’s particular needs; 93% say the school is well led and managed;  82% say they are happy with their child’s overall experience at school.

As a result, parents ensure their children attend regularly. The 2018-2019 attendance figure was 92.4%, significantly higher than the national average attendance rate for primary SEMH schools.

This is a solid foundation on which to build. We are confident that our pupils will continue to thrive under the guidance of the incoming Trust.


Ian Barker


Northern House School Academy Trust



November 2019 - School News

Robin class visited Cutteslowe Park

Robin class visited Cutteslowe Park to explore the playground equipment and find out which forces each piece uses.  We had great fun pushing the swings, pulling the roundabout and using friction and gravity to slide down the slides.  The children were all really well behaved and had a lovely time.

See the pictures here!

October 2019 - School News

Wren class took a trip to Cutteslowe Park...

Last week Wren class went out to Cutteslowe Park to explore for signs of autumn. We took the opportunity to visit the bird and butterfly enclosure, which was very exciting. When we were at the pond the ducks came to say hello! We finished off our trip with a quick play in the park. Well done Wren class for behaving so well. We had an amazing time.

See the pictures here!

July 2019 - School News

11th July 2019

Encore, Encore...more!

Following the success of the Buddy Ensemble at the Royal Albert Hall, 8 of our pupils were selected to restage the amazing performance at a concert at Blenheim Palace.

As well as having a picnic before a final rehearsal, the performance was watched by numerous parents and a selection of VIP. These included Time Stevenson OBE: the Lord Lieutenant to the Queen!

Full Story Here!

2nd July 2019

Fireytale Ending

We were lucky enough to have a visit from a real firefighter in Red Kite Class. She brought in her different suits and equipment. We learnt how to be safe with fire; about the firefighting profession; what to do in case of a fire; how to do CPR in care of an emergency; and we even had the opportunity to try on a small firefighter’s suits made for children!

Full Story Here!

June 2019 - School News

24th June 2019

The Dark Codes

On Thursday 20th June the school was invaded by aliens. Fortunately the children were able to save the school by solving mathematical challenges and problems. They needed to work in teams to crack the code. There was amazing team work and many demonstrated the excellent progress they have made in Maths. Some children enjoyed the session so much that they have requested Maths lessons be like that every day!

Click here to view pictures

23rd June 2019

Geography Week In Chaffinch

During our geography week we focussed on China. We explored where China was in the world, which 14 countries surround it and whether we would like to live in a megacity. This was followed by looking at the impact of the growing economy, including the positives and negatives of the Three Gorges Dam.

Full Story Here!

20th June 2019

We're Going to the Zoo!  

Wren Class would like to say a big thank you to the Rotary Club for the trip to the Cotswold Wildlife Park; for transporting us all there and back safely and for providing us with such a yummy lunch. We all had a great day and were so lucky that it didn’t rain all day!

Full Story Here!

17 June 2019

'Statement From The Board' - Click the link to read

May 2019 - School News

6th May 2019

Northern House School (Oxford) recently had a visit from a STEM Ambassador, Antoine du Baret, and his 3D printer! Antoine is a design engineer and he talked to some groups of children about his job and showed them how his printer worked.

Full Story Here!

April 2019 - School News

8th April 2019

Chaffinch Residential Trip

We returned safely from our fantastic residential at PGL in Dorset. After a long journey we reached the coast, which was bathed in sun. Our afternoon started with the Giant Swing, followed by the Tunnels. In the evening we went to the shop, watched a DVD and settled into our rooms. Overall a good first night's sleep was had by all. The following day was colder, but sunny. We started with low ropes. Do not be deceived! The children on the ropes have their eyes closed and are relying on the rest of the class to guide them and catch them if necessary. A massive step forward in trust amongst the class. This was followed by the zip line, lunch, aeroball and finally abseiling. All these tasks took a massive amount of courage for some children. The following day was an early start as we needed to pack up and move out of our rooms. Unfortunately the weather was less kind, especially for Jacob's ladder, which was a challenge in the rain and wind. We finished our time with archery.

I am so proud of all the class, who showed determination to overcome fears, kindness with supporting each other and for some managing to be away from home for the first time. The photos are just a small sample of the many photos we took. My thanks to Mrs Lee, Mr McClimont and Mr Reed for all their support and help in making this a successful trip.

- Mrs McClimont

Click here to view the photographs

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