Guide to Independent Schools

School details

Magdalen College School

Magdalen College School, Oxford OX4 1DZ

Enquiries & application

The Registrar

T:  01865 242191

Boys, Mixed sixth, Day. Boys 7-18, Girls 16-18.
Pupils: 838, Upper sixth 130
Fees: 4644 per term
Affiliation: HMC, CSA


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School details

Magdalen College School

What it's like

Founded in 1480 by William Waynflete as part of Magdalen College, it is located on a historic site in the heart of Oxford. Founded as a boys' school, girls have been part of the sixth form since 2010; pupils also include 16 Magdalen College choristers. Recent improvements include a new teaching block, an up-to-date ICT centre and a sports complex with squash courts, sports hall and floodlit tennis courts. The school provides excellent pastoral care and there is a commitment to help pupils succeed both within and outside of the classroom. Teaching is very good and academic results are correspondingly very high. Music, art and drama are all strong. Sports are taken seriously and standards are high with county champions in rugby and hockey, as well as national champions in sailing in recent years. Teams also regularly progress to regional stages of national competitions. A large number of extra-curricular activities are offered, including the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. All pupils are involved in either the CCF or community service for two years.

Pupils & entrance

Pupils: Age range 7-18; 838 day pupils (770 boys, 68 girls). Entrance: Main entry ages 7, 9, 11, 13 and 16. Own entrance exam used, plus interview and school report at all levels. Sixth-form entry is based on GCSE performance (grade A* in sixth-form subjects) and interview.

Scholarships & bursaries

Scholarships awarded at 11, 13 and 16 (academic, music, sport, art), value up to 300. Means-tested bursaries to parents on low incomes awarded at any age.

Head & staff

Master: Dr Tim Hands, in post from 2008. Educated at Emanuel School, King's College London and Oxford University. Previously Headmaster at Portsmouth Grammar School, Second Master at Whitgift and Housemaster at King's School, Canterbury. Has published several books on Thomas Hardy, religion, philosophy and culture. Teaching staff: 75 full time, 8 part time.

Exam results

GCSE: 94 pupils in fifth form, all gaining at least grade B in 10 subjects (including English, maths, a science, a humanity and a modern language). A-levels: 130 in upper sixth, passing an average of 3.6 subjects with a final point score of 507.

Pupils' destinations

100% of sixth form leavers go on to a degree course (38% to Oxbridge in 2011). 11% took courses in medicine, dentistry and veterinary science, 28% in science and engineering, 58% in humanities and social sciences.


GCSE, AS and A-levels. 19 subjects offered at A-level. Sixth form: Sixth formers typically take 4 subjects at AS-level, 3 at A-level. Also all lower sixth undertake a personal research project in the school's own extended project programme (Waynflete Studies). Languages: Latin, Greek, French, Spanish and German offered to GCSE and A-level. French, German and Spanish exchanges (to Munich and Madrid). ICT: Embedded in the curriculum. Computers for pupil use, all networked and with email and internet access.

The arts

Music: Most pupils learn a musical instrument; instrumental exams can be taken. Active tradition of music and extensive range of ensembles including 2 symphony orchestras, string orchestra, 3 choirs, madrigal society, close harmony group, 2 jazz bands, samba band, percussion ensemble, guitar ensembles and numerous chamber groups. A number of pupils are in junior departments of conservatoires and members of National Youth Orchestra, National Youth Choir and National Youth Musical Theatre. Regular organ and choral awards to Oxbridge. Choristers perform on radio, TV, film soundtracks as well as recordings and concert tours. Drama: Drama offered extensively. Many pupils are involved in school and house/other productions; some write and produce their own productions. Pupils have performed at the Oxford Playhouse, through a partnership arrangement with the school. Art and design: On average, 2535 take GCSE, 812 A-level. A range of media areas available eg film, animation, graphic design, photography, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, drawing and painting. Many pupils successful in competitions, eg the Saatchi Prize.

Sports & activities

Rugby, cricket and hockey are major sports; 15+ further options including athletics, badminton, rowing, judo, squash, climbing. National sailing champions recently; regional hockey finalists (various ages). county rugby champions (U14) and cricket champions (U12, U14). All pupils in either CCF or community service for 2 years . Over 60 clubs, including Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, archaeology, bridge, Christian Union, computing, general knowledge, natural history, politics, debating, stage, history, outdoor pursuits.

School life

Uniform: School uniform worn. Houses and prefects: Competitive houses. Head boy, prefects, appointed by the Master following votes by pupils and staff; head of house and house prefects appointed by housemaster. Religion: Church of England. Attendance at religious worship compulsory unless there are known religious objections. Voluntary weekly Eucharist. Roman Catholic prayers weekly. Social: Regular debates, lectures, plays with local girls' schools. Ski trips abroad. Pupils allowed to bring own bike to school. Meals self-service.


Pupils failing to produce homework once might expect to hand it in the following morning or detention in the afternoon; those caught bringing cannabis onto the premises would expect expulsion.

Association of former pupils

Old Waynfletes, run by the Development Office at the school

Former pupils

William Tyndale (translator of New Testament); St Thomas More; Noel Chavasse (sole winner of two VCs in Great War); Ivor Novello (composer, singer and actor); Sir Basil Blackwell (publisher); John Caird and Sam Mendes (theatre and film directors/producers); Nigel Starmer-Smith and Jim Rosenthal (sports commentators); Sir Tim Hunt (Nobel prize for medicine).