Headington history: Schools

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Headington Quarry School

Quarry School

From 1847 to 1864 many of the children of Headington Quarry would have attended Headington National (Church of England) School on the London Road; but after 1864 they were no longer allowed to do so, as on 22 September that year a separate school was opened in their own parish.

The Revd Samuel Waring Mangin, the Vicar of Holy Trinity Church in Quarry from 1858 to 1863, was instrumental in getting Headington Quarry National School built, but the incumbent when the school opened was the Revd William Robert Haverfield.

The site for the school was donated by the Revd. Dr. Plumptre, Master of University College, and the Revd. Dr. Cotton, Provost of Worcester College.

The original building consisted of a single schoolroom and was designed by James Brooks of Serle Street, London. It cost £420 to build: this sum came from grants from the National Society, the Diocesan Board of Education, the President and Fellows of Magdalen College, and the Congregation of St Matthias Church in Stoke Newington.

Initially the only support received by the Vicar of Quarry for the school was an annual grant of £10 from Betton's charity (which supported schools in England and Wales conducted on Church principles).

The school was opened by Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford, on Thursday 22 September 1854, and the following article appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 1 October 1864:

Opening of Quarry School

The Church Times of 1 October 1864 wrote that the school bore “testimony to the change which has taken place within the last twenty years, since the building of a church was first contemplated, in notoriously one of the most neglected and demoralized localities”.

After Forster's Education Act of 1870, National Schools were forced to accept Nonconformists. Hence in 1874 this single schoolroom was packed with 111 children, taught by one teacher, a pupil teacher, and two monitors.

In 1880 Mundella's Education Act made education compulsory for all children between the ages of five and ten, and once again the school became too small. In 1882 Frederick Codd designed a second schoolroom for 80 children (including a gallery for the under threes or “babies”) connected to the existing school by a covered passage. The following short report appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 14 October 1882:

At the New Schools, Headington Quarry, an additional schoolroom, 40ft. by 17ft., with passage for hats and coats, has been built of local stone with Bath stone dressing, to match the old work. The cost of the work is about 300l., and the builder Mr. J. Horn. The architect is Mr. Codd.

In 1893 the school-leaving age was raised to eleven, and a third room was built to accommodate 88 infants.

In 1900 education was made compulsory (with some exceptions) between the ages of five and fourteen. In 1905 Knowles & Son erected a further brick extension to the infants' school (report in Oxford Chronicle of 13 October 1905, p. 9).


Kelly's Directory for 1899 gives the number of children who were then in the two sections of the school:

  • National School (mixed), for 150 children; average attendance, 135; Alfred Henry Bickley, head master;
    Miss Shepherd, assistant mistress
  • Infants' School, for 100 children; average attendance, 90; Mrs. Evetts, head mist.

The map below dates from 1899 and shows Headington Quarry School to the north of Holy Trinity Church. To the north-west at the junction of Quarry High Street and Quarry Hollow are the Methodist Chapel and Sunday School. The building labelled Inn is the Chequers, and P.H. is the Six Bells. The letter W indicates where there were wells: it does not appear that the school had either a well or a pump.

1876 map of Quarry

In the year ending 31 March 1899 the Diocesan Inspector gave both Headington Quarry Mixed School and Infant School a very good report, which was published in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 17 June 1899:

JOJ 1899

After 1928

In 1928 Quarry School lost its senior section (comprised of children aged 11–14). At first Quarry children went on at the age of eleven to the new Headington Senior School (now the left-hand side of of St Andrew’s Primary School), but from 1936 they attended the new senior school in Margaret Road. Quarry School was now renamed Headington Quarry Church of England Junior Mixed School.

In 1975, when Oxford adopted a three-tier system of education, it became Headington Quarry Church of England First School for children aged 5 to 9.

Oxford reverted to a two-tier system of education in September 2003. It was proposed that this school would become an infant school for children aged 5 to 7; but numbers on the roll were so low that instead it closed in July 2003:

The building is now used by Headington Nursery School.

It is a Grade II listed building (List Entry 1099142)

Log books held at the Oxfordshire History Centre
  • Headington Quarry Infant School Log Book: 2 April 1892 to 28 February 1913 (S127/1/A2/1)
  • Headington Quarry Infant School Log Book: 27 March 1913 to 1 July 1964 (S127/1/A2/2)
  • Headington Quarry Mixed Junior School Log Book: 7 September 1910 to 9 April 1936 (S127/1/A2/3)
  • Headington Quarry Junior Mixed & Infants School Log Book 1 July 1964 to 20 July 1983 (S127/1/A2/4)
  • Headington Quarry First School Log Book: 6 September 1983 to 23 July 1993 (S127/1/A2/5)
  • Headington Quarry First School Log Book 6 September 1993 to 16 August 1997 ((S127/1/A2/6)

© Stephanie Jenkins

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