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Headington history: Schools

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St Joseph’s School


St Joseph’s School

St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Primary School in Headley Way (above) started life in St Clement’s Street and under a different name.

St Ignatius’s Roman Catholic School opened in St Clement’s in 1869 as a small school just for girls and infants in St Ignatius’s Roman Catholic Chapel, which was built in 1793 and is next to the Port Mahon pub, set well back from the road.

St Ignatius’s Chapel

Above: St Ignatius's Chapel today.
Below: A postcard of the chapel photographed by Henry Taunt l in c.1905

St Ignatius's Chapel

In 1909 a new school (below), designed to house 200 girls and infants, was built to the left of the old chapel, which continued to be used as a schoolroom.

St Ignatius, 1909 buildingAbove: St Ignatius's 1909 building on the left,
and the late eighteenth-century Roman Catholic Chapel on the right

In 1932 St Ignatius’s School was renamed St Joseph’s Roman Catholic School, but at first it remained in St Clement’s, and was now a junior mixed and infant school (admitting boys over the age of seven for the first time). From 1932 until St Edmund Campion School opened in 1958 it also had a senior department (which also took the seniors from St Aloysius’s School).

By the 1960s, St Joseph’s Roman Catholic School in St Clement's became rather dilapidated: there were only outside toilets, the playground was so small than the 260 children had to take turns to play, and the traffic in St Clement’s was a problem.

In September 1968 St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Primary School opened in the present buildings in Headley Way, Headington, with seven classrooms, a swimming pool, and a hall/gymnasium. The new school cost £85,000.

In 1975, when Oxford adopted a three-tier system of education, it became St Joseph’s Roman Catholic First School for children aged 5 to 9.

When Oxford reverted to a two-tier system of education in September 2003, it once again became St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Primary School for children aged 5 to 11.


The former Roman Catholic Chapel in St Clement's is a Grade II listed building (List Entry No. 1047165) and is currently occupied by offices.

Henry Taunt’s photographs (1906) from English Heritage:

© Stephanie Jenkins

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