Surrounded by woodland, just west of Chichester, stands the majestic Oakwood House. This gorgeous 19th-century manor house is a thriving hub of enthusiastic teachers who provide hands-on learning and a wealth of extracurricular activities. This is Oakwood School.
Oakwood School provides children aged 2 to 11 with extensive facilities including an indoor swimming pool, tennis courts, gymnasium, theatre, library and dining room. The school has a family atmosphere, with a strong sense of community that encourages individual students to develop their unique personalities. The passions and strengths of each child are discovered and nurtured with the schools excellent academic and extra-curricular activities.
This is well reflected in the most recent Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), stating that pupils reach above-average attainments in English and Mathematics, as “pupils of all ages are enthusiastic and focussed learners who are able to work independently and think for themselves.”
The pupil’s ability to think and work independently ties in with the school’s encouragement to discuss important and thought-provoking topics in a hands-on way. One such event is anti-bullying week in November, teaching the importance of inclusivity and friendship, in the hopes that pupils will hold onto these values throughout their whole lives. According to the ISI 2020 compliance inspection, all moral, educational and welfare needs of pupils are met, alongside the suitability of the staff.
November is also a thought- provoking time for Britain nationwide as Remembrance Day comes on the 11th. Year 6 pupils take on part of the responsibility to educate younger students about the day, as they lead a whole-school Friday Assembly about Remembrance Day. This ties in with the older Prep School pupils embarking on a Remembrance Walk to Sennicotts Church.
This active education engages pupils in important topics which encourage discussion as well as independent thought. Furthermore, the walk to Sennicotts Church reflects Oakwood’s rich history, as Sunday services were held here when the school was a boarding school for young boys, as the various Oakwood alumni around Chichester will remember.
It is events and teaching such as these that lead to the ISI’s statement that “Pupils have a strong sense of belonging to the school community and are happy to take on responsibility.”
“Pupils value the opportunities offered by the outdoor environment and make the most of it.” – ISI Report 2017
Oakwood’s staff take pride in the school’s place in The Good Schools Guide, which approached the school in 2019. The Guide says there is “An art room full of warm colour and joy: creations fly from the ceilings, a wall is covered in sunflower paintings, and bright papier-mâché elephants pose at the far end.”
The Good Schools Guide also commended Oakwood for having a pupil-lead school council, saying “They reel off lists of people they could talk to about problems, from own friends to at least five different adults.”
Outside the classroom “pupils are highly successful in their extra- curricular pursuits, especially sport, music and art,” states the most recent ISI report. Oakwood pupils prepare for Friday Assembly presentations to the whole school and parents, with each class leading an assembly twice a year. This allows children to build up their confidence with public speaking and performance in a range of ways, as pupils can also showcase their musical endeavours as well as present match reports from sports games earlier in the week.
The Good Schools Guide also mentioned the school’s sporting success, saying “The gym is a painted a warm yellow [which] makes the thought of inside exercise immediately more appealing.” This is mirrored by Prep School children taking part in games and tournaments for netball, football, rugby and rounders throughout West Sussex and Hampshire.
The school also competes in nationwide competitions with its four thriving choirs (Pre-Prep, Junior, Senior and Boys Choirs). Each year the choirs sing at Chichester Christmas Lights Turn On. Aside from during lockdowns, Oakwood’s choir have regularly sung carols at St Wilfred’s Hospice, one of Chichester’s largest independent charities which has provided care in the community for over 30 years.
The pandemic has not halted Oakwood’s charitable nature, having raised over £6,000 for the school’s two chosen charities last academic year, with The Sussex Snowdrop Trust and Sense both receiving over £3,000. This academic year, Oakwood’s fundraising will go towards Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and The Riding for the Disabled Association. The former trains hearing dogs to assist deaf and hard of hearing individuals across the UK, whilst the latter connects over 25,000 disabled children and adults with stables, giving them quality time spent tending to or riding horses. Fundraisers this year include the sponsored ‘readathon’ that pupils are taking part in, as well as Oakwood’s Christmas Jumper Day when each student and staff member wears their most festive jumper, with a small cost of £1… and some embarrassment! The festive fun doesn’t end there for Oakwood, though. The school’s Christmas Fair is an annual highlight for staff, pupils and parents, as is the Year 5 pantomime and the Pre-Prep’s nativity play.
Oakwood’s broad curriculum, cross-curricular programme and supportive staff offer children a safe environment to challenge themselves and strengthen their skills. You can find Oakwood just off the B2178 between Chichester and Funtington, and can book an appointment to view the school and see it for yourself.