Oswestry School

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Oswestry School

We Learn not for School but for Life


Oswestry school has all the attractions of tradition and antiquity.  It was founded in 1407 as a boys’ school and expanded slowly during the early modern era.  It moved into its present distinguished stone main building and extensive grounds in 1776.  It has modernised recently.  Modern buildings have been added and girls were admitted in 1972.  Today the school continues to retain the best of its traditional values whilst adapting to the modern world under its motto “We learn not for school but for life”


You may well ask, where is Oswestry?  You are not alone.  Many British people would struggle to find it on a map.  Actually, Oswestry is a small, ancient but prosperous market town on the border between England and Wales.  Do not let that put you off.

In China, it is generally assumed that poor people live in small towns with poor schools while the rich live in large cities where all the best schools are.  In Britain, the opposite is true.  London is improving rapidly but in most provincial cities there is a lot of poverty and crime and schools are often poor.  Most of the best schools are in small towns and rural areas.

For a Chinese parent this has pluses and minuses.  Oswestry is a safe environment with none of the gangs or drugs that may threaten your child’s welfare in larger cities.  The town also has good rail and road links to London, Bristol and other centres of culture.  But bear in mind that transport in Britain is extremely expensive and Chinese food and Chinese translators are unlikely to be available in a small town.  Loneliness and culture shock can be an issue, although Oswestry school provides outstanding pastoral care.


Oswestry School has around 400 pupils aged from 4 to 18 taught in small classes.  Two thirds of the students are local British day pupils.  The remainder are boarders from more than 20 countries.  The latest inspection report states that the living conditions are excellent praises the school’s atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect.  However, it is noticeable that international students rarely feature in photographs on the school’s website and the vast majority of the teachers are white British.  If you want your child to learn British values this is a good place for them to do so.  Other schools take a more internationalist approach.

As befits its age Oswestry is a traditional school.  There are still more boys than girls, uniforms are compulsory and the school retains the traditions of a British boarding school with houses, prefects and supervised homework.  The school leaders place a strong emphasis on self-discipline, good manners, integrity and the development of leadership skills.  It works.  The main point of the inspectors’ report is that this is a happy school with a cohesive philosophy, supportive environment and strong relationships between staff and students.


The curriculum and teaching style represent the best of the British tradition.  This may well suit students from Hong Kong, who are familiar with British A Levels and will feel at home in Oswestry’s structured, formal classes.  Exam results are average for British private schools.  In other words, this school is not an academic hot house.  If you are determined to get your child into Oxford or Cambridge there are better options than Oswestry.  On the positive side, the school is very good at maximising the abilities of average pupils and has a dedicated EAL department to help international students adapt to studying in English.

Not all the teaching takes place in the classroom.  As usual in British private schools, sport, music, art and drama feature strongly and the inspectors grade the schools’ extra-curricular activities as “excellent.”  Activities which encourage the development of self-confidence, leadership and responsibility are particularly encouraged.  There is a tradition of adventure activities and a military cadet force.


There is no formal admission test and students can start at any age.  Entry is based on reports from previous schools and an interview.  The interviewers will be assessing your child’s ability to fit into the ethos of the school and benefit from it.  Most Chinese students will need coaching to show these qualities in a Skype interview in English, so plan ahead.  Entry is also subject to the usual British government visa requirements.


Name:                                     Oswestry School

Location:                                Oswestry, Shropshire, England

Date of foundation:                1407

Type:                                       Co-ed day and boarding school ages 4-18

Size:                                        400 pupils

Teaching style:                       Small classes, traditional, structured, formal

Extra-curricular activities:     strong; sport, art, music, drama, societies, adventure trips

Values:                                    British; tolerance, mutual respect, manners, integrity, self-discipline, leadership, responsibility

Should I apply?

If you want a good, all round, traditional British education in a supportive environment away from the dangers of big cities, then yes.

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