parent comments, community survey 2022
“NCS is a wonderful school. We couldn't ask for a better and more nurturing education.”
“NCS is the best start that a young boy can have.”
“A very friendly and welcoming school, the best in Oxford. A close community, with strong friendships among boys and parents. Teachers very approachable and keen to address any concerns.”
“Our son loves the school, and we count ourselves extraordinarily blessed that we were able to place him there.”
“I essentially think that it is a perfect school. I like the ethos, the curriculum, the level of feedback and reports, the relationship between teachers and pupils, the way the boys care about each other, the fun they have.”
“We really appreciate the friendly atmosphere of the school, the range of extracurricular activities (so impressive given the size of the school) and the efforts made by the staff to keep all the boys happy and engaged.”
“I have nothing but praise for NCS. It caters to a range of academic abilities, has fantastic pastoral care, encourages the boys in their various strengths and I really feel like the teachers care and understand my son for who he is.”
“A superb education designed and lovingly implemented from a standpoint of really knowing and understanding the boys. There is such fantastic individual care and attention for the boys’ emotional, social and academic development.”
“My son appears to be in a happy environment and I can see he is learning and developing, so this is great – it is therefore pleasing that he can stay in a positive school environment for what will be the majority of his school career.”
“I appreciate the ethos of the school and the way all boys are encouraged, whatever their strengths or interests. The school provides an incredibly caring and supportive atmosphere and as a parent you are made to feel part of a close knit community. Interactions between boys across year groups is a real strength and the involvement of older boys with younger boys when they take on leadership roles.”
“It offers an excellent education to all boys, in all subjects. A very high standard of teaching, not only academically, but in all life areas. The boys become educated, well mannered, well-rounded young men by year 8. I could not wish for a better school.”
“It is a wonderful, well-run and friendly place with a palpable commitment to excellence.”
“It is an absolutely fantastic school and we feel lucky to be part of NCS.”
“We are very happy with NCS, especially the feeling of community, the size, the good atmosphere among the staff, its caring culture and the music.”
“Our son has been truly happy and is developing well under the careful guidance of his teachers. We have been very satisfied with NCS.”
“NCS is very nurturing and offers rich and varied development opportunities to pupils, especially in music. Practically perfect!”
“We would (and regularly do) wholeheartedly recommend NCS as a wonderful school - it somehow manages to combine academic excellence with a wide range of other interest and activities; all combined with a strong sense of community, and social and personal responsibility.”
“Keep doing what you're doing. One of the best decisions we've ever made sending our son here.”
“NCS provides the best learning environment for any school aged boy to study and grow in every way. It is truly a gem in Oxford.”
“We have been delighted with our son’s time at NCS and would recommend it without hesitation.”
“We love NCS! I couldn't be more delighted that we chose it for our son.”
“I cannot think of a better school for my son -- we feel very lucky to be part of this wonderful community.”
tatler schools guide reviews, 2013-24
“Dating back to 1379, NCS is one of the oldest continuously-functioning schools in the world – but fusty and overly traditional it is not. Besides an excellent reputation for music and academics, head Dr Matthew Jenkinson’s ‘youth, enthusiasm and willingness to challenge orthodox thinking’ has proven most attractive to parents. On his watch, the ancient prep has introduced weekly wellbeing lessons, unveiled a multi-million-pound development and replaced the CE with the progressive Pre-Senior Baccalaureate (for which topics include ‘liberalism versus authoritarianism’ and ‘Can science disprove the existence of God?’. Fun and games come in the form of Minecraft and Lego engineering clubs, trips to Sicily and France, and playing with Artemis the gecko.”
"According to one parent, ‘the sporty and the unconventional, the quirky and the rebel are all valued’ at NCS. Headmaster Dr Matthew Jenkinson (aka ‘Dr J’) is ‘passionately devoted to the school and has a wonderfully dry sense of humour’. On his watch, it achieves academic excellence – pupils move on to nearby publics such as Teddies and Magdalen College School – ‘without being ruthlessly selective or nastily sharp-elbowed’. Despite being founded in 1379, NCS is refreshingly progressive: it offers a Year 5 International Relations course and Wellbeing lessons; and there is no stigma surrounding the learning support [Inclusion] department. Though the standard is ‘staggering’, parents emphasise that this is not just a musical school – nor is it ‘gin and Jaguar’ territory."
"Despite being one of the oldest continually functioning schools in the world, New College School is decidedly modern with weekly wellbeing lessons, upcoming partnerships with schools in France and Sweden, and a multi-million-pound revamp of the school over the next few years. Boys do well and go on to Magdalen College School, Abingdon and Teddies, with others going further afield to the likes of Marlborough and Eton. Virtually all pupils play at least one instrument, a recent production of The Tempest was stand-out, and chess is popular. Parents praise head Dr Matthew Jenkinson as ‘very approachable and friendly’ and NCS’ motto ‘Manners Makyth Man’ still rings true today."
"‘What an extraordinary place, for all the right reasons,’ declared one recent visitor, who was mightily impressed by the school’s unique location and the lovely, strong community spirit that binds all the students together, from the very eldest to the youngest: Year 8 boys regularly help out in the PrePrep, and multiple students cite ‘connectivity’ as the most special thing about their school. The musical life here is vibrant – unsurprisingly, considering the school was founded in 1379 to provide choristers for the College chapel choir – and it is impossible not to get goosebumps while watching video clips of the music scholars’ concert. However, this is certainly not a prep for musical prodigies alone: sport, drama and art are all flourishing, as are the academics, with leavers heading to schools such as Eton, Abingdon and Winchester, more often than not with awards or scholarships under their belt."
"Starting your schooldays amid the golden splendour of Oxford University works wonders for academic ambition, according to parents, who are full of praise for this cosy day prep. The boys use the stellar facilities of New College, classes are deliberately small to ensure each pupil is properly supported by staff and choristers are an important part of the school, as is music in general: nearly every boy learns a musical instrument and 50 per cent learn two. A punchy percentage of boys leave with scholarships and all head to top seniors: mainly days such as MCS and Abingdon, but a few to Eton and Winchester, all with the ultimate ambition of attending a university as good as the one they grew up next to."
"'Everything about NCS is delightfully nonchalant,' reports a mother. 'There are no airs and graces.' ... Leavers launch off to Abingdon, Eton, Magdalen College School and Teddies, and 75 per cent are scholars. They really make the most of their special founding relationship with New College and its treasures - how many schools can claim to possess a unicorn horn (even if it is really a narwhal tusk)?".
"There is a family feel here ... These lucky boys get teaching from Oxford dons … Tradition is important, but iPads are being rolled out and their eco-shop sells recycled pencil cases and the intriguing ‘biodegradable rulers’."
"This place upholds its own tradition of excellence … Music is superb, as is the drama … [A] tight-knit and friendly place."
"The boys are quirky and bright ... and music really is the tops, led by the famous globe-trotting choristers. An excellent score sheet for sports teams this year ... against (bigger and meaner) local rivals."
"There's no divide between choristers and non-choristers, and most boys are musical maestros in some form. The university and school are cheek by jowl ... IT is top notch with 100 iPads dotted around and there are plans for their 3D printer to print a 3D printer."
"Sitting among the dreaming spires of Oxford, New College School entwines itself with the university ... This is a very small school and all the staff know their pupils well. 'The music is phenomenal,' according to one mum, and the music scholarships to both Eton and Winchester reflect this."
"A world-class school due to the quality of its teaching, music and creative programmes – all of which it achieves with curious, eager-to-learn boys … We watched top-drawer teachers at work, immediately alert to any inattentive pupils while keeping everyone perfectly on task … Parents eulogise about them … [Music] is really superb … Other schools flock here to learn from NCS … School’s moto - ‘manners makyth man’ (from William Wykeham, the founder) - was raised repeatedly by parents for being ‘not just a label but a guiding principle’ … Strong pastorally too - several parents praised the school’s immediate and in-depth response when issues had arisen … ‘Standards are very high, but they wouldn’t make anyone unwelcome,’ said one parent. ‘It’s a great place for a curious and sparky boy. We have been so lucky to be here.’ … A school that knows what makes boys tick and gives them, as one parent put it, an ‘academically rigorous and musically brilliant foundation to go off and do other things’."
"Parents summed up NCS as ‘inclusive’, ‘immensely kind’ and a ‘close-knit, family school’. They described the atmosphere as ‘supportive, not competitive’ and ‘hugely encouraging’. Staff are ‘very quick’ to respond to queries and problems are ‘solved very fast and at the right level’. Pastoral care is ‘excellent’, extending at times to parents as well as their children."
"Whenever I think about the odd alchemy – the combination of planning, tradition, flexibility, inflexibility and luck – that it takes to make a functional institution, I think of New College School. And I worry that institutions like that are less likely to exist in Britain now."
David Mitchell, Back Story (2013)
Information about New College School can also be found on the ISC (Independent Schools Council) website
“The quality of the pupils’ academic and other achievements is excellent.”
“The quality of the pupils’ personal development is excellent.”
Other highlights from the most recent inspection report include:
“Pupils’ linguistic, scientific and creative skills are outstanding …”
“Pupils are outstanding communicators …”
“Pupils achieve extremely high levels of success in a range of extra-curricular activities …”
“Pupils’ achievements in art, music, performance and sports are exceptional.”
“Pupils’ attitudes towards their learning are excellent …”
“Pupils are highly confident decision-makers …”
“Pupils demonstrate extremely high levels of spiritual awareness …”
“Pupils’ appreciation of diversity and equality is excellent.”
“Pupils’ knowledge, skills and understanding are extremely strong across the curriculum …”
“Pupils attain excellent levels of numeracy …”
“Pupils develop excellent ICT skills …”
“Pupils develop excellent study skills and are intellectually curious learners …”
“Pupils achieve outstanding success in a wide range of non-academic activities …”
“Pupils demonstrate exceptional attitudes to learning …”
“Pupils’ self-knowledge and self-esteem are outstanding …”
“Pupils display outstanding collaboration skills and strong social development …”
“Pupils’ understanding of how to stay safe is excellent …”
NCS was also found to be fully compliant in all of the relevant statutory areas.
Independent Schools Inspectorate Report 2022.
‘The school meets the standards in the schedule to the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014, and associated requirements, and no further action is required as a result of this inspection.’
Independent Schools Compliance Report 2017.