Henry Box School

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The Henry Box School
Henry Box Logo.jpg
Motto Studio Floremus
translated as "By study we flourish"
Established 1660
Type Academy
Acting Headteacher Mr SJ Pritchard
Founder Henry Box
Location Church Green
OX28 4AX
Coordinates: 51°47′33″N 1°28′16″W / 51.792422°N 1.471052°W / 51.792422; -1.471052
Local authority Oxfordshire
DfE number 931/4050
DfE URN 138210 Tables
Ofsted Reports
Students 1351
Gender Coeducational
Ages 11–18
Houses Redgrave, Nightingale, Churchill, Newton
Colours Yellow, White, Green, Blue
Former name Witney Grammar School
Website HBS

The Henry Box School is a secondary school with academy status located in Witney in Oxfordshire, England. The school has a catchment area of the town of Witney and many surrounding villages such as Ducklington, Aston and Bampton. It has approximately 1400 students,[1] aged 11–18. The Latin motto of the Henry Box School is Studio Floremus, which can be translated as 'By study we flourish'. In the school's most recent inspection (June 2013), Ofsted judged the school to be "good".[2] [3]



The site was purchased in 1660 by grocer Henry Box, who intended to endow a school in his hometown after becoming a successful businessman in London. The schoolhouse (still surviving, and now a Grade II* listed building[4]) was completed before his death in 1662, after which his wife, Mary Box, completed the project using money left in his will.[5] In honour of the school's foundation, Oriel College, Oxford, of which Henry Box was a student, and The Worshipful Company of Grocers, of which Henry Box was elected Master, continue to sponsor one member of the school's governing body each.[6]

Grammar School 1660–1900[edit]

The original 1660 school building

In the 17th and 18th century, Witney Grammar School grounded the sons of merchants, manufacturers and minor gentry in classical curriculum, including Latin, Greek and Hebrew in preparation for entry to university. Students generally paid fees, but there were also thirty school places free of charge; preference was given to descendants of the Box family and the poor for these places. The staff included a Master, Writing Master and Usher.[7] The school had boarding facilities, a school room and accommodation for the Master and Usher, all contained within the Box Building.[8]

In the 1870s and 80s the school began to change its structure, becoming a "middle-class" or "second-grade" school to cater for boys without university aspirations. The staff included two resident assistant masters, a visiting drill master, and a resident female music teacher; subjects offered included English, French, Latin, arithmetic, natural science, drawing, singing, and bookkeeping. These subjects were intended to attract more children of professional tradesmen and farmers, therefore increasing the number of pupils at the school.[9]

Grammar School 1900–69[edit]

In 1901 the local Holloway's Bluecoat School was closed and its pupils and endowments transferred to the Witney Grammar School. Girls were first admitted to the school in 1912 when there were 43 pupils in total.[10] The school had a large playing field, cricket square, football pitch and tennis courts. [11] In the early 1960s it had 350 boys and girls, and was known as The Witney Grammar School, Witney.

In 1960, the school celebrated its tercentenary and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother visited as part of the celebrations, opening new buildings and attending a garden party.[12]


It was converted to a state comprehensive school in 1968 after the tripartite system was abolished and was eventually renamed after its founder Henry Box. By the 1990s it had around 1,000 pupils. The school was granted Specialist College status in September 2001 for Modern Foreign Languages and was the first school in Oxfordshire to gain a second specialism, that of Science and Maths, in 2006.

Mrs Nicola Edmondson was the school's first female head teacher, joining in 2007.[13]

The Henry Box School plays an annual football game against the Abingdon and Witney College in memory of former student Kevin Mott.[14]

350th anniversary celebrations[edit]

In 2010 the school celebrated its 350th anniversary. A book, entitled The Henry Box School — Its Place in History by Dr Jane Cavell, was commissioned by the school and sold at Waterstones. Commemorative stained glass windows were also unveiled as part of the celebrations.[15] The school also launched its house system, with the four houses named after notable figures from each century of the school's history.[16]

Academy status[edit]

The school became an academy on 1 June 2012.[17] It is now a part of the Mill Academy, a multi-academy trust along with Queen Emma’s Primary School and Finstock C of E Primary School. [18]

Academic performance[edit]

In 2004 the school was one of 67 schools recognised nationwide by the DfES for its academic record through assessing value added statistics, improved performance and high grade pass rates.[19]

In 2013, 64% of students achieved 5 good GCSEs or equivalent and 25% of students achieved the English Baccalaureate. 94% of students passed 5 GCSEs,[20] and 26 students gained 8 or more A/A* grades. These were the school's best GCSE results to date.[21] At A level, 25% of grades were A/A* and 16 students achieved 3 or more A/A* grades.[22]

In 2014, Henry Box School achieved its highest ever GCSE results for a second successive year. 65% of students achieved 5 A*-C grades including English and Maths. 18% of grades awarded were A* or A, and 27% of students achieved the English Baccalaureate. A level grades were also good, with 26% of grades at A*-A, and 53% A*-B.[23]

In 2016, 65% of pupils achieved A*-C in English and Maths GCSEs.[24] 27% of A level grades awarded were A*/A[25], and 14.4% of sixth form pupils achieved AAB or above including 2 facilitating subjects, below the national average of 17%.[26]


Subjects offered include: Art and Design, Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Childcare, Classical Civilisation, Drama, Economics, English Language, English Literature, Food Technology, French, Geography, German, Graphics, History, ICT, Mathematics, Music, Physics, Psychology, Spanish, Religious Studies, Resistant Materials, Sociology, Systems and Control and Textiles.[27]



The Henry Box School has a sports hall and gym used for physical education lessons and after-school sports activities such as badminton, rounders, cricket and basketball. For some PE lessons students go off-site to use the Leys or Witney Artificial Turf Pitch. The school's extra-curricular sports teams include cricket, badminton, football, hockey, netball, rugby and basketball,[28] and the department organizes international sports tours such as the 2011 Sri Lanka and 2009 Portugal tours.

In addition to this, several students currently represent Great Britain and England in sports ranging from golf to equestrian to baseball.[29]

The school's under-14 and under-16 boys' badminton teams won the Centre Parcs County Championships in 2013 and went on to represent Oxfordshire at the University of Surrey for the South East National Schools Championships, the first time a school has won both regional age group competitions.[30]

In April 2014 the school won the Oxfordshire Under-16 Football Cup, after beating local rivals Wood Green in the final at Carterton Football Club.[31]


The Henry Box School has 11 science laboratories.


The school has a library, also known as the Learning Resources Centre. Students take part in the Kids' Lit Quiz[32] annually and the school also hosts author visits such as Chris Bradford and Andy Briggs.[33]

The Arts[edit]

The school puts on drama and musical productions throughout the year; for example, Jesus Christ Superstar in April 2013[34] and Annie in April 2011.[35]

The school's new music block, including a recording studio and sound-proof practice and teaching rooms, was opened on 26 November 2010 by David Cameron, Prime Minister. To celebrate the opening of the music block, students recorded a cover of Take That's Greatest Day which was then uploaded onto YouTube.[36] The members or 100 Bullets Back also met at this school.

Sixth form[edit]

The Henry Box School has a large and successful sixth form, from which the majority of students go on to higher education including the most competitive universities such as Oxford and Cambridge.[37][38] The sixth form is part of the Witney Consortium, which allows students to study some subjects at Wood Green School or Abingdon and Witney College.

Admission to the sixth form is conditional on gaining an average of 42 GCSE points overall, including a C grade in English Language and B in the subjects to be studied at A Level.[39]

Wider opportunities and activities in the sixth form include the Sixth Form Council, Prefects, Young Enterprise Scheme, Community Service and Leavers' Prom. The Sixth Form Variety Show is an annual event which is produced and performed entirely by students.[40][41]

The Sixth Form Block includes a general common room, two quiet study rooms for private study, a kitchen and a fully networked computer room for exclusive sixth-form use. A silent study area in the school library is also reserved for sixth-form students only.[42]

Notable alumni[edit]

Witney Grammar School[edit]


  1. ^ "School Info". Henry Box School. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "Ofsted - The Henry Box School". Ofsted. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  3. ^ "School Details The Henry Box School". Oxfordshire County Council. Oxfordshire County Council. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  4. ^ Historic England. "Henry Box School  (Grade II*) (1212271)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  5. ^ "The Henry Box School - History". Henry Box School. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  6. ^ "History". The Henry Box School. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  7. ^ "Witney Borough: Education". British History Online. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  8. ^ "Archive - Witney Grammar School". The Henry Box School. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  9. ^ "Witney Borough: Education". British History Online. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  10. ^ Rivett, Jen. "Henry Box Celebrates its 350th Birthday". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  11. ^ Hayes, Gerald (2013). Tales of a wanderer. Rothersthorpe: Paragon Publishing. pp. 53–55. ISBN 978-1-78222-156-2. 
  12. ^ Gott, Charles. "The New Book of Witney" (PDF). Retrieved 15 April 2017. 
  13. ^ Hughes, Tim. "School prepares for historic change". Oxford Times. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  14. ^ "Charity Begins At Home". blog post. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  15. ^ Rivett, Jen. "Henry Box celebrates its 350th Birthday". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  16. ^ "House System | The Henry Box School". www.henrybox.oxon.sch.uk. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  17. ^ "Ofsted School Inspection June 2013". Ofsted. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  18. ^ "Home". The Mill Academy. 2015. Retrieved 15 July 2016. 
  19. ^ "Why Join? Sixth Form". The Henry Box School. Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  20. ^ "Secondary school league tables". Department for Education. 8 May 2014. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  21. ^ "Henry Box School best ever results". The Henry Box School. 
  22. ^ "A level results 2013". The Henry Box School. 
  23. ^ "2014 Exam Results". The Henry Box School. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  24. ^ "The Henry Box School - GOV.UK". www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  25. ^ "Excellent A Level Results for 2016 | The Henry Box School". www.henrybox.oxon.sch.uk. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  26. ^ "The Henry Box School - GOV.UK". www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  27. ^ "Departments - Henry Box School". The Henry Box School. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  28. ^ "Fixture Results". The Henry Box School. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  29. ^ "Physical Education". The Henry Box School. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  30. ^ "BADMINTON: Henry Box double up". Oxford Mail. 1 March 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  31. ^ "SCHOOLS FOOTBALL: Henry Box capture cup in penalty shoot-out drama". Newspaper Article (online). Oxford Mail. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  32. ^ "Pupils dazzle quizmaster with book knowledge". Oxford Mail. 5 December 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  33. ^ "The Henry Box School - Author Visits". Henry Box School. 8 May 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  34. ^ "School stars shine in Jesus Christ Superstar". Witney Gazette. 3 April 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  35. ^ "Parents Newsletter" (PDF). Henry Box School. May 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  36. ^ "Greatest Day by The Henry Box School". YouTube. 7 September 2010. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  37. ^ "Why Join? Sixth Form". The Henry Box School. Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  38. ^ "Sixth Form Destinations". The Henry Box School. Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  39. ^ "Applications and Entry Requirements". The Henry Box School. Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  40. ^ "Wider Opportunities - Sixth Form". The Henry Box School. Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  41. ^ "Variety Show Trailer". YouTube video. TheHenryBoxSchool. Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  42. ^ "Accommodation and Facilities". The Henry Box School. Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  43. ^ "Hollywood hostage! Gugu Mbatha-Raw went to America by accident, now every time the British star of Touch tries to get home an A-lister offers her a job". Mail Online. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  44. ^ "Belle of the movie world enjoys visit to home town + Videos". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  45. ^ "BASKETBALL: Henry Box heroes net Oxon double". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 
  46. ^ Little, Reg (26 July 2012). "The boy did flaming well". Retrieved 15 July 2016. 
  47. ^ "Deputy head calls time on 30 years at same school". Oxford Mail. 11 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2016. 
  48. ^ Edwards, R. G. (1 January 1996). "Patrick Christopher Steptoe, C. B. E. 9 June 1913-22 March 1988". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 42: 435–452. 
  49. ^ "Marina Lewycka biography page". marinalewycka.com. Retrieved 24 March 2017. 

External links[edit]