My Favourites

My Favourites

Save your favourites with a single click and you’ll never forget a brilliant Muddy recommendation.


Get the inside line on what’s unique, special and new near you, straight to your inbox across 28 counties


Kingham Hill School, North Oxon

An idyllically placed co-ed, non-selective secondary school with a Christian ethos and strong academic results, set in 100 acres of Cotswolds countryside.


Kingham Hill School in Kingham near Chipping Norton is an idyllically placed co-ed day and boarding school with a strong Christian ethos, a couple of miles outside Chipping Norton in North Oxfordshire. Driving up the sweeping drive is kind of like entering a village in its own right with pretty Cotswold houses around the various greens – it has the slightly unreal, cinematic feel of a Richard Curtis movie (just add snow and Hugh Grant).

There, 346 kids from 11-18 years roam in 100 acres (yes, you read that right) of handsome stone Victorian buildings, playing fields and woodland. The school welcomes children of all abilities into classes that average 15, so your child will get plenty of attention here.



Clearly there’s oodles of space, but there’s also a cricket square, pavilion and nets, tennis courts, floodlit Astroturf pitches, a fantastic pool, fitness suite, dance and drama studio, and last (but not least!) a farm.

Newish investments have been a fabulous library to the tune of £1.5m opened in July ‘16 and a £4m Maths and Science building that opened the previous year.  The big new calling card is a £6.2m brand new Sports Hall (below), officially opened in Jan 2020. It’s huge and includes a climbing wall, squash court, changing rooms and a whizzy viewing platform. The old sports hall has recently been converted into a 150 seater performing arts centre with all the bells and whistles you’d expect. In short, you’re not going to grumble about facilities here.

The final thing on the new build menu is an Upper Sixth House – a dedicated space for that crucial interim year between leaving school and starting university. Not currently past the planning stage but I’ll keep you posted.



Kingham Hill once had a reputation for average-at-best academic results, but Nick Seward’s headship over the last 12 years has seen teaching standards and exam results hoiked high, despite a proudly non-academically selective admissions process – in 2018 Kingham Hill was the highest ranked school in Oxfordshire for Sixth Form academic qualifications performance, and has been in the top 3% of Sixth Forms nationally for the last four years.     

A level results for 2021 saw 80% of grades at A*-A and with 46% at A*. Great results by anyone’s standards. GSCE results included 61% 9-7 (A*-A). So anyone worried that Kingham Hill’s non-academic admissions policy affects teaching quality should relax.


A cohort of 346 is always going to be a challenge with sports teams, but Kingham Hill takes sport seriously, both competitively and as a learning process. A new initiative last year has seen rugby become compulsory for all boys as lessons in team building and leadership – though relax helicopter parents, if they’re more goggle-glasses than brick-house, they can choose touch rugby instead.

Girls’ sport in particular has been giving a big boost in the last few years – hockey is the headline sport for them with specialist coaches drafted in and cool incentives like the Barcelona hockey tour. Aside from the headline sports, kids can take part in the likes of zumba, cross-country, mountain biking,  climbing, swimming and tennis.


I was introduced to six Sixth Formers to have a chat about their school life. But to get to the dirt I had to firstly boot out the teachers from the room. Except it turns out there’s no dirt at all bar the occasional complaint about computer use being denied after 10pm. The kids here seem genuinely happy and well-balanced – they all went on about kindness and community, which is a clear cascade from the headteacher and also the overt Christian ethos of the school.

There seem to be real efforts to help Sixth Formers prepare for the real world with ‘business wear’ as the own-clothes uniform, special dinners where the Sixth Form choose and budget the menu, and a Sixth Form bar where the kids can go for a sensible drink (just the one!) on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with the teachers or headmaster serving behind the bar.

Several new subjects have been added to the Sixth Form curriculum for 2022 including A level Psychology and BTECs in Engineering, Computer Science and Music Technology.


There are 7 boarding houses, and they’re all small in terms of numbers – the school prides itself as being very family-oriented, and pastoral care is one of Kingham Hill’s calling cards. They’ve decreased the number of pupils per house (25 to 35 max in each house) and increased the adult support, with each boarding house having two house parents, three tutors and a rolling internship scheme for recent graduates acting as role models before going on to PGCE.  So that’s six adults to each boarding house – not much chance of your child slipping through the cracks.

The boarding houses are in the main lovely stone cottages, though be prepared that they’re not particularly flash inside. Shiny leather sofas, wood-effect beds in rooms, table football and the like. Each house has its own private garden.


I like Nick Seward a lot. Very smart and self-deprecating and witty and now with added beard since I last met him, he has real academic pedigree, having come from Magdalen School in Oxford, he’s been in the hot seat here for almost 12 years and during that time has overseen the investment in the library, science block and sports hall, acted as Grim Reaper to the teaching old-guard, developed an ambitious plan for more new development and knocked off Saturday school, (not wanting children to ‘flog through another six lessons’ when they should be relaxing after a busy week).

Interestingly he’s not a fan of AS Tracking (technology that identifies kids who might not be happy or thriving) nor the idea of the ‘progressive’ child-centered learning – he believes teachers should be seen as the experts, and stand up and teach, not discuss for hours. I have some sympathy with that view actually and I’ll leave you to debate at leisure!


Oooh, quite a few I’m pleased to say! Clearly the Sixth Form bar, with the headmaster as landlord is a master-stroke for starters. But Kingham Hill is the only British school in the UK that also has a US State Department Program running at the school, with 10-15% of US students at the school at any one time. It’s ostensibly so that US pupils can study in the UK whilst meeting US educational requirements, but the upshot is that the British students can study elements of the US curriculum too.

Farm club is a huge hit where pupils can spend time with Alpacas, ponies, pigs, sheep, rabbits and even guinea pigs.

There’s a Combined Cadet Force that is compulsory for all children in Y9 where they undertake basic training, such as drill, command tasks, weapon training, fieldcraft and map reading. Then there’s Tucker, a tuk-tuk that delivers tuck shop goodies to the pupils and is used for refreshments at sports matches – tea, sandwiches, cakes even the occasional glass of Pimms. Now that’s genius.

You want more? Well, Nick Seward’s obsession with motor-racing has taken hold with a school motorsport team. There’s a fleet of 10 karts, and twelve times a year he takes a team around the country in National School Karting Association races. Yes, apparently it’s a thing.

And finally – arguably most importantly – Kingham Hill School has a charitable aim of offering places for 12 vulnerable children per year – last year’s head boy and rugby first XV player, previously homeless and living on the street as a child, was in the papers recently as a poster-boy for the scheme.



The school day starts at 08.30am and children can stay for after school activities until 5pm, although parents can drop children off at the day houses from 8am and they can stay on site to do their prep until 6pm, free of charge.


Fees per term are £6175 rising to £7,030 for day pupils and £8,745 – £10,800 for weekly boarding (Sun night to Fri morning). Full boarding starts at £9,025 rising to £11,850. Day pupils and weekly boarders can stay over ad-hoc for £50 per night. Music and dance/speech/drama lessons are extra, with the exception of Y7 & 8 both of which receive free music lessons.


The deadline to apply for scholarships for Year 7 and Year 9 entry has now closed. For Sixth Form entry the deadline is Monday 10th January 2022.


Happy parents at this very inclusive, non-hot-housey school. The head is popular and the parents I talked to dismissed the idea of Kingham not being academic enough and it’s easy to see why – 100% headed off to their chosen unis, in 2021 to Birmingham, Bristol, Exeter, London School of Economics, Queen Mary, Warwick, and York. I hear Kingham is also popular with city families relocating to the Cotswolds (it doesn’t hurt that Daylesford Organic Farm and Soho Farmhouse are neighbours).


Good for: Parents who are looking for a pastorally strong, all-round education for their kids. The school is small in numbers so children are known and cared for well and there’s a pervading ethos of kindness and consideration that is genuine and, I’d say, unusual.  There are good travel connections – Kingham station is only 3 miles away and links straight to Paddington in just over an hour – it’s about 30 minutes to Oxford too. Gazillions of bus options locally too. There’s excellent dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia provision here if your child needs some extra help.

Not for: The Christian ethos is strong, so you’ll have to accept that aspect of the school to go. Being in a gorgeous 100 acre site in the Cotswolds, there’s a slight Kingham Hill ‘bubble’ that’s more rural idyll than real life, though I’d also say large efforts are being made to step past the movie set campus into the real world too.

Dare to disagree? Be my guest! The next Open Days are on 7 May and 11 June 2022. Register to attend here.

Kingham Hill School, Kingham, Oxon, OX7 6TH. Tel:01608 658999.

12 comments on “Kingham Hill School, North Oxon”

  • Anastasia Ashton March 2, 2021

    We are so thankful to Kingham Hill school for all that it has done for our son. We moved back to the UK from the US in August of 2020. In just six short months since our son started at Kingham he has gained so much in confidence both personally and academically. He loves the sense of community and he was made to feel welcome from the minute he arrived. The teachers are genuinely invested in the children and make their classes engaging. Our son who prior to Kingham never showed any particular interest in his schoolwork will now animatedly discuss all manner of issues that were raised in his various classes and has received multiple commendations over the months which have helped boost his confidence enormously. Would unreservedly recommend the school to anyone who is looking for a nurturing yet intellectually stimulating environment for their child.

  • Ethan Cheng January 14, 2021

    my son is about to attend Kingham Hill School, want to know the overall views and comments especially from childrens parent already studying in the school.

  • Robert C P HACKETT January 1, 2020

    Kingham Hill School is not only exceptional, particularly now, but genuinely caring. As the son of clergy I was lucky enough to be sent there.Without Kingham and the astonishing acts of kindness I received ( such as German lessons taught Sunday a.m. before Chapel to a group of just three ) and individual French tuition by Rodney Chapman and Bettine Snell respectively. I subsequently read Modern Languages at University. I might add that my brother also was granted a place there and subsequently went on to Oxford and thence to the US. I cannot even begin to repay the debt I and my family owe to this school.

  • Charlotte Meakin April 28, 2019

    As a former pupil, I couldn’t have asked for a more rounded, special and valuable education. Since leaving Kingham, I have achieved more than I could’ve wished for and I am thankful to my education at Kingham for that. Kingham will always hold a special place in my heart.

  • Linda Read April 10, 2019

    My father attended your school as a young man in 1915. His name was George William Tanner. My sister and I remember coming in the summer holidays and swimming there and watching cricket. Happy days. Is there any record of our dad and his brother John I wonder. John was the groundsman and head gardener for many years after he left as found his love of horticulture. He also kept the plantation copied I remember. Dr Linda Read (nee Tanner)

    • Nanci Austin April 28, 2019

      Hi Linda, we’d love to help you find out more about your father and his time at KHS. Could you please get in touch with me through the development office at the School? Hope to speak soon.

  • Hanna February 3, 2018

    As one of the exchange student students coming to Kingham for a term in the 10th grade I feel extremely blessed to have this experience in my life. Coming to Kingham my English was close to zero and self confidence did not even exist. Kingham made me a stronger, more independent women who happend to fall in love with netball and all the quirks of Britain. Altrogh being a former student of a German boarding school as well I find myself talking about Kingham when it comes to “the good old times”. Sadly our time has been before internet etc and it turned out quite hard to stay in touch with my Kingham folks. I hope to talke part in some alumni festivities in the future (pls invite the Torgelow kinds 😀 ). I am now a C2 level English speaker and student at a top English speaking university thanks to my time at Kingham.

  • Tim Lofts February 2, 2018

    As (yet another!) ex-pupil, I can but endorse the other comments already made. I most certainly would not have become the person I am without the influence of Kingham Hill.
    The most staggering thing to me is that, 50 years on, it has somehow managed to retain its core ethos of ‘care of the whole person’ rather than simply chasing academic measures.

  • Keith F Targett April 26, 2017

    A comprehensive, accurate and excellent description of an exceptional school.

  • David Nock April 26, 2017

    I went to Kingham in the ’70’s and loved it’s idiosyncrasies, it made me.
    My son is there now and flourishing in the class room as well as on the sports field. They work in a very collaborative way and get the most out of pupils by treating them as grown ups, instilling into them modern day drive and ambition coupled with established ethics and care. It seems to be doing the trick!

  • Bekki Oribello January 11, 2017

    Kingham Hill is an amazing school. My American children went there while my husband was stationed in England with the USAF. Many of the students were Americans from the AF base. They have a great American Studies program that these kids attended and many were able to Graduate from Kingham with a US diploma along with their GCSEs. My son included. Most of the teachers and staff have a great heart for their students, and will do whatever necessary to make even the most difficult kids have a good experience there. When we first started at KH, Mr. Seward was fairly new, and he had a 10 year plan in place that promised to make the school into the best in the country. 9 years in, he has done just that! I appreciate everything that my boys got out of Kingham Hill, and I have no doubt that anyone who chooses to send their kids there will feel the same way!

  • Keith F Targett January 6, 2017

    As a former pupil, father of a former pupil, brother to three other former pupils and – now retired Kingham governor of 16 years standing an incredibly accurate portrayal of a very special school. Thank you.


Tell us what you think

Your email address will not be published.

* Required
* Required

Little Black Book

The Little Black Book

Our A-Z of the grooviest local businesses to help make your life easier

View the businesses
Reader Treats Just For You!