40 years at Burford School

burfordschoolOriginally opened in 1571, Burford School has seen many changes in its lifetime.  By the time the Wychwood Magazine was launched, Burford School had just passed its 400th anniversary. The original Grammar School at the bottom of the High Street in the town had become the Boarding House and the Day School was flourishing on its current site.

In 1998 the school saw in The National Curriculum.  Just over ten years later it became a school specialising in Science and Technology, and in 2012 it became an Academy.  Changes in the exam structure saw O-levels replaced by GCSEs, whilst A-levels remain with us.  

There have, of course, been changes in curriculum content.  ICT & Computer Studies now flourish, the Modern Foreign Languages Department supports the learning of three languages throughout the school and the Burford Institute of Music, established in 2014, expands its extensive programme of events and opportunities each year.  Kindles are a common sight in the Library but, happily, there is still a place for books.

The last forty years have seen many new buildings including a large new Maths and Languages block. The Wysdom Block, named after the school’s founder Simon Wysdom, was opened in July 2011 by the actor Robert Hardy and houses, amongst other things, an outstanding Drama Studio.  

In the seventies the school began to provide late buses for students – no longer the long walk home or the need to hitch-hike! The buses have given students the opportunity to explore a whole range of interests outside the official curriculum including sport, music, art and drama. 

With a rural history – and originally its own farm which closed in the 1980s – it was fitting that in July 2014 the school opened The Acre, an area where students can spend time learning about animal husbandry and rural skills, or just chilling out.  The opening was a day of celebration for staff and students attended by, amongst others, the then Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, and David Cameron MP. Since then, the Cotswold AONB have been regular visitors to the school, introducing a wide range of rural skills.

Burford has always had very close ties with the local community.  During the 1980s and 90s this was further enhanced by the provision of evening classes.  Since the Sports Hall was opened in 1992, local groups have enjoyed a wide range of sports activities during evenings and at weekends. In 2015 the annual cricket match against the MCC was combined with the launch of the school’s Alumni Association – the Old Burfordians – and the lovely thatched pavilion, generously refurbished by a legacy, provided the perfect backdrop.

Many readers of the Wychwood Magazine will have journeyed through the past 40 years, and more, with Burford School.  Next year the school will be celebrating its 450th anniversary.  We welcome any former students or staff to join us in our celebrations.  To keep in touch contact: alumni@burford.oxon.sch.uk

August – September 2020