Planned Student Strike – Friday 24th May 2019

May 21st, 2019

Dear Parent/Carer

As many of you are aware, a number of our students took part in the student strikes earlier in March and February. The Oxford event was a success, a further strike will now take place on Friday 24 May 2019.  The strike focuses on climate change and this is inspired by international student protests that have taken place across Europe and the world.

I understand that this is an important issue for our young people. We have dedicated students who are passionate about our environment and who want to make a difference.

I also need to find a balance in regards to the potential impact on their education and learning. I would ask for your guidance for our students who are currently studying and sitting their final exams to prioritise their time wisely, during this busy and pressured time.

We required students to complete an application for the last strike. The quality of the responses received from our students were exceptional. Students who wish to attend the strike on Friday, will need to complete the following task. This must be submitted to me no later than 9.00am on Thursday 23rd May. Late applications will not be considered. Students must email their application to me at

It is essential that we all take responsibility to ensure that we minimise our impact on the environment. I would like you to take some time and consider the small things that we can all do, what is it that you will pledge on behalf of you and your family to reduce your carbon footprint and what we can do in school. Please answer the following questions:

  • What are the small changes that we can all make that could make a big difference when added together?
  • What do you pledge on behalf of you and your family to reduce your own carbon footprint?
  • What are the things that you believe we could do in school to reduce the impact that we make as an establishment?

In addition to the written application, I will also require permission from their parent/carer, again I ask that permission to be emailed to me on I am sorry but we cannot accept written notes as these are difficult to verify. This must be received by 9.00am on Thursday, I am afraid that late permission will be refused as we need to safeguard our students and have time to produce an accurate student registration list.

All other arrangements will be the same as last time, students will attend lesson 1 & 2 and they will be able to leave from 10.45am. The academy cannot take responsibility for your child after this point and you will have parental responsibility for your child on this day. We would strongly recommend that parent’s accompany/ “be available” for their children especially those who are in the younger age groups. Thank you in advance for your support.

Yours sincerely

Marianne Blake – Principal

Calendar Update

May 17th, 2019

Please note:
The school calendar has been updated with the following information:

Year 7-10 End of Year Assessments Monday 3rd -Friday 14th June 2019
Year 10 Mock Exams Monday 10th – Friday 17th June 2019

Summer Uniform Update

May 14th, 2019

Please see the attached letter regarding Summer uniform.

Summer Uniform May 2019

For any further uniform queries please see Uniform

OSA Speaks Out!

May 13th, 2019

The annual Spires House Public Speaking competition is a great event in the school calendar. 24 students from Years 7-10 represented their Houses to compete in the Junior and Senior competitions in the Theatre on Thursday 9 May – with an audience of other students, staff and parents.

The competition is, of course, part of the wider public speaking and debating life of the school. From Blenheim Palace’s public speaking, debating at New College to the Shakespeare Speaking in High Wycombe; from English Speaking Union competitions to the Mock Magistrates – many students have already taken part this year and have had training to develop their skills.

The next – and one of the most important – annual events is our Academy Trust’s Speak Out! Competition, this year on 10 July at Somerville College in Oxford. OSA’s House Public Speaking competition is a key part of selecting the school team for this event.

With topics ranging from whether the police should be armed, to the future for feminism, to climate change, as always students addressed some very important topics in their speeches. They spoke persuasively and showed a lot of research – often helped by House research and speech writing teams behind the scenes.

In the Junior Competition, the winning House was Seacole, with prizes going to their Chair (Eva Morris) and their Vote of Thanks (Skyla Woodhill). The winner of the best Speaker at this level was Zoha Asgher from Tolkien House.

In the Senior Competition, the main difference is that a speaker is hosted by another House and is questioned on their speech afterwards by the hosting Questioner and by the audience. The winning House this time was Earhart, with a prize going to their Chair (Summer Wells), who stepped into the position after a fellow student was ill on the day. She did brilliantly! The best Speaker at this level was Sami Asgher from Tolkien House and the best Questioner was Alex Dunn from Bannister.

The panel of judges, Dr Brian McMahon, Dr Jen Sugden and Dr James Marsden, all from Oxford University, were extremely impressed by the quality of the performances.

Congratulations to all of the students taking part. It’s not as easy thing to stand up and present so articulately and confidently to a large audience, and the standard was high this year. Miss Morris, Mr Archibald and Dr Watson will deliberate now on the team to represent Spires in July!

Humanities Projects

May 1st, 2019

Students in Year 7 have been presenting their humanities projects this week. They have explored a range of issues including the terrifying aspects of the Bubonic Plague and the reasons for the Peasants’ Revolt. Humanities classes were treated to a range of presentations on students’ chosen questions including video documentaries and puppet shows. The highest standards were set and we look forward to the next round of projects.


Abbie, Olivia and Gina presenting their group project.

End of term 4 Newsletter

April 5th, 2019

The end of term 5 newsletter is now available.

Newsletter April 2019

OSA’s Legal Eagles

April 1st, 2019

We took two teams to compete in one of the Oxford heats of the Mock Magistrate competition. In total 26 students from Years 7-10 took part. They put in huge amounts of work rehearsing twice a week from December to March and then giving up a Saturday morning to compete at the Oxford Magistrates Court.

We were delighted that Max was awarded the prize for best Legal Advisor and that Ruby and Imaan were jointly awarded the prize for best witness. In addition the Oak Team were announced as the overall winners and will now compete in the Regional Final at Reading Crown Court in May.

A huge thank you to everyone who took part, especially to Katie who kindly stepped in at the last minute and also to Mr Birch who provided huge support at all the rehearsals.

Our teams with Lord High Sherrif, Richard Venables, after the competition.

Year 9 Science Challenge

April 1st, 2019

Year 9 are a competitive group of students! Two Science groups had the chance to show this on Wednesday 27 March when Reading University came in to meet them…

Students at the University had designed a University Challenge format quiz – complete with buzzers, starter questions and picture rounds – to test Year 9 on their Science knowledge. It turned out that was rather good.

From identifying elements on the periodic table, to anatomy and physiology, to physical Geography – they weren’t thrown by much.

The two teams who came first and second on the afternoon are now invited to go along and compete on Finals Day at the University of Reading in May.

Women’s Education In Afghanistan

March 21st, 2019

Last Thursday, Merzia took part in a panel discussion at Somerville College, Oxford, on women’s education in Afghanistan – alongside leaders of Zorah, the Afghan Women’s Orchestra which has played to sell-out concerts in the UK this last week. Congratulations to Merzia – and to the young Afghan musicians whose playing was such a pleasure! We all enjoyed their concert at the packed Sheldonian Theatre on Saturday – and the poets presented their conductor with gifts, including a copy of England: Poems from a School to take back to Kabul!

OSA Poets Interviewed Online!

March 21st, 2019

Four Spires poets – Merzia, Timi, Halema and Ftoun – took part in the recent Orchestra of St John project and performed their work to specially composed music in Oxford, Dorchester Abbey and King’s Place, London. They were interviewed when they did the final concert by a group from SOAS (the School of Oriental and African Studies), part of the University of London, and this is now available for everyone to see on

Are You Ready For Parents’ Evening/Morning?

March 12th, 2019

Year 7, 8 and 9 Students Learn To Argue!

March 12th, 2019

I suspect many parents may feel that they can argue very well already, but our articulate and thoughtful debaters astonished their workshop leader from the English Speaking Union on Wednesday 6 March!

24 students from the younger years at Oxford Spires spent the whole day doing something usually done by Sixth Formers – and doing it brilliantly. They learned to form a cogent argument, to use body language effectively, to make incisive and confident Points of Information, to pick holes in other arguments, to provide evidence and examples – by the end they were unbeatable!

The afternoon debates ran smoothly and impressively with Katie, their workshop leader, commenting, ‘It was a great session! The students were fabulous and I really enjoyed my day at Spires.’ Our thanks to her for her lively and intelligent teaching.

Now we have to find more competitions for them to enter…

I pity the parents after this – arguments over the dinner table are going to be even tougher…

Student Strike – 15th March 2019

March 11th, 2019

Dear Parent/Carer

Please see the attached letter in regards to the planned student strike on Friday 15th March. I would like to support this issue but also need to balance the impact on the learning and education of all of our students. Please take time to read the letter and conditions of permission carefully.


Marianne Blake

Student Strike March 2019

Year 11 Step Up To University Choices

March 6th, 2019

36 students from Year 11 visited New College, Oxford, on Tuesday 5 March as part of their ongoing Step Up programme.

Invited to join a programme to prepare them to support high level university applications, students found out about different Oxford courses from current undergraduates and tutors, about entry requirements, gap years, and building personal statements.

During the day they also visited St Catherine’s College and Jesus College, for a better idea of how colleges vary.

They also discussed choosing A levels to help prepare for specific university courses – particularly relevant at the moment as, after their Spring mocks, students go on to Sixth Form interviews.

The programme continues into Year 12, as students have workshops and guidance on building independent reading, writing personal statements and so on.

Oxford Spires thanks staff and students at New College for their ongoing support of our able students!

House Dance – Tickets on sale now!

March 5th, 2019

Tickets are £3.00 and are available via Parentpay. Purchased tickets can be collected from Mrs Crook in the Red Zone

Year 10 Learn About Oxford University

March 4th, 2019

Ten Oxford Spires Year 10 students took part in a University of Oxford Pathways day, at Christ Church and Corpus Christi Colleges, on Friday 1 March.

Together with the group who went to Peterhouse, Cambridge, last half-term, these able young people have been learning about competitive university applications, student life, finance and all the extra-curricular activities you can take art in while studying for a degree.

Part of the school’s careers programme, helping students begin to think about their future choices, these visits sit alongside careers interviews, the Step Up programme starting in Year 11, INTO University workshops, visits to local colleges and employers and work with Study Higher. As an example of the sessions for particular year groups, Year 12 have a session after their mock exams on local apprenticeship schemes.

If a parent would like to speak to our careers advisors, they will be available on parents’ evening/morning each term, and you can book appointments as you can with teachers once the booking system goes live on Friday 15th March.

World Book Day – 7th March 2019

March 4th, 2019

We have an author (Inbali Iserles ) attending who will be doing a talk to Year 7 and to Year 8.

She will also be in the library at lunchtime doing book signings and selling copies of her books, the price of these books are £5.99 each.



ARTiculation Regional Finals

February 25th, 2019

ARTiculation regional finals were held in the Headley Lecture Theatre at the Ashmolean on Thursday 7th February. For this national public speaking competition students were required to speak for 10 minutes on an artist or artwork of their choice. Janier was up against students from very highly respected private boarding schools and held her own. Speaking eloquently about Paul Gauguin’s art work ‘Vision after the Sermon’, she had researched thoroughly and posed insightful questions to her audience.

We’re so proud of her hard work.


Latest Newsletter

February 15th, 2019

Our latest newsletter is now available.
Please download here: Newsletter February 2019

Planned Student Strike

February 12th, 2019

Dear Parents

Please see the important letter below regarding the planned student strike Friday 15th February 2019.

Student Strike Letter For Parents


Marianne Blake

London Dungeon Trip

February 11th, 2019

On a grey day in London town, the intrepid Year 9 historians were poised ready for their taste of experiential history.

The London Dungeon did not disappoint, as the students took in the sights and sounds of London through the ages. The performers feeding their minds with knowledge and a hint of fear. Through the periods of London’s past they explored methods of control such as torture and execution alongside popular historical events such as the plague, the Fire and the Ripper. After a few hours the students made it out safely, their understanding of crime and punishment increased and their experiences deepened. An enjoyable experience of learning for all.

Performance Tables for Sixth Form 2019

February 5th, 2019

Some of you will have noticed that last week that the 2019 Performance Tables were released. After our Sixth Form Open Evening on 24 January, I just wanted to comment on what they show about OSA.

The measures show OSA Sixth Form to be a good place to take A levels! They also show the school in relation to other local Sixth Forms – and show that we are a better choice than many.

These tables are based on individual progress – something our school values hugely. Our position in the middle of the table shows our Sixth Form students gaining what they call ‘average’ results nationally. This means that each student here (as at Cherwell and Wheatley Park, for instance, that fall into the same category) gains on average A level results that their GCSE results suggest they should do.

The decision to measure schools by Progress, rather than by the numbers of As, Bs, Cs etc. that a Sixth Form achieves, allows OSA to be successful and still an inclusive institution responsive to the needs of its community.

We are not a highly selective Sixth Form. We personalise learning for individuals and their ambitions, and wish to allow access to students who work hard but do not necessarily have a string of Grade 7s and above at GCSE. Some students at OSA, for example, might only have entered the UK quite recently – and their GCSE profile would be affected by that – but they still deserve the chance to pursue their ambitions.

As I said to parents at our packed Sixth Form Open Evening on 24 January, I have been Head of Sixth Form here now for 5 years, and the Sixth Form in that time has improved every year.

We have always had able students at the top who gained A/A* grades at A level, and this year all 3 of our Oxbridge applicants have offers. We do a huge amount of work with more able students as they reach GCSE and Sixth Form to make sure they have supercurricular profiles that impress and that they can move into competitive institutions and courses. One example is our medical support programme, which is properly up and running now that we have a number of Year 12 and 13 making such applications.

Our Sixth Form next year has increased the number of A levels it offers as the numbers entering from next year will be larger. Improvements in staffing and provision over the last 5 years are continuing and are moving things forward again. We are not satisfied with being ‘average’, and the young people from the larger year groups coming up will allow us to offer more, and to develop still further, to their advantage.

OSA Sixth Form teaching and learning allows all our students to thrive, supporting students who are disadvantaged yet hard working as well as those with high GCSE profiles – and I’m proud of that.

Thanks to all Year 11 who have already submitted their application forms for the deadline on 31 January* and who plan to be part of that success next year.

Dr J Watson
Head of Sixth Form

* Later applications will, of course, be considered, but we will prioritise for interviews in March those who applied by the deadline.

You can view the full chart here

Nuffield Research

February 5th, 2019

Year 12 science students had a visit from Julie Cattermole from the Nuffield Foundation on Monday, OSA students apply for, and undertake, Nuffield Research placements in the summer, after AS exams, usually involving lab work in professional research laboratories. It is really helpful to them to see how the theory they learn in class is applied in the real world of science – and an exciting opportunity.

The students find these placements hugely useful in university applications in Year 13.

Blenheim Champions start their 2019 Competition

February 5th, 2019

After OSA’s victory in the 2018 Churchill Public Speaking Competition, this year’s team and their accompanying researchers visited Blenheim Palace on Monday before this year’s.

Last year’s researchers, Flo and Max, and last year’s Chair, Ruby, all in Year 8, are joined now by three Year 7 students, Stella, Aqsa and Laura. They were taken on a tour of the Palace by education officer, Catherine Talbot, to learn more about the life of Winston Churchill and the history of the Palace.

The morning finished with a public speaking workshop – where they focused on making their speeches – on gender equality – more effective for those judging the competition in March.

House Dance – Postponed

February 5th, 2019

Dear Parents

As you know we have lost valuable rehearsal time for House Dance. Due to various exchange trips, it is proving difficult to reschedule rehearsal time for the students. To this end I have spoken with a number of Year 10  and Year 11 students who are involved in House Dance.  They have requested for the date to be moved. We are therefore moving the evening to Wednesday 13th March 2019, it cannot be sooner due to Yr 10 Work Experience and Year 11 Mock exams. Students, on the whole seem to be happy with this. 

I know changing the date is not desirable but it is important not to cause or create undue stress. 

We experienced problems with ticket sales yesterday on ParentPay and some parents were only able to purchase one ticket. This has now been rectified. Tickets are restricted to two per family.

House Dance Rehearsals planned for Saturday 9th February have also been cancelled. The new dates for House Dance rehearsals are 9th & 10th March 10am-4pm

Thank you in advance for your support. 

Kind regards
Jo Dunphy

House Dance Rehearsal – Sat 2nd February Cancelled

February 1st, 2019

Rehearsal for House Dance planned for tomorrow – Saturday 2nd February is cancelled.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

Year 10 Netball Tournament- Cancelled

February 1st, 2019

The Year 10 netball tournament scheduled for tomorrow at Marston is cancelled.

SCHOOL CLOSED TODAY 1st February-Update

February 1st, 2019

Dear Parents/Carers

For those that have not seen the message on the school’s website or earlier ParentMail, please take a moment to read the information below;

Snow Closure Day Friday 1 February 2019

The school will be closed to students today due to the condition of the roads and safety within and around our school site.

The safety of students and staff is our priority in circumstances like this and we have therefore taken the decision to close today. Thank you to you all for your support and your understanding.

Best wishes
Marianne Blake

Snow Warning

January 31st, 2019

Dear Parents/Carers
You will be aware that the Met Office has issued a regional yellow warning for snow and ice potentially bringing disruption overnight and into Friday. This may affect the school tomorrow.

We will review the state of the roads and school site in the morning before taking the decision to keep the school open, or to close. We only close if it is unsafe to open the school or if roads to the school are impassible. I will post a notice on the school website to update you and my aim is to have that in place around 7.00am and send you a ParentMail to inform you if we have a school closure.

I am writing to you this afternoon so that you can take this opportunity to make provisional arrangements for tomorrow, in case of heavy snow.

Miss Marianne Blake-Principal

The MFL Open Day

January 31st, 2019

Queens College at Oxford University

We had the pleasure of taking 6 OSA students from Year 9 to The MFL Open Day at Queens College at Oxford University to find out more why you should student Modern Foreign Languages. The students did us proud by answering and asking questions in front of an auditorium full of other Year 9 students from across Oxfordshire.

This is what the students had to say afterwards:

Gianluca: “I really enjoyed the languages day, because it was interesting to see where taking a course in a language can take you, I liked the short film and it was a fun challenge to subtitle it.”

India: “It was good because it really interested me how you can study how languages work in the brain. I also really enjoyed learning Portuguese.”

Phoenix: “It was educational and interesting to listen to the people talking about different language courses. I am now considering taking a language at university.”

Samra: “It was very educational and I really enjoyed the group work during the second workshop.”

Lila: “It was fun to learn Italian and making subtitles for the film helped me extend my vocabulary.”

We are looking forward to going again next year.

Year 10 Cambridge Aspiration

January 30th, 2019

A group of 12 Year 10 students went to Cambridge on 29 January as part of Peterhouse’s schools programme.

Looking at university degree courses, meeting students, looking around the college and hearing taster lectures from college lecturers, the students found out about what Cambridge, and other universities, offer and what student life is like.

As students move towards choosing A level subjects, it is important that they begin to consider their futures.

A second group will visit colleges in Oxford as part of a similar scheme in March, and a larger group in Year 11 are due to spend a day at New College in March too – the second stage of the Step Up programme OSA joined this year.

Support for university applicants wherever they wish to go is an important part of Sixth Form work at Spires and days like these help some students think about some of the most competitive courses and institutions.



Displaced Voices: Students poets in Oxford and London

January 28th, 2019

Ftoun with composers

On Friday 18 and Saturday 19 January, OSA poets Ftoun, Merzia, Halema and Timi took part in performances as part of the Orchestra of St John’s ‘Displaced Voices’ project. It was inspired by reading the Picador volume of students’ poetry, edited by Kate Clanchy, ‘England: Poems from a School’.



Following workshops with composer, Toby Young, and OSJ conductor, Cayenna Ponchione, to set their poetry to music, the four stars read their poetry in front of packed audiences at Somerville College and at King’s Place arts centre in central London.


They gained rapturous applause for their poems that looked at their homelands in Syria and Afghanistan, and, in the case of Timi, a student from Nigeria, gave a wry assessment of the English.



Three of OSA’s poets – Shukria, Mukahang and Ftoun, also had their poems set as songs for mezzo-soprano, Charlotte Tetley, and they were delighted to meet the composers who had set their work (respectively, Sadie Harrison, Shirley J Thompson and Toby Young).



Before the Oxford concert, there was a panel discussion on the voices of refugees at Somerville College, and Mukahang took part in a poetry reading at the Open House venue on Little Clarendon Street. While on the Saturday, the four poets performing in the concert were interviewed by undergraduates from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.

All in all, our poets – once again – did the school proud. It was an amazing experience, and they rose to the challenge!

Sixth Form Open Evening and Morning

January 28th, 2019

Thanks to all who attended the packed Sixth Form Open Evening on Thursday 24 January, and the Open Morning on the Friday.  It was wonderful to see so many engaged and ambitious young people, keen to work out future pathways and to make the most of all Oxford Spires has to offer its older students.

A presentation from Dr Watson, Head of Sixth Form, and students currently in Year 12 and 13 (Jasmin and Mukahang – Head Girl and Boy – and Year 12s, Oscar, Abbie and Tahira) was followed by visits to teachers and students of the subjects on offer after GCSE.

The school is offering 25 subjects at A level this year – more than ever before – as well as 2 Level 3 BTECs and a Level 2 course. For more information on those, please see the Sixth Form prospectus on the website.

If you would like more information about Sixth Form at OSA, or would like to look around the school, please contact the Head of Sixth Form, Dr Watson, on Applications are due in by the end of January, and there is an online application form on the school website under the ‘Sixth Form’ tab.

Safeguarding Bulletin January 2019

January 25th, 2019

Please find our latest safeguarding bulletin here Advice On County Lines

ARTiculation Finalists

January 25th, 2019

We’re so proud of the hard work these students have put into their speeches for the Art Public speaking competition. They’re required to speak confidently about an artist or artwork for 10 minutes. Our winner, Janier, will be speaking at the Regional finals at the Ashmolean Museum on Thursday 7th February.
1st place Janier
2nd place Amna
3rd place Jahdai

Left to right: Amna, Janier, Jahdai

House Dance – Change To Advertised Date

January 16th, 2019

Please note House Dance has been rescheduled from Thursday 7th February 2019 – Wednesday 13th February 2019

Celebrating OSA Success

January 11th, 2019

Presentation Evening, held this year on 9 January, is one of the highlights of the school year. As last year’s GCSE and A level students were presented with their certificates, and subject prizes given out for the last academic year, it was wonderful to see how great the progress and achievement of so many young people!

This year’s event saw prizes given out by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, a former Leader of the House of Lords, cabinet minister and Privy Councillor, and now Principal of Somerville College, Oxford. Her very well received and inspiring speech reminded students of their potential to make the world a better and fairer place in the years to come, and reassured them that – however much they might face challenges – they were able to overcome them.

Congratulations to all those with prizes and certificates, and special mention to Houseefa Zaffar (now in Year 12), winner of the prize for the best GCSE score, and to Eleanor Floyd (now studying History at Exeter University), for the best A Levels.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon

Presentation Evening 9th January 2019