St Barnabas School

St. Barnabas School, Hart Street
St. Barnabas School, Hart Street

One of the city's most successful schools

Posted - December 26, 2012

The old buildings of St.Barnabas school dated from around 1870 and the Boys’ stone school from about twenty years earlier. In the 1950s, despite refurbishment in 1927, they were no longer able to meet the requirements of modern education. Under the 1948 Development Plan this would have been dealt with by the wholesale removal of both the school and much of the community to the outskirts of the city into new houses and schools with all modern facilities. The success of the resistance to this plan and the substitution of a policy of renewal meant that the problem still had to be faced.

The first suggestion put forward was for the school only to be transferred to a new out-of-town site and for the children to be taken out by bus to it. This idea met determined resistance from both the church and parents. Both wished the new school to be in Jericho with sufficient space for a playground to be part of the school, the solution that was eventually accepted.

The largest open space in Jericho then was the site of the former Jericho Gardens which had been demolished in 1939 together with most of King Street. By inco¬porating the roadway of this section of Cardigan Street into the site and clearing the block between Cardigan and Great Clarendon Streets the necessary space was found. All the properties in this, the old heart of Jericho, dated from between 1829-30. They were cleared and the west side of King Street incorporated into the playing field. The school itself stands on the land once occupied by the tenements of Jericho Gardens, leaving only a small patch of public playground which had been created after the houses were cleared in 1939.

The new building which consists of a Primary School and separate Infants section opened in 1977. This involves somewhat larger premises than originally proposed as the Diocese had granted extra funds for the main hall and entrance to be used as a community centre out of school hours, a hope largely nullified by administrative legalities, although it is used for public meetings. The use of the playground was also initially denied, an edict impossible to enforce as the children climbed in without permission.

Eventually a wicket gate was made in the railings and the grounds opened for public use. At the present time events including car boot sales are regularly held on the tarmac part of the playground and the grass used for fetes. During the summer vacation the grounds are opened for playgroups under voluntary supervision.

St.Barnabas is still a church school but earlier close links have lessened with the changing make-up of the local population and the increasing numbers of children coming from other parts of central Oxford. The rising roll call necessitated the subsequent expansion of the school and has fully justified the residents’ fight to keep the school in Jericho.

This article us based on the entry in the Jericho Sketchbook

Did you know?

Who owns the houses?

In Jericho in 2011, only 21% of households were owner occupiers. Instead, many more people rented their homes: 58% from private landlords and 20% from ‘social’ landlords, mostly the City Council.

How religious we are?

In the 2001 Census, some 50% of Jericho residents said they were Christian, 2.2% Muslim, 1.9% Buddhist and 1.2% professed other religions, while 34% of people said they had no religion. In Oxford as a whole the proportion with no religion was 24%.