These are the four best state primary schools in Wallingford and the surrounding villages between Abingdon and the Chiltern Hills;
- Long Wittenham CofE Primary School,
- St Laurence CofE School in Warborough,
- Crowmarsh Gifford CofE School, and
- Ewelme CofE Primary School near Wallingford.
All four are small rural village schools, and church schools too. They are also among the top 15% of schools in the country, as determined by the Schoolsmith Score;
The differences between primary schools are less obvious than prep schools, and deliberately so. State education is designed such that all children should receive the same curriculum irrespective of where they are taught, and who is teaching them. So, to differentiate, parents have traditionally looked to SATS results and Ofsted gradings. Beyond that, there is also a commonly held belief that Church schools are ‘better’ schools. That’s pretty much it. Hopefully, this comparison might shed a little more light.
There is also a partner review for prep schools in Abingdon and the surrounding area. And that can be found here (soon).
Age range, gender mix, and faith
- Long Wittenham CofE Primary School; 4 to 11 years,
- St Laurence CofE School; 4 to 11 years,
- Crowmarsh Gifford CofE School; 2 to 11 years,
- Ewelme CofE Primary School; 4 to 11 years.
They each take children from Reception, and Crowmarsh Gifford CofE School has its own pre-school for children aged two upwards. Warborough & Shillingford Pre School, for children aged 2 to 4 years, shares the St Laurence CofE school site.
The schools provide both before school and after school hours care from 7.30/7.45am to 5.15/6.00pm. A mix of school staff and external contractors provide the care at Ewelme CofE Primary and Long Wittenham CofE Primary. At St Laurence CofE School and Crowmarsh Gifford CofE School, only school staff provide care.
As far as gender mix goes, they are all co-educational, as indeed are almost all state primary schools.
All four are church schools. But St Laurence CofE School and Ewelme CofE Primary are, or were, Voluntary Aided schools, which means that faith may have a role to play in their admissions policies.
St Laurence CofE School is an academy with some flexibility over the school day and its curriculum. It is also part of a multi academy trust so may draw on specialist resources from other schools in the trust.
In terms of admissions policy, please refer to the individual schools’ websites. All operate a catchment system administered by Oxfordshire Education Authority.
The faithful may have some priority at St Laurence CofE School and Ewelme CofE Primary if they are oversubscribed for places in Reception. Which the former usually is. Crowmarsh Gifford CofE School, on the other hand, is one of the 20 most oversubscribed schools in Oxfordshire.
Ofsted inspectors consider Crowmarsh Gifford CofE School and Ewelme CofE Primary to be Good, according to their latest inspections.
Long Wittenham CofE Primary was rerated in 2019 from Good to Requires Improvement. That grading did not change in the 2022 inspection which found the school at fault for the quality of education and management. The quality of education issue was to do with embedding teaching processes for weaker readers, and the logical progression of learning in other subjects. Both are in hand. A rating of weakness in leadership and management is a natural consequence of not addressing the quality of education issues.
St Laurence CofE School was rerated from Good to Inadequate in 2022. It was also found to be at fault for the quality of education and management. Specifically, not properly embedding the new phonics scheme and safeguarding. Both issues have been addressed, and the school has subsequently converted to an academy. It is expecting a re-inspection in 2023.
Buildings and grounds
These are small schools serving rural communities.
St Laurence CofE School and Crowmarsh Gifford CofE School occupy 1960s/1970s single-storey purpose-built facilities, with have sufficient grounds for outdoor play and sport.
The buildings at Long Wittenham CofE Primary are based around a Victorian village school. Management is planning the construction of a new eco-design school for the near future.
Buildings at Ewelme CofE Primary are older, and date back to medieval times. The school has the distinction of having the oldest functioning maintained school building in England.
Class sizes and classes per year
These top Wallingford state primary schools are small. Three have less than one class per year. In other words, mixed year groups and less than one class per year. Of course, size doesn’t necessarily influence the quality of education, but it can affect the look and feel of a school.
- 3 schools with four mixed-age classes; St Laurence CofE School, Ewelme CofE Primary and Long Wittenham CofE Primary.
- 1 school with one class per year; Crowmarsh Gifford CofE School.
Average class sizes are about 29 pupils at Crowmarsh Gifford and St Laurence. They are closer to 25 pupils at Long Wittenham, and 20 pupils at Ewelme CofE Primary.
Facilities at Wallingford state primary schools
They all have some specialist facilities to support their curricula, though specialist rooms are limited.
For sport each school has grass pitches, playgrounds or MUGAs, and multi-purpose halls.
The multi-purpose hall is the specialist arts facility at each school.
Academic facilities are networked laptops and devices, in-class reading areas, and an outdoor/environmental area.
These Wallingford primary schools teach a broad curriculum in line with the National Curriculum.
The curricula are similar. They teach most subjects separately, though they are usually organised by themes to allow relevant cross-curricular linking. History, geography, art and DT are the subjects most often linked. And there are theme weeks and cross-curricular projects.
Teaching pupils how to learn, so-called ‘learning habits’ are in evidence at these schools. None more so than at Crowmarsh Gifford CofE School where metacognitive techniques, or ‘Purple Learning’ is integrated into the curriculum.
As they are all church schools, the curricula emphasise Christian social morality. Particularly in lessons such as PSHE, Citizenship and in assemblies. RE, naturally, plays a prominent role in the curriculum as a core subject along with English and maths. And there is usually daily worship.
All four schools teach French as their modern foreign language. Three start in Year 3. Long Wittenham starts French in Year 1.
All schools have educational trips and visitors, and an adventure residential in Year 5 and/or 6.
Each includes some element of outdoor learning in their curricula, usually for their youngest pupils. Though pupils in all year groups at Long Wittenham CofE Primary and St Laurence CofE School have Forest School sessions.
Sport at Wallingford state primary schools
Each school encourages participation in physical exercise by teaching around nine or ten different sports. There are some fixtures against other schools, but participation, rather than competitiveness, is the essence of sport for such small schools.
The arts at Wallingford state primary schools
The schools all promote engagement with the arts on an individual and ensemble basis. For example, there is art, a choir, instrument learning, and dramatic performances at each school.
Pupils at these four Wallingford state primary schools also benefit from a small number of lunchtime and after-school activities. There’s sport, of course. But there are also some clubs for academic enrichment, hobbies, and arts.
Academic results at these Wallingford primary schools are variable. On a four-year average, two rank in the top third of UK schools for attainment in Year 6 SATS. They are Ewelme CofE Primary which is in the top 21%, and Crowmarsh Gifford CofE School which is in the top 28%.
Pupil progress results, by the same measure, are not as good. Only Ewelme CofE Primary performs better than the national average.
Choosing the best state primary school in Wallingford
The freedom to choose a state school is somewhat limited as applicants need to live within the school’s catchment area. But there may be a choice of more than one. Most Education Authorities offer the opportunity to select preferred schools, albeit from a limited list.
These schools are all among the top 15% best primary schools in the country. As I hope this note has shown, any one of them should be a preference.
|Rank||Best Wallingford primary schools||Schoolsmith Score|
|1||Crowmarsh Gifford CofE School||68|
|2=||Ewelme CofE Primary School||67|
|2=||Long Wittenham CofE Primary School||67|
|4||St Laurence CofE School||66|
See also the best state primary schools in Henley and Caversham, Reading, Newbury and Oxford
Why are these the best state primary schools in Wallingford?
Schools that feature in these notes are those with the highest Schoolsmith Scores, not just in Wallingford, but nationwide. The Schoolsmith Score is an objective score that accounts for 50 different aspects of schooling, grouped into 5 broad categories. You can read more about them from the links below, and the Schoolsmith Score here.
- their achievements; academic, sporting and artistic,
- the breadth of the education they offer,
- the quality of teaching,
- their facilities,
- their look and feel.
Need more help?
By now you might be wondering what you should be thinking about when choosing a school? It happens to everyone. Why not try my 7 one minute quizzes for those starting their school search? Wood, trees, and all that…