Magdalen College School, Oxford

Magdalen College School, Oxford
Magdalen College School
Magdalen crest.gif
Motto Sicut Lilium
(Like the Lily)
Established 1480
Type Independent School
Religion Anglican
Master Dr Timothy Hands BA
Usher James Hodgson
Founder William Waynflete
Location Oxford
United Kingdom
Staff 160 (approx.)
Students 796
Gender Boys in all years and Girls in the Sixth Form
Ages 7–18
Houses 6 Senior; 6 Junior
Publication The Lily, The Melting Pot, The MCS Inquirer, 155, The MCS Blazer
Former pupils Old Waynfletes (OWs)
Head of School Andrew Willis

Coordinates: 51°44′57″N 1°14′39″W / 51.74903°N 1.24429°W / 51.74903; -1.24429

Magdalen College School is an independent school for boys (girls in the sixth form as of 2010) located on The Plain in Oxford, England. It was founded as part of Magdalen College, Oxford by William Waynflete in 1480.

The Good Schools Guide described the school as having "A comfortable mix of brains, brawn and artistic flair but demanding and challenging too," adding, "Not what you might expect a boys' public school to look like or feel like."[1]

The school was named Independent School of the Year by the Sunday Times in 2004[2] and in 2008,[3] the first boys' school to achieve this award twice.



The school is headed by a Headmaster (known at Magdalen as simply "the Master") and a Board of Governors, who appoint the Master. It has both a senior school and a junior school. It contains 6 boys' houses in Big School each headed by a housemaster, selected from the more senior members among the teaching staff, who number some 160. There are also six separate houses in the Junior School.

Almost all of the school's pupils go on to universities, about a third of them to Oxford or Cambridge.[4]

The Master, Dr Tim Hands, is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference denoting the school as a public school.


The School was originally founded in 1480 by William Waynflete to educate the sixteen boy choristers of Magdalen College, Oxford who sang in the college's chapel, as well as other gifted local children of high academic achievement. Since then it has grown from its original pupil population of approximately 30 to over 850. In 1890 the school moved from its original location in Magdalen College itself to its present location just over Magdalen Bridge and opposite the college. in 2010, the school admitted girls in the sixth form for the first time, and continues to offer coeducation in the final two years of school (years 12 and 13).

Facilities wise. the school has moved on, and has spread across the road, and the Schoolhouse, built in the nineteenth century on the current site, is now used for the Juniors (ages 7–11) whilst the school facilities across Cowley Place is the location for the Senior School (ages 11–18)). Recent additions to the campus have been the Sir Basil Blackwell Library and a new school refectory and art building, and facilities for the sixth form.

Junior School

The Junior School is the section of MCS for boys of ages seven to eleven (or years 3 to 6). Year 3 is called J1 and contains around 16 boys; Year 4 is J2 and contains approximately the same number; Year 5 is split into J3A and J3B and contains around 35 boys; while Year 6 is split into J4A and J4B and contains around 40 boys. The current head of the Junior School is Ms Helen Barnard, while the deputy head is Mrs Elizabeth Stapleton. There is an art competition every year, it is to design a front/back cover for the Magdalen College Junior School magazine called Views from the Bridge. There are six houses, Holt, Millard, More, Ogle, Tyndale and Wolsey, named after old masters of the school who have achieved notable things.


The school operates a three term year and refers to its terms by their original titles, based on Oxford University's names for them. They are;

  • The Michaelmas Term, from early September to mid December.
  • The Hilary Term, from mid-January to late March.
  • The Trinity Term, from late April to late June or early July.

Boys' houses

House names

There are six houses at Magdalen, named after old boys who died in the two World Wars.[5] They are:

  • Callender (Green), named after John Clement Callender
  • Chavasse (Dark Blue), named after Captain Noel Chavasse who was one of only three men ever to be awarded VC and Bar
  • Leicester (Purple), named after Donovan Nicholas Leicester
  • Maltby (Light Blue), named after Charles Robert Crighton Maltby
  • Walker-Dunn (Red), named after Geoffrey Walker and Bruce Dunn
  • Wilkinson-Blagden (Yellow), named after Frank D. Wilkinson and Maurice Bernard Blagden

House structure

Each house is divided into five different sections: Room 1 for Upper 6th, Room 1b for lower 6th, Room 2 (5th and U4th boys), Room 3 (U4th and L4th boys) and Room 4 (2nd and 3rd form boys). [6] In each of these houserooms there is a house tutor and Room 1 is run by the housemaster. Each house also has a Head of House who is a pupil appointed by the housemaster.

There are numerous inter-house competitions held throughout the year, which include House Singing, House Swimming, House Cross-Country, House Quizzing, House Football, House Drama and House Hockey among many others. Houses have House Captains in each of these competitions.

The house structure helps keep a healthy and friendly competitive atmosphere among the boys and the house tutors are there to talk to if the boys ever need any advice.


Sports are a major feature of life at Magdalen. The school's central city location does not limit the sporting endevours of the school as it has the priviledge of using of many of the University's facilities around the city as well as using the enormous School Field which is surrounded by the River Cherwell. The school also has a smaller field known as 'The Spit' which can be seen from Magdalen Bridge, used by the Junior School.

  • During the Michaelmas Term, the sport curriculum is dominated by Rugby Union for the boys and hockey for the girls.
  • The Hilary Term it is dominated by Hockey, played on the University Astroturf field and Oxford Hawk's Hockey Club in Summertown, with netball for the girls.
  • During the Trinity Term, there is a division between those who play Tennis and those who play Cricket. Athletics is also a major sport.

The school employs a number of sports professionals to maximise the standards attained by the pupils in sport - these are listed on the school website.

Rowing, Sailing, Golf and Physical Education in the School's fitness centre occur throughout the year. The school has a number of nationally-honoured rowers, and the school's sailing team regularly competes against and beats university sailing teams from around the world.

Magdalen also has, in recent times organised sports fixtures to aid charity, or for the general amusement of all. A netball match was won against Christ Church ladies, a rugby 7s victory against the staff and a 2006 U15B team cricket reunion against the current 4th XI was won by the former, sporting a vivacious orange kit. There are also many end of season matches against staff or parent's teams.

Some boys go on to play for Oakthorpe Invitational, an invitational rugby club founded by old boys from Magdalen, Abingdon and St Edward's in 2006.


Kingball is a game played at Magdalen.[2][7] The tradition, unique to the school, was first played at Magdalen some time in the 19th century, and although to some extent the rules are passed down from year to year, every new year that takes up the game usually adopts its own rules as well. The game has been actively played during breaktimes amongst pupils using three courts, painted by the school. The game is still played every day at the school.[8]

Game layout

The game is played on a court that is very distinctly shaped. The ball (a tennis ball) is bounced around the court and the players progress up the shaped squares (although in fact none of them are square-shaped) until he is in the 'King' square. Then he serves and so the game progresses until he is eventually knocked off the 'King' square. The game is predominantly played by younger boys, ranging from 8–13 years old. However, whenever boys from this age range vacate the courts and there are no tutors to tell them otherwise, older boys enjoy to play the unique "sport". The seven squares are, in order of descending rank: King, Queen, Prince, Evil, Easy, Big, Rabies,and Tiny. If the court has been filled up then the extra players join another player currently playing to form a team of two.


  • After one bounce, a player has to palm the ball into his own square before it lands in an opponent's.
  • After two bounces, the ball must be hit directly into an opponent's square, without bouncing.
  • After three bounces, the ball must be kicked into an opponent's square without bouncing.
  • On the fourth bounce or failure to comply with the above rules, a player is demoted to the lowest available square (or court-side if no squares are available) and all other players who were previously below that player in the hierarchy move up a square, one step closer to becoming king.

One can play with one player per square (Seven), Or can double up (14). When the game was played in the late 1970s and early 1980s the only lawful play was that identified at (1) above. If a player could not lawfully play the ball after the first bounce in his square (and at that time the squares were indeed square-shaped and measured about 1.5 to 2 metres from corner to corner) then he was demoted. Also at this time,the names of the squares were not fixed – save for the King square – although frequent references to Queen, Jack, 10 and so on (as per a suit in a pack of cards) were made informally. There was no fixed number of squares although the normal number was 6 (in a 3x2 formation); 8 was not infrequent and larger numbers could be chosen to avoid long queues of those described above as 'slaves'.

The service is played by palming the ball (having thrown it up into the air) into one's own square so as to bounce in another's square and the original serve is above waist height. The occupant of that square then plays as above.

Societies and pastimes


Magdalen has a longstanding culture of clubs and societies, frequently run and operated by boys, and some of which (such as the Climbing and Sailing clubs) charge a small annual membership fee, the fees being used to fund club equipment and activities and in some cases improve communal school resources. Such clubs include well-established, traditional clubs like those in other schools such as the Debating Society, Computer Club, Historical society, Model United Nations, Gun Club, Archaeological Society, and Choral Society, DT and nitro club and bell ringing clubs. More esoteric clubs and societies include the well-established St. Thomas More Society and the Cheese Club.

During lunchbreak and morning breaks, boys frequently play in the central playground or Milham Ford, behind the main teaching block (formerly grass and now occupied by hockey / tennis courts). 'The Spit' (one of the school fields) is used during breaktimes by the nearby Junior School, and has a fenced grass area and a Playground with swings, slides, etc. Informal activities during breaktimes include football, cricket, etc., as well as Magdalen's traditional game, Kingball.

Magdalen has a strong chess tradition, coming third in the National Finals in 2007.


At the end of the lower fourth form (Year 9), pupils are allowed to take part in Combined Cadet Force (CCF) however it is optional up to the end of fifth for when pupils choose between CCF or the Community Service Organisation (CSO). They are required to take part for the following year on a Tuesday afternoon, but many stay on in the Upper Sixth as well.

The Magdalen College School CCF is open to Oxford High School GDST girls as well, and is divided up into four sections: Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and a Signals Corps open only to boys in the 6th form. Recently, the school has introduced 'after-school' CCF activities aimed at boys from 13 and above. About once every term, there is a CCF field-day, where pupils spend the entire school day involved with their particular activity. The Army usually camp overnight in a disused army camp, carrying out marches, taking part in tactical missions, or just relaxing beside a log-fire.

CSO provides the chance for pupils to give something back to the community. There are three main options: working in a local junior school, helping in a charity shop or aiding at the John Radcliffe Hospital. The work is both rewarding and satisfying, and many people decide to carry on in the Upper Sixth . The Concert Party, a subsection of the CSO, consists of 2 groups of boys visiting local junior schools and nursing homes, and performing a musical show.

School media

The school has an annual magazine, a student newspaper and a satirical publication. The Lily is the official school magazine, published yearly, detailing the activities and progress of the school and staff. It is run by a senior boy Editor and a member of staff with the assistance of an editing team.

The school also has an newspaper called The Melting Pot. It runs many articles on a wide variety of subjects, both related and unrelated to the school. It is published every half-term and is run by an Editor in Chief, with subsequent subject area editors. New younger boys who wish to join the team are usually initiated by being asked to write a piece on Lower School Sports.

Another, arguably more popular paper, in the form of the satirical and unofficial paper The MCS Inquirer is also published, based on the "The Day Today", albeit somewhat irregularly. There is also a newsletter named 'The Blazer' in the Junior School.

Music and drama


The current Director of Music is Jon Cullen, and the Assistant Director of Music is Peter Smith. The school boasts two organs (one electric action in 'Big School', one digital in the Music School) and a building for music (performance spaces include the School Hall (called 'Big School'), the Music School and the new refectory). Many instruments are taught, and many ensembles catering to a wide variety of tastes and styles operate on a weekly basis. The school participates in many national competitions; many pupils are part of the National Youth Orchestra and National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, and the school gives scholarships for dedicated and talented musicians.

The school also serves as the school for the Choristers of Magdalen College, Oxford.[9] There are sixteen choristers at any one time, in a tradition that has been unbroken since 1458, who sing daily services in the college chapel and perform in other concerts and events throughout the year.


Many plays are put on every year at Magdalen; there is one main theatre, called 'Big School', and several other venues (including the Jacqueline Du Pré Music Building in St Hilda's College, Oxford opposite the school). There is an annual house drama competition where each house produces a small 10 minute segment of drama, often written by its own members. The School musical in the Michaelmas Term is normally fully booked every night, such is its reputation. Other productions are put on throughout the year. Most recently, the school has put on Grease, Anything Goes, David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, Coram Boy, Kiss me Kate, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Often girls from surrounding schools, such as Oxford High School and Headington School come in to play female roles.

The school's 2010 Arts Festival featured performances of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows and a chorister drama called The Gentleman Usher, by George Chapman as well as other student-written productions. The Arts Festival is now an annual feature in the school calendar at the end of the Trinity Term. 2011 was equally impressive - The final week of Trinity term saw the third year of Magdalen College School’s Arts Festival. MCS put on a huge range of events hosted both within school and at major venues throughout Oxford, encompassing drama, art, music, literature, politics and more, including:

Arts Festival Concert, Ivor and I, Philip Reeve Book Talk, Philip Ardagh Book Talk, Pinter's Celebration, MCS Filmmakers, MCS's Got Talent, Frank Gardner Talk, David Blunkett Talk, As You Like It, Organ Recital, Madrigals on the River.

2011 featured a highly sucessful performance of AN ENLIGHTENMENT EVENING OF HOME THEATRICALS in the Orangery at Blenheim Palace.

The school has recently announced a partnership with the Oxford Playhouse, involving a Drama Academy and two new appointments, and allowing the school three shows a year in the Burton Taylor Studios and one on the Playhouse's main stage.

The school also performs at the Edinburgh fringe.

School songs

The school has had many famous musicians over time. There are many songs dedicated to the school by such past pupils with the school hymn being one of them, entitled 'Miles Christi' ('Christ's Soldier'). The other school hymn is "The Lilies of the Field", which is sung at the Remembrance service every November, and at the Commemoration service at the end of the school year.

The 'House Singing' competition has recently become an annual school event, in which the various houses of the school compete against each other in the form of singing. A guest judge attends each year to cast the verdict on the results of the tournament. The 2011 competition featured exceptional renditions of 'Under The Bridge' by a small group of Callender boys (who went on to win in the small group category), and an innovative version of 'The Time of my Life', performed by Wilkinson (who went on to win the big group category). Callendar won the overall competition, as they came first in small group and second in big group, therefore amassing the most amount of points.


Magdalen's best-known celebration takes place on 'Commemoration' on the last Saturday of full term in the Trinity Term. This day is begun with a service the University Church of St Mary's, with full recitation of the hundreds of names of the benefactors of the school, followed by tea, music and sports in the afternoon.

Other notable events include 'Madrigals', performed on the evening of the last Friday of Trinity Term, where a select number of the Choral Society are punted out to one of the school's landing stages on the side of the river and perform a concert of madrigals in the punts; and 'Midsummer Mania' which is a fair-like event held by the Parents Association with games, sports, raffles and an infamous karaoke.

Other schools of that name

Wayneflete's original foundation also included a Magdalen College School at Wainfleet, Lincolnshire, which closed in 1933.[10]

There is still a Magdalen College School at Brackley, Northamptonshire.

Notable old boys

Old boys are called Old Waynfletes (OWs) after the founder. See Category:Old Waynfletes

Roughly in chronological order:


Several books over the years have been written about the school. These include:

  • Stanier, R.S. Magdalen School (first edition, Clarendon Press 1940; second edition Blackwell 1958).
  • Clarke, D.L.L. Magdalen School: Five Hundred Years on (Blackwell 1980).
  • Hey, Colin Magdalen Schooldays 1917–1924 (Senecio 1977).
  • Orme, Nicholas Education in Early Tudor England: Magdalen College Oxford and Its School, 1480–1540 (Magdalen College 1988).

As an interesting addition to the above list, the novel North by long-serving former Head of English Brian Martin (Macmillan New Writing, 2006) is widely acknowledged to be set in the school, although it is not mentioned by name. The main character, an 'eminently shaggable' Head of History never without her complement of fake tan, is a very clear example of the similarities, although despite rumours to the contrary, the titular "North" appears to be a fictional compound of several old boys (he notably conducts an affair with the teacher). Another novel which is clearly based on a fictional version of the school is The Singing Time by Maida Stanier, wife of a former Master (Michael Joseph, 1975).


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Magdalen College School — may refer to: Magdalen College School, Oxford, Oxfordshire Magdalen College School, Brackley, Northamptonshire Magdalen College School, Wainfleet, Lincolnshire This disambiguation page lists articles about schools, colleges, or other educational… …   Wikipedia

  • Magdalen College School, Brackley — 200px Motto Sicut Lilium (As Lilies) Established 1548 Type Voluntary controlled Comprehensive Religion Secular …   Wikipedia

  • Oxford High School (Oxford) — For other places with the same name, see Oxford High School (disambiguation). Oxford High School Motto Ad Lucem (To the light) Established 1875 Type Independent School Headmistress Judith Cardle Location …   Wikipedia

  • Magdalen College — or Magdalene College could be *Magdalen College, Oxford a constituent college of the University of Oxford *Magdalene College, Cambridge a constituent college of the University of Cambridge *Magdalen College School, Oxford a day school for boys… …   Wikipedia

  • Magdalen College (disambiguation) — Magdalen College or Magdalene College may refer to: Magdalen College, Oxford a constituent college of the University of Oxford Magdalene College, Cambridge a constituent college of the University of Cambridge The College of Saint Mary Magdalen a… …   Wikipedia

  • Magdalen College, Oxford — This article is about an Oxford college. For other uses, see Magdalen College (disambiguation). Colleges and halls of the University of Oxford The President and Fellows of the College of St Mary Magdalen in the University of Oxford …   Wikipedia

  • Magdalen College (Oxford) — 51° 45′ 09″ N 1° 14′ 49″ W / 51.7524, 1.24708 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Magdalen College — El Magdalen College. El Magdalen College[1] es uno de los colleges que constituyen la Universidad de Oxford en el Reino Unido. En 2006 tuvo un presupuesto estimado en 153 m …   Wikipedia Español

  • Magdalen College — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Magdalen College un des collèges constituant l université d Oxford Magdalen College School une école pour garçons de 7 à 18 ans, située à Oxford Magdalen… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Matthew Arnold School (Oxford) — Matthew Arnold School Type Secondary school Religion Non Denominational Headteacher Mrs Katherine Ryan Chair of Governors Mrs M Ford Specialism Science and Maths College Locati …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.