Since 1968, Rush Common School has served the community of north Abingdon for school-aged pupils. This September the school welcomes children into its new Preschool department, for rising 3 year olds and upwards, through merger with the same-named Preschool. This brings continuity of care and an education that spans the Early Years, across KS1 and to the end of KS2.

Brand new preschool accommodation opens on site in January 2024 and our photo shows new Reception pupils modelling their new uniform, with preschool children, and staff – Dawn Powell, Cassie Ambrosini, Manager of the Preschool Department and Mr K Fawcett.

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Along with a lovely school site and buildings, exciting trips and visits, and the lavish Friends of Rush Common events – including last year’s Firework Display – the quality of education is extremely strong, with pupils achieving results at the end of KS2 in their SATs at levels far higher than national, setting them up brilliantly for their secondary school education.

Oxford Mail: Rush Common School KS2 classroomRush Common School KS2 classroom (Image: Abingdon Learning Trust)

Fitzharrys School offers education to 11-18 year olds on an extensive green site, with outdoor spaces, sports facilities and even a wild life garden. With over £1M invested last year in carbon net zero improvements, the new air-source heat pumps and LED lighting demonstrate the Trust’s commitment to being Net Zero by 2035.

Oxford Mail: Discussions at FitzharrysDiscussions at Fitzharrys (Image: Abingdon Learning Trust)

With a glowing Ofsted inspection early in the summer, students achieved very impressive summer results for GCSEs, and compared to similar students nationally, getting nearly half a grade higher in each GCSE than students in other schools.

Oxford Mail: Fitzharrys Headteacher, Mr W Speke and studentsFitzharrys Headteacher, Mr W Speke and students (Image: Abingdon Learning Trust)

New Headteacher, Alastair West, is delighted to be leading John Mason School, having joined this September, along with 180 new Year 7 students.

Oxford Mail: John Mason School Headteacher, Mr A WestJohn Mason School Headteacher, Mr A West (Image: Abingdon Learning Trust)

Building on the historical strengths of the school, he says ‘This is such a great school, and I am thrilled to finally be in post. The staff, students and parents have been very welcoming, and I look forward to working with the whole community’.

John Mason School aims not to just teach students the knowledge and understanding they need within their subjects, but also to develop the skills they need to become independent lifelong learners. These skills are developed in the classroom and also through a wide range of extra curricular activities.

Oxford Mail: Rugby at John Mason SchoolRugby at John Mason School (Image: Abingdon Learning Trust)

Older students attend the joint sixth form at John Mason and Fitzharrys Schools.  They take A levels and other level 3 courses and continue to do well. This year top grades were awarded, with those students going off to study Maths, Theoretical Physics, Geography and Biology at universities including Durham, University of Birmingham and Bath.

A total of 83 students are going to university with others taking top apprenticeships with large national companies.

Oxford Mail: Friends at John Mason SchoolFriends at John Mason School (Image: Abingdon Learning Trust)

The Head of JMF6, Julia Preston said, ‘We are incredibly proud of the students and their achievements, especially with the disruption that they had through GCSE years due to the pandemic. This proves how positive and focussed they have been and shows the support from parents and staff during the sixth form years.’

Oxford Mail: JMF6JMF6 (Image: JMF6)

The three schools are part of the family of schools run by Abingdon Learning Trust and are all in the north of Abingdon. The schools work closely with each other, of course, and with all schools in Abingdon, across Oxfordshire, and further afield with a close relationship with two schools in Herefordshire.

Since the formation of the Trust in 2018, the schools offer a wider selection of career opportunities and better staff development; we use close collaboration to enhance the great teaching and learning in the schools; and have a joint financial benefit as a large organisation able to attract resources to it. For example, over £3 Million of extra funding has been received to improve the school buildings in all three schools. We have improved how well we use the government funding the schools receive each year and were able to offset the energy price inflation in the last year.

Dr Fiona Hammans, CEO, said ‘The joint sixth form, where students and staff work across Fitzharrys and John Mason Schools is an ideal example of how working together benefits students. Results are better for students, they can choose from a wider range of courses to meet their career next step, and staff across both schools share and learn from one another.’

We learnt through the pandemic how working together can bring huge benefit to us all….and when we have challenges, the whole Trust is there to help. That is the real benefit of our trust – the pool of talented people across all three schools has so much more to offer than in one school.

A great education, with happy and confident pupils and students ready for their next step in education and then into the world.