For Parents

We make a commitment that any student choosing The Swan School will have a truly outstanding experience. In order for this to happen, mutual commitment and agreement is needed from three sources: the staff, the student and their parents or carers. If you are a student or parent or carer considering The Swan School, we expect you to understand three things. The first is that the school will provide a uniquely challenging and structured experience in a caring and disciplined environment. The second is that we expect all students to work to the best of their abilities all the time and have excellent attendance and behaviour. The third is that we expect parents and carers to fully support the school in its unique approach, vision and mission.
This is a school for families who want their child to be safe and happy in a school with exemplary behaviour standards. They will want their child to be challenged and to follow a largely traditional and academic curriculum. They will agree that this will require sustained hard work, self-discipline and commitment from the students and full support from the students’ families.
  • A commitment to non-selective mixed comprehensive education for local young people
  • High expectations for all students and a belief in the power of excellent teaching to ensure success
  • A commitment that all students are entitled to an excellent academic education through which they become knowledgeable about the world around them
  • A commitment that all students will participate in activities and experiences that actively promote self-esteem, kindness, confidence and resilience
  • A relentless optimism and ambition for what everyone within the school can achieve


Key events on the timeline for a new school >




The school will admit 120 pupils into Year 7 in 2019 and 2020, and this will increase to 180 from 2021 onwards. As such the school will be designed to accommodate 1,260 pupils (180 in each year group from Year 7 to Year 13, ages 11-18). For more information please see Here.

It might seem like a leap of faith to send your child to a school that is not yet open. But you should not regard applying to The Swan School as a risk. The River Learning Trust, the multi-academy trust behind the proposal, has a track record of delivering excellent education to secondary and primary pupils across the county. Among the fine local schools in the trust is nearby Cherwell, which is consistently the top-performing secondary in Oxfordshire. The people involved in establishing The Swan School know education and they know Oxford. RLT regards setting up a completely new school as an opportunity to implement all that its experienced staff have learnt about educating Oxfordshire’s children. And it is a chance to do so without having to make the sort of compromises that would inevitably be made when taking on an existing school with established structures and cultures.

Galliford Try has been chosen by government education agency the ESFA as the developer of the site and buildings for The Swan School and Meadowbrook College. It has designed the buildings (in consultation with the ESFA and The Swan School), managed the planning process (including traffic management) and will eventually manage the construction as agreed through the planning process. To find out more about Galliford Try, visit its website

The RLT is a schools-led multi-academy trust, currently comprising of a number of secondary schools and primary schools and a SCITT (school-centred initial teacher training) provider. To learn more about the River Learning Trust, visit the website

In 2015 a group from outside Oxfordshire submitted an application to open a free school in Oxford and the River Learning Trust (at the time called The Cherwell School Academy Trust) also submitted an application to open a new school, recognising this as a rare opportunity to build on the success of existing RLT schools like The Cherwell School. The application in principle for The Swan School, as opposed to the outside bid, gained considerable local support and was approved in September 2015.

The development of The Swan School is being managed by a steering group that includes the chief executive of RLT, the chair of RLT, a trustee and a member of RLT and two co-opted members with educational expertise. This group is directly accountable to the RLT Trust Board, the DfE and the ESFA. The process is also supported by the RLT central team (finance, operations, HR, premises etc). We also have plans to increase resources over the length of the project to ensure the opening is a success. We expect the headteacher for the school to be taking up post in January 2019. The Local Governing Body (LGB) is yet to be appointed/elected. The make-up and responsibilities of the LGB are planned to be the same as those for other RLT schools. A copy of the current scheme of delegation for schools can be found on the RLT website

The Swan School is committed to safe, healthy and environmentally sustainable travel. We will expect the vast majority of our students to arrive by cycle, on foot or by public transport. Travelling to school by car will be strongly discouraged; whilst we recognise that some students have to come by car, others may initially wish to come by car because of lack of information about, or lack of confidence in, the alternatives. We are keen to promote the alternatives and to help students choose more sustainable forms of transport.

The Swan School will have a school uniform. The colours are dark blue and green. Students will wear shoes, not trainers. Information about stockists will be made available at a later date.

Meadowbrook College, which currently occupies the Harlow Centre site, is benefitting from a new building as part of The Swan School programme. The new Meadowbrook College building will be clearly separated from The Swan School, with a notable distance and clear boundary between the two buildings and will continue to have its current access route from Raymund Road, which will not be used by The Swan School. Meadowbrook is for children currently struggling to access mainstream education. It is not part of the River Learning Trust.

The access to St Nicholas’ Primary School is not expected to change as part of this programme. Primary and secondary schools being adjacent to one another usually brings educational advantages for both schools. Primary schools, in particular, should benefit from some access to secondary specialist facilities being so close. We are working with Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council to explore suitable access options for The Swan School to minimise its impact on its surroundings, including St Nicholas’ Primary School and other local residents. St Nicholas’ Primary School is also benefitting from some new sports facilities as a result of this project

The Swan School will be a new and different school, separate from The Cherwell School. A partnership between the two schools will develop and can include the sharing of best practice and, where appropriate for both schools, sharing staff and resources. The proposals for the sixth form are still under review, but some of the A Level teaching may involve some lessons being taught at The Cherwell School. The Swan School, like Cherwell, will also benefit from collaboration with other secondary schools in RLT.