LAXTON JUNIOR SCHOOL
This is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in those things that matter most to us and to assure the long-term security of the School we want to be.
Sarah Kerr-Dineen, Head

Our vision

We place the highest value on giving our pupils every possible opportunity to flourish and on being true to our identity as a co-educational boarding school. Fundamental to this commitment is the quality of our care, including the physical and pastoral structures that make it possible.

Project 24 celebrates our profound belief in co-education and in guiding our children’s development. It also embraces our long-held belief that boarding offers the best environment within which to realise our ambitions for all our pupils.

Project 24: Investing in our Future

Q&A

Strengthening our commitment to boarding

Why invest in new girls’ boarding House?

As we move towards the 35th anniversary of co-education, the new central location of a girls boarding House celebrates the place of girls in the School and enables girls’ boarding fully to take its place among the historic town Houses. The construction of a new girls’ boarding House, which will be home to the New House community, will also enable a far more ambitious and thorough rolling programme of refurbishment across the whole boarding estate than if we were limited to carrying out works with School holidays. The vacated House will serve as a decanting House for those Houses being refurbished.

What will the boarding estate refurbishment look like?

This will depend on the needs of each individual House, but constant throughout will be our commitment to the House as a home to the pupils.

Where will the new House be built?

We have made the decision to convert the former town primary school and its grounds, located on the corner of Drummingwell Lane and Milton Road. This land was purchased by the School in 2019 and will see a girls’ boarding House take its place among the historical town Houses for the first time.

What are the construction plans and timing?

We are now entering the preliminary planning stages and we look forward to sharing more detailed plans in due course. Completion is likely to be at the point when our 2022 Third Form will be in the Upper Sixth Form, ie 2026.

Why move the existing New House community into the new build?

As the pandemic hit, Oundle marked 30 years of co-education. This development represents a restatement of our belief in co-education and boarding by placing a girls’ House in the heart of Oundle town, in an iconic location with a design that combines older and newer buildings as well as generous green space – as New House does now. As the only stand-alone girls’ House, New House was the obvious candidate for the move.

Will the ethos and history of the current House be preserved?

Absolutely. New House’s heritage as a boys’ then a girls’ House will move with the current New House girls and always be part of the House’s history. Many Houses evolve and develop throughout time, including Laxton/Fisher, Sanderson and Dryden. These were not, of course, physical moves but they were all changes that were made and lived through without abandoning each House’s former chapters. Interestingly, the communities now in the boys’ Field Houses started their lives in the building now known as New House. The boys physically moved to their present locations as individual communities with their Housemasters when the Field Houses were built.

The idyllic garden, for which New House is renowned, will remain part of both its heritage and future. The chosen location is both central and spacious, with a striking outlook and plenty of opportunity for green lawn space. Over the coming months and years, the New House community, led by Housemistress Caroline Rees, will be pivotal to the designs of both the building and its gardens, helping ensure that the new environment both reflects and amplifies all that is special about the current House.

What will happen to the current New House and its grounds?

New House has a beautiful garden, made possible by its less central location. The planned refurbishment of the rest of the boarding estate over the coming years, with Houses moving temporarily to the former New House for the period of the refurbishment, will mean that other pupils across the School will have the chance to benefit from all it offers.

Will New House staff and pupils all move to the new boarding House?   

The whole New House community will move. Given the time required to construct a boarding House, we anticipate that the first girls into the new build will be the 2022 Third Form cohort. In the interim, the New House community, led by Housemistress Caroline Rees, will be pivotal to the designs of both the building and its gardens, helping ensure that the new environment both reflects and amplifies all that is special about the current House.

Enhancing 11+ boarding and day provision

Why is a bespoke model for junior boarding being considered?

We are fully committed to a full boarding ethos and the opportunities that this offers pupils, especially at weekends when the boarding community is all in School other than on fixed exeats. We are, however, responsive to the 4-18 continuum and to children developing at different stages. An 11-year-old is different from a 13-year-old and we must provide an experience for our youngest pupils that offers an appropriate pace of life and expectation of independence, especially within the environment of what is a full and busy School life at Oundle. In so doing, we will create the best possible springboard for full boarding at 13+. Further details on what this model will look like, including any changes to timetabling, will be published in the 2022 academic year for a September 2023 start.

Where is the space for Scott House being created and what will it be used for?

 The space will be ready for use in September 2022 and constitutes the barn building currently adjoining Scott House. Work is commencing this Summer term. The additional space is not for a single specific purpose but to allow the whole of Scott House to flow better, with more space for everything that it provides for our pupils.

How will the extra space in Scott House impact our 11+ day intake?

Scott House requires extra space and with this comes the opportunity to increase capacity, which in turn will ensure and safeguard a diverse day entry at 11+. From 2022, we will be able to welcome a larger number of pupils from other local schools finishing in Y6. This will not only offer a more diverse experience and enhanced social dynamic for our LJS pupils, many of whom will have been together as a group since Reception, but enable us to guarantee a specific and significant number of places for external day pupils.

Modernising our offer for day children

How and when will the transformation of Laxton take place?

From September 2023, Laxton, the senior day House, will be remodelled pastorally into two discrete day Houses. This will facilitate the creation of two smaller communities, both co-educational, replicating the greater sense of home and nurture in our boarding Houses while also offering greater opportunity to represent the House across School life. Each House will have its own Hsm, Matron and Tutor team, with shared administrative support. Physical restructuring of the existing building will be completed for September 2024. Further details, including what this will mean for the current Laxton community, will be shared in due course.

 How will the apportioning of pupils and staff to the two senior day Houses be managed?

Details will be worked on over the next twelve months, in consultation with current parents in both Laxton and Scott House. Details will be published to all prospective parents within the same timeframe.

 What will the developments mean for the School roll?

Our identity as a School is defined by our full boarding ethos and the opportunities that this offers our pupils. A commitment to quality and retaining control of our market are both central to our strategic plan and we must ensure that the School is the right size and shape for those who would thrive at Oundle. Demand for boarding remains strong but we must equally ensure we are in a strong position to respond effectively and carefully to increased demand for day places. Planned adjustments in line with both current and future market conditions will result in the School moving towards a 70:30 proportion of day pupils:boarders over the next decade, from the current 75:25 ratio.

Our financial responsibility

Are the developments affordable given the current economic climate?

Yes. Financial modelling over the next ten years gives us confidence that we can afford this, with adverse commercial scenarios also considered. Capital investment in the School secures its future by ensuring we can maintain control of our market and continue to offer the very best of 21st century boarding and day education.

Will the developments impact upon fees?

Investment in the School always forms part of the annual fee-setting picture and does not artificially increase fees. All the developments will be funded through a restructure of our current borrowing and a reframing of our reserves policy, together with targeted fund-raising, legacy funding and curation of our assets. No further borrowing will be undertaken.

Operational expenditure will continue to be under close review, along with the School’s ongoing initiatives to make best use of the Estate through its commercial operation.  Together, these initiatives will ensure that Oundle remains competitive and resilient in a challenging market.

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