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About Us

History of the School

The Oakham of today with its rich and balanced cosmopolitan community of 50:50 girls and boys, 50:50 boarders and day pupils has its roots in our past. Yet our 400-year heritage is only part of our story.

Oakham School was founded in 1584 by Archdeacon Robert Johnson and is in the heart of Oakham, the county town of Rutland. The Schoolmaster of the time taught local boys Greek, Latin and Hebrew. The buildings today provide a beautiful and historic backdrop to the town.

When Headmaster John Buchanan decided to introduce girls throughout the School in 1971, he transformed Oakham from a small regional boys’ school into one of the largest co-educational boarding and day schools in the country.

This spirit of innovation continues today as we embrace new technologies and ways of learning whilst respecting our traditions and remaining true to our core values.

Old School

The original school building, Old School was restored in the eighteenth century and remained the sole classroom for 300 years; it is still in use today. Inside Old School, there are some beautiful frescos, painted by the sister of W.L ‘Tom’ Sargant, Headmaster 1902-1929, which depict the story of Gareth and Lynette, probably taken from Tennyson’s ‘Idylls of the King’. They remain in situ and are protected by shutters.

The School Chapel

The School Chapel is, without doubt, an important and central part of School life today, with the weekly Chapel services and hymn practice (‘Congo’) raising the roof and filling the rafters with song. The Chapel was built as a memorial for the 70 Old Oakhamians who died in World War I. The foundation stone was laid in July 1924 and the Chapel was dedicated by the Bishop of Peterborough on 29 October 1925. The names of the 70 are listed in the Chapel entrance and a memorial to the 83 OOs who lost their lives in World War II is in the vestibule. Read more about the history of the Chapel.

The School Crest and Motto

The School colours are red and black and the School uniform is embroidered with the original School crest and ‘quasi cursores’ – an abbreviation of the full motto ‘Quasi cursores vitai lampada tradunt’ (Like runners, they pass on the torch of life).

Our motto perhaps sums up best how we view ourselves: we know what we owe to those who have gone before us, but we are constantly looking to the future and ways that we can pass on the light of human life and experience to those who will come after us.

The Archives

The Oakham School Archives provide a historical record of Oakham School and are available to Oakhamians past, present and future, as well as to members of the public.

Over the years we have been able to build up a fascinating collection of archive material: photos, essays, past editions of the Oakhamian magazine, items of school uniform, to name but a few.

If you would like to arrange a visit or have any questions, please feel free to contact the Archives on 01572 758 608 or by email at archivesuser@oakham.rutland.sch.uk.

To explore the Archives’ collections, please follow this link to our catalogue.

At a glance


In 1971, Oakham was the first boys’ independent secondary school to accept girls, and this was at all ages, not just Sixth Form.

IB Diploma

We were one of the first independent schools to introduce the IB Diploma in 2001 alongside A-levels.

IB MYP World School

In 2021 we received our official accreditation as an IB MYP World School to deliver international, interdisciplinary learning to pupils in Forms 1–3 (Years 7–9).