St Barnabas’ Primary School, Oxford was founded as a Church School in 1854 by St Barnabas Parish and is now financed by the Oxfordshire County Council in partnership with the Diocese of Oxford, which is part of the Church of England.

The school moved to its present site in 1977. It was designed as a modern open-plan building, consisting of four teaching areas and a purpose-built nursery unit grouped around a central atrium-playground. Four new classrooms were added in 2002 together with new offices and a computer room to enable the school to become a full primary school in September 2003. There are two hard-surfaced playgrounds and a playing field. The hall and dining area were specifically designed for community use as well as school use.

St Barnabas’ School serves the community of Jericho and the area immediately to the north of the city centre. The school has a lively and involved PTA and good links with the parish church of St Barnabas and the community. We welcome children of all nationalities, ethnic groups, religions and world views. We regard the range of languages and the knowledge of other cultures within the school as a positive asset in our approach to a multi-cultural education.

Stained Glass Windows

The stained glass windows (illustrated at the top of this page) were created in 2006. The school were able to have the windows as an ex Chair of Governors Peter Corlett (See article below for more information on Peter Corlett.) left a generous donation.

The windows reflect the important link to St Barnabas’ Church and the diversity of the local Jericho community.


The Tudor Rose Emblem for St Barnabas

The emblem for St Barnabas’, among other things, is a shield shape with three rows of roses on it; the first row is of three silver Tudor roses on a red field, the second row two red roses on a silver field and the third is a single silver rose on a red field.  In past times, clerks would celebrate St Barnabas’ day by making garlands of roses to wear and in Germany houses were decorated with ‘Barnaby’ garlands.  This is likely to be linked to the time of year for St Barnabas’ day, 11th June.

When I was a pupil at St Barnabas’, we always went to church on St Barnabas’ day and we always wore red roses.  My Gran would make sure that there was a rose or two in her garden and I would visit here before going to school to have my buttonhole pinned on me.  After church we had the rest of the day off.

St Barnabas isn’t officially an apostle, he wasn’t one of the original 12, but his association with St Paul has meant that he has been given this status.  As he travelled with Paul to spread the word and establish the early church, his statutes show him carrying a large book and a staff.  When St Barnabas parish was created out of the parish of St Thomas (down by the station), St Paul’s was already in existence, so the new church was dedicated to St Barnabas’ in recognition of the partnership of Barnabas’ and Paul.

Mary Whitlock

Historical Information

The new St Barnabas’ First School in 1977

The Bishop of Oxford came to open the school. The event was reported on in the local papers.

Mr Penrose was Headteacher when the school  opened.

The Headteacher was Mr Penfold. from 30.04.73 – 31.08.85

John Purves (acting) Headteacher 01.09.1985 – 31.08.86

Keith Godfrey Headteacher 01.09.86 – 31.12.86

Hilary Hiorns Headteacher 01.01.87 – 31.08.02

Jane Thomas Headteacher 01.09.02 – 31.08.08

Fiona Hawkins Headteacher 01.09.08 – 31.08.19

Karen Donaghey Headteacher 01.09.19 – 31.08.22

Scott Lewis Interim Headteacher 01.09.22 – 31.08.2023

Beccy Harris Headteacher 01.09.2023


Building Work

The children at St Barnabas’ First School kept a record of the building work when the new school was built and opened in 1977. Two of the scrapbooks have been saved and are on display in the school.

Click on the images below to enlarge and open the scrolling gallery viewer:

Changes to the School

Throughout its time many changes have taken place with the school. New roofs across all of the old buildings in the Foundation Stage and KS1. The Nursery has been developed and now includes a disabled toilet. The school has been supported by the Diocese who have overseen all the building work.

Click on the images below to enlarge and open the scrolling gallery viewer:


The Playground

The field is very important in Jericho as after 4pm everyday it is shared with the community and during weekends and holidays. The field has had new equipment that is shared with the community a new climbing frame and trim trail, a table tennis table and a goal area. The PTA has worked tirelessly to raise funds for the trim trail and the climbing frame. The KS1 playground has a fabulous new climbing frame provided by the PTA.

Pictures below, from 1982, show the tortoise and snake that are still here today.

July 2019 – Sarah Fletcher has wonderfully repainted our snake and tortoise and the children are enjoying playing on them again. In 1981 St Barnabas’ School had a competition to design a playground sculpture. The winner was Sam Jones. The snake and tortoise were built by Class Two with their teacher Liz Burchfield. Sam who went on to become an artist/graphic designer sadly died in 2018 aged 44, but he will be remembered for creating something that has been played on by St Barnabas’ pupils over the past 40 years, and will be continued to be enjoyed in future. Thank you to Sam and the children from Class 2.

In 1977 there were no trees around the school field, but today that is a very different story (black and white photo), there is a photo in the early days of the school just after the trees were planted.  The aerial photos were taken in 2002 and the trees have matured. Today we are grateful for the trees in summer as they provide a great deal of shade.

Click on the images below to enlarge and open the scrolling gallery viewer:

The Library

The pictures of the library below show it when the school opened in 1977 and how it is now. In 2021 the school was able to update the library with a significant donation towards the works made by a kind grandparent.

Click on the images below to enlarge and open the scrolling gallery viewer:

Peter Corlett 1931 – 2001

Although not born in Jericho, Peter became a Jericho person ‘by adoption’. When he retired from teaching for 35 years at St. Edward’s School he came to worship at St. Barnabas church and developed a great love of Jericho. After a few years he became Churchwarden and he was in that office when the appeal was launched to repair the tower. Peter devoted himself to this project and became ‘Clerk of Works’. The restored tower is something of a memorial to him. After retiring from the position of Churchwarden he was elected Chairman of the School Governors and threw himself wholeheartedly into the task giving great support to both staff and pupils. He could often be seen in Mrs Hiorns’ office on the phone to the Council in pursuit of a school improvement. Peter was infinitely kind and would help anyone in need, including supporting a family in Sheffield who wanted a better life for their children through education. In his spare time he played in the St Edwards’ school orchestra and wrote some of the earliest programmes for educational computer Maths games. Peter sadly died in January 2001, aged 69, after battling with cancer. One of his last acts was to send me flowers on the birth of my first child just a week earlier; kind and thoughtful to the end.

In his will Peter left a sum of money to St Barnabas’ school, some of which was used to purchase new staging for the hall, some spent over a number of years to fund building improvements, and some most obviously for the creation of the stained glass window in the foyer. This was devised and agreed by Peter’s sister, Pamela, and Fr Michael, Incumbent Vicar. It was dedicated and blessed in an unveiling ceremony in 2002, when the new wing of the school was opened as a Primary. The window reflects Peter’s belief that all people are equal in the sight of God, and his commitment to the multicultural nature and inclusive ethos of the school.

Peter’s ashes are in the memorial garden of St Barnabas church.

Jill Bentley

Chair of Governors 2001-2, 2011-16