Our Lady's Abingdon - Parent FAQs

Parent FAQs

Below we have collected together all of the most common questions we receive about OLA from prospective parents. If you have additional questions please get in touch: admissions@ola.org.uk, telephone 01235 544808.

Can I see the latest ISI and Catholic Schools inspection report to evaluate school progress?

Our last full inspection, Compliance and Educational Quality was in May 2023.   Please find a copy on our Inspection Reports page

The Catholic Schools inspection is due this year and will be updated on the Inspection Reports page.

School leagues tables – is the school performing consistently over years?

At OLA the focus is on helping each child reach their full potential rather than selecting children who will help the school achieve high ranking in league tables. The measure we ask parents to consider is the value-added OLA brings to a child’s education helping them to develop academically and achieve beyond their baseline predictions. The OLA value-added score is in the top 5% of schools in England.

What is the child-to-teacher ratio?

Small class sizes is another stand out reason why parents and pupils choose OLA.  Average class sizes are 16, with 9 for GCSE Options and many subject set sizes are smaller than this. In OLA 6th set sizes are smaller still. Small class sizes across the school enables our staff to build individual relationships with each pupil with the aim of helping them to develop academically, exceed their baseline predictions and shine as individuals.

How many staff with children send their children to the school?

Currently eleven members of staff have children at OLA.

What is the average girl/boy ratio across the school?

The average ratio in the Lower School is usually around: girls 48%, boys 52%. The average ratio in the Senior School is usually around: girls 44%, boys 56%.

Does your Lower School provide early morning and after school care?

Yes, our Lower School opens at 8.00am and closes for after school care at 5.30pm.

Does the school provide lunch – and if so, what’s it like?

All catering including lunch at OLA, is supplied by an external company CH&CO. All food is cooked on site daily, with all dietary requirements being catered for. The menu works on a three week cycle each term and parents and pupils are encouraged to use feedback cards to provide their thoughts on the meals offered to ensure food satisfaction.

Are there lunch and after school clubs?

There is a vast range of co-curricular clubs running in the Lower and Senior School at lunch. Clubs include in addition to Music, Drama, Art and Sport clubs we offer more diverse clubs such as debating, coding, language, engineering and many STEM clubs. Support and extension clubs are also available. Being a small school enables our pupils to participate in whatever clubs they like and to have every opportunity to represent the school and further develop confidence in any and all activities they enjoy.

Will my child have the opportunity to take part in productions and music tours/concerts?

Yes, being a small school means pupils have a far greater opportunity to be involved in a vast range of Music and Drama opportunities. The Music Department arranges performances across the school year with a biannual music tour. Previous venues have included Barcelona, Venice and Edinburgh.

Find out more about the Music department here

There are annual, major public drama productions in both Lower and Senior school in addition to smaller scale events. Pupils in all year groups are encouraged to undertake LAMDA Acting examinations which require rehearsal and performance with our dedicated LAMDA teacher.

What are the sport facilities and equipment like?

OLA has its own professionally maintained sports field adjacent to the school. We also make use of the nearby Tilsley Park facilities for some sports. The Lower School has its own gym and there is a large Sports Hall used by all parts of the school. Netball and tennis courts are available in the main school grounds and OLA has its own indoor 25m heated swimming pool.

Is it possible for me to come into the school and meet with my child’s teacher or the head teacher at fairly short notice if I have any concerns or issues?

Yes, your child’s Form Tutor is the first point of contact for all concerns. Our Head of OLA, Head of KS2 Lower School and Head of OLA 6th are also available if required to help you address any concerns you may have.

Are children given a locker to put their stuff in?

Yes, all pupils have their own personal locker which they secure with their own key.

How do you support high or low achievers?

High achievers are supported by our McAuley Programme for more able pupils and Scholarships. Low achievers are supported through our system of tracking, reporting, parents’ evenings and pastoral care. Our excellent SEN department work very closely with teaching staff to provide the tools to motivate, engage and support our low achievers.

How does the school share information with parents?

The school shares information with parents through letters, email, Class Charts and the weekly eNewsletter, as well as through face to face and remote meetings. There is an active Parents’ Association. Class Charts also provides a very effective way for parents of new starters to make contact with other parents in their child’s class.

Is there a message system e.g. to notify parents about snow days?

Yes, we have a messaging system operated through Class Charts and ISAMS.

What IT facilities are available?

There are three IT rooms, as well as other IT facilities around the school all served by our recently updated IT system and computers. All Year 7 pupils joining the school are given a Microsoft surface-pro.

Does the school have a PTA?

OLA has had a committed and thriving parents’ association for decades. All parents of the OLA school community are automatically members of the OLA PA which is a registered charity run by parent volunteers.

The aims of OLA PA are to foster a close relationship between school and the OLA community through social events and fund raising. Over the years they have raised thousands of pounds towards items to enhance our pupils education alongside bringing the community together. They also run the invaluable 2nd Hand Uniform Shop selling pre-loved items of uniform.

The OLA PA also run Classlist, a secure online community for parents and families to keep in touch and share information. They welcome new members at any time.

Do you have any children’s comments about what they think of the school?

At what point are pupils put into ability-based sets and for which subjects?

Pupils are set by ability in Languages according to their Verbal Reasoning score achieved in their Entrance Assessment from the beginning of Year 7 and by November of Year 7 for Maths based on their in-class performance. In Year 8 pupils are put into ability sets in Science and English but remain in form groups for these subjects in Year 7. These groups are monitored regularly and, if necessary, there is usually flexibility for the pupil to be moved to different groups depending on how well they progress in the subject.

What languages are offered?

French, Spanish and Latin are offered. There is an Ancient Greek club. We can support speakers of other languages by giving them the opportunity to sit GCSE exams in their chosen language and we have previously supported Cantonese, Mandarin, Russian, Italian, German and Greek GCSE entries.

Is triple science offered?

Triple Science is taught to the higher sets at GCSE.

What happens if GCSE/A-level options ‘clash’? How accommodating is the school when this happens?

We do everything we can to avoid any clashes in GCSE and A-level options choices and are very flexible and accommodating regarding students choices.

What subjects do you offer at GCSE and A-level?

We offer 15 subjects at GCSE and 22 at A-level. You can find out more about these courses on the links below:

GCSE courses
A-level courses

Where do your students go when they leave?

Our students regularly achieve their first choice of university. Read our OLA 6th leavers destinations list.


Pupils are expected to complete homework every evening. The amount per year group increases as pupils move up the school with an average of 2-3 pieces set each day in Year 7.  Each piece of homework should take around 30-40 minutes to complete. Pupils and parents will be given a homework timetable to help manage their schedules.