The Oratory School motto of “Cor ad cor loquitur” (heart speaking to heart) is John Henry Newman’s own, taken from his Cardinal’s Coat of Arms.
“I could add my own motto of ‘a busy boy is a happy boy’!” says the present Headmaster, Clive Dytor MA(Cantab) and MA(Oxon). “Boys need a particular approach to help them achieve their academic potential within their overall personal growth. Girls outperform boys on many levels and a school dedicated to boys-only can concentrate on boys’ strengths – and weaknesses!”
The Oratory School came into being on 1st May 1859. It was founded by Blessed John Henry Newman, at the request of a group of eminent Catholic laymen of the time, in order to provide a boarding school for boys run on English public school principles for the small English Catholic community. Newman was closely involved with the school during its first thirty years, and it remained attached to the house of the Oratory Fathers in Birmingham until 1922, when it moved to what is now the BBC Monitoring Station at Caversham Park, Reading. The Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory handed over control of the School to a Governing Body in 1931, but links with the London and Oxford Oratories, as well as with the one at Birmingham, remain strong. To escape Nazi bombing of city centers during World War II, the School moved in 1942, to settle finally on its present site at Woodcote, South Oxfordshire, some 40 miles west of London.
“We embody and practise today our Founder’s spiritual, moral and educational principles, which are just as relevant at the beginning of the twenty-first century as they were when he imbued his School with them. Each individual is to be valued for his own sake; the system should be there to support the needs of the individual, not vice versa. In this way a person’s dignity and sense of self-worth are respected in the way that they should be; as a result they will be more at ease in the society in which they find themselves and more willing to accept the necessary constraints of that society. Furthermore if each individual is regarded as special, then his special needs and gifts will be given proper respect and attention.
“The pastoral welfare of the boys in the School, the relationships with their families, the continuing contact with past pupils – all these, therefore, are central to the ethos of Newman’s educational vision.”