Reading School

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Reading School
Reading School COA.JPG
Motto Floreat Redingensis
(Latin: May Reading [School] flourish)
Established 1125
1486 (refounding)
Type Grammar academy
Day and boarding school
Religion Church of England
Headmaster A M Robson
Chaplain G Cornelissen
Founder Henry VII
Location Erleigh Road
United Kingdom
DfE number 870/5401
DfE URN 136449 Tables
Ofsted Reports Pre-academy reports
Students 867
Gender Boys
Ages 11–18
Houses School: (green)
County: (magenta)
East: (pink/cerise)
West: (yellow/gold)
Laud: (light blue)
Colours Navy Blue, Silver
Publication Floreat Redingensis
Former pupils Old Redingensians

Reading School is a grammar school with academy status for boys in the English town of Reading, the county town of Berkshire. It traces its history back to the school of Reading Abbey, making it one of the oldest schools in England. There are no tuition fees for day pupils, and boarders only pay for food and lodging.


A view of Reading School from the drive
The Chapel, Reading School, c. 1873

Reading School was founded as part of Reading Abbey. The date of the Abbey's charter, 29 March 1125, is taken as the foundation date, making it the 10th oldest school in England, although there are hints that there may have been a school running in Reading before this.[1]

In 1486, the school was refounded as a "Free Grammar School" ("free" here meaning teaching the free, or liberal, arts, not that no fees were paid) by Henry VII on the urging of the then Abbot, John Thorne. From at least this time, the School was housed in the former Hospitium of St John. The main building of the hospitium still exists, but the refectory, which once housed the schoolroom, was demolished in 1785 and Reading Town Hall now stands on the site.[2][3]

After the dissolution of Reading Abbey in 1539, the school fell under the control of the corporation of Reading, its status being confirmed by Letters Patent issued by Henry VIII in 1541. This was reconfirmed in the Royal Charter granted to the corporation of Reading by Elizabeth I in 1560, which made the corporation liable for the salary of the headmaster and gave them the power of appointing him.

There were interruptions to schooling in 1665, when Parliament, forced out of London by the Great Plague, took over the schoolhouse. The civil war also interrupted, with the school being used as a garrison by royalist forces. The school prospered at the start of the nineteenth century but by 1866 disagreements between the town and school, which had become increasingly exclusive, and problems with the lease on the school buildings had led to falling numbers and the school closed briefly when (according to legend), the inspectors, on asking to see the school, were told "He's runned [sic] away".

The school soon restarted, however, with the Reading School Act (1867) setting out its administration and funding. The foundation stone for new buildings, designed by Alfred Waterhouse, was laid by the Prince of Wales in 1870, and in 1871 the school moved in. In 1915 Kendrick Boys' School (founded in 1875 from the legacy of John Kendrick), which had a large endowment but poor facilities, was taken over by Reading, which was poorly funded but had excellent facilities – this caused considerable controversy at the time but was ultimately seen as successful.

The 1944 Education Act saw the abolition of fees (apart from boarding charges), with the cost of education now being met by the local authority. The 1960s saw the rise of comprehensive education, which threatened Reading's status. However, Reading was exempted in 1973 (along with the girls' grammar school in Reading, Kendrick) after a petition of over 30,000 local people (a third of the voters of Reading) was handed to the government.

In 1986 the school celebrated the quincentenary of its refounding, and was graced by a visit by Queen Elizabeth II. A history of the school by Michael Naxton was published that year by Reading School Parents' Association.

On 6 July 2007 Reading School was officially designated as the landing site for the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance when it needs to transport patients to the nearby Royal Berkshire Hospital. Previously, seriously injured or ill patients from the Reading area had to be flown either to Wexham Park Hospital near Slough, or to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford for treatment. The new arrangement means that the school field can now be used for emergency touchdowns. Patients are transported by land ambulance from the school to the hospital's accident and emergency department across the road.[4] While this arrangement was only made official in 2007, the school field had been unofficially used on several occasions by the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance in previous years.

In 2016, it was confirmed that a new house would be introduced to cater for a fifth form in year 7 and the increase in admission numbers to 150. Laud house, named after William Laud, will have the colour light blue.

School site

A photo of the School, covered in snow, taken on 8 February 2007
The chapel at Reading School

The current school site consists of a main block (with two wings), a Science block, the Page building, the John Kendrick building, South House, Music School (formerly known as Junior School) and a chapel. The main school building, the chapel, South House and the building to the east of South House have all been designated as Grade II listed buildings by English Heritage.[5][6][7][8]

The main block consists of 11 teaching rooms, as well as most of the school's administrative rooms. The classrooms here are mainly used to teach English, Economics, Business Studies, Classics, Latin and Ancient Greek; but the two Drama studios are used exclusively for Drama. The block is built around a central quadrangle, with the main teaching rooms down the east side, and the Drama studios to the west. Over the northern entrance to the 'quad' is Big School, the school hall. There are also two wings: East Wing and West Wing. East Wing serves as a boarding house, while West Wing houses the staff room, sixth form common room, administrative entrance and reception, the newly renamed 'Middleton room' (ICT suite) and Religious Studies department.

The Science block, situated on the south-east of the site, is currently being refurbished, and currently contains two brand new computing rooms, as well as three Physics labs, three Biology labs and three Chemistry labs. The old Lecture Theatre has recently been fully refurbished.

South House is a boarding house, although it also contains four teaching rooms and the 'Eppstein room', which functions as a secondary Mathematics office.

The Page Building, located between South House and the Science block, contains two Art rooms, two Computer Science labs (which are also used as electronics labs), three Mathematics rooms, the main Mathematics office and an IT suite.

The John Kendrick building, opened in 2002, is to the west of the site, housing the Learning Resource Centre (Library), two Geography rooms, two History rooms and four language classrooms. The adjoined 'Coach House' contains another Geography room, a History room, and two offices.

The Chapel is where the school's Christmas, Remembrance and Easter services take place, and every student attends once a week. The Chapel has four groups of pews, facing towards the central aisle. Above the entrance is the organ, and at the far end is the altar and vestry.

Music School (formerly Junior School) has a teaching room, a keyboard room, a hall (used for orchestra and choir practices) and four smaller individual teaching rooms (used for individual music lessons). The school currently also uses the back area of Music School for art lessons. The building is situated at the far end of the drive, on the left of the main entrance.

Plans have also been developed for improved sports and science facilities as part of the 1125 campaign. Work on improving science facilities began in 2015. The old Chemistry laboratories have been demolished, with work on creating a two storey structure in its place underway.

School Terrace

A picture of Reading School

Inspections and awards

An OFSTED report[when?] concluded that "examination results place the school in the top five per cent nationally", "Pupils' attitudes to learning are outstanding" and "The school goes to exceptional lengths to broaden and enrich the education of all pupils". The 2005 Key Stage 3 results were both the best in the country for value-added and for the average points score of each student.[9] In the 2004 school league tables for England (including fee-paying schools), it came eighth for GCSE-level results (average 602.5 points), 106th for A-level results (average 409.3 points) and 170th for value-added between ages 11 and 16 (score of 1037.7 compared with a baseline of 1000).[citation needed] It has recently become a DFES specialist school for the Humanities, specialising in English,[citation needed] Geography and Classics – the first school to specialise in Classics – despite entry being selected by Mathematics and verbal and non-verbal logic ability. The School prides itself on offering A-Level Latin to any student who has an interest in studying the subject. The School will also offer Ancient Greek if numbers permit.

In 2005 the school was awarded the highly prestigious Sportsmark gold award for a four-year period. In the same year Reading was one of just 35 schools nationally to be made a Microsoft Partner School.[10] Reading School has had a partnership with Akhter Computers in Harlow, Essex, since 1998. The company has installed networks throughout the school and in the boarding house. It has also furnished the library with a special system which enables the school to record, edit and distribute video across the network.[11]

In 2007, the school was identified by the Sutton Trust as one of only 20 state schools among the 100 schools in the UK responsible for a third of admissions to Oxford and Cambridge Universities over the five preceding years. 16.0% of pupils went to Oxbridge and a 62.1% in total went to universities identified by the Sutton Trust as "top universities".[12] In July 2011, the school was further identified by the Sutton Trust as the third best state school, and among the top 30 schools in the country, for proportion of higher education applicants accepted at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The report found that 16.7% of pupils were accepted to Oxbridge and 81.5% were accepted to the highly selective Sutton Trust 30 universities over the previous three years.[13]

Reading School was given the prestigious "State School of the Year" award by The Sunday Times newspaper in 2010, in recognition of the school's academic achievements and community orientated ethos.[14]

Subjects taught

Subject Taught at KS3 Taught at GCSE Taught at A level
Classical Greek No No No
Art Compulsory Yes Yes
Biology Compulsory Compulsory Yes
Business Studies No No No
Chemistry Compulsory Compulsory Yes
Classical Civilisation Taught in KS3 as part of Classics (Compulsory) Yes If demand is sufficient
Computer Science Compulsory Yes Yes
Drama Compulsory Yes Yes
Economics No Yes Yes
Electronics Compulsory during "Computer Science" lessons Yes No
English Compulsory Compulsory Yes
French Compulsory Yes (one language must be chosen) Yes
Geography Compulsory Yes Yes
German Not taught in Year 7; Year 8 students must choose German or Spanish Yes (one language must be chosen) Yes
History Compulsory Yes Yes
ICT No No No
Latin Compulsory until year 9 where lower sets do classical civilization. Yes (Can now be taken as only language) Yes
Mandarin Chinese No No If demand is sufficient
Mathematics* Compulsory Compulsory Yes
Music Compulsory Yes Yes
Physical Education Compulsory Yes** Yes**
Physics Compulsory Compulsory Yes
PSHE Year 7 (though taught in tutor groups in years 8 and 9) Yes Yes (twice per term)
Religious Studies Compulsory Compulsory As an extra-curricular option
Spanish Taught in Year 7; Year 8 students must choose German or Spanish Yes (one language must be chosen) No

*Additional Maths is taken by some students at the same time as GCSEs. Further Maths is optional at A Level.

**In the sixth form, P.E. can optionally be taken as an examined A-Level. Those that do not do this must still take part in games weekly, though this is not examined or graded in any way, or must take part in Community Service during Games lessons. In Years 10 and 11, certain students are given the option of taking the GCSE as an additional subject. All other students must still complete Games lessons twice a week.

Notable headmasters

  • c.1540 Leonard Coxe
  • c.1555 Julian Palmer (1533–1556) Protestant martyr
  • 1716–1750 Haviland Hiley
  • 1781–1830 Dr Richard Valpy (1754–1836)
  • 1830–1839 Rev. Francis Edward Jackson Valpy (1797-1882), son of Dr Richard Valpy
  • 1871–1877 Thomas Henry Stokoe
  • 1894–1914 William Charles Eppstein
  • 1914–1939 George Keeton
  • 1939–1966 Charles Kemp

Notable "Old Redingensians" (former students)

Deceased Old Redingensians (chronological order)

Name Year of birth Year of death Notable achievements
Sir Thomas White 1492 1567 Founder of St John's College, Oxford and Lord Mayor of London in 1553
Sir Francis Moore 1559 1621 MP for Reading
John Blagrave c.1561 1611 Mathematician
William Laud 1573 1645 Chancellor of the University of Oxford 1629–1645, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1633–1645, beheaded in 1645 during the Civil War
John Kendrick 1573 1624 Elizabethan/Jacobean merchant and philanthropist
Daniel Blagrave 1603 1668 Regicide (signatory of the death warrant of Charles I in 1649). Escaped to exile in Aachen at the Restoration in 1660
Sir Thomas Stampe (or Stamp) Lord Mayor of the City of London in 1691
Sir Constantine Phipps 1656 1723 Lord Chancellor of Ireland
Thomas Noon Talfourd 1795 1854 Judge and writer
Horace William Wheelwright 1815 1865 Lawyer, hunter, naturalist and writer
Captain Hastings Harington 1832 1861 Awarded the Victoria Cross as a lieutenant with the Bengal Artillery for conspicuous gallantry in the relief of Lucknow, 1857; died at Agra
Joseph Wells 1855 1929 Warden of Wadham College, Oxford 1913–1927, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford 1923–1926
William Norman Rae 1886 1964 Professor of chemistry, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Herbert Leader Hawkins FRS (elected 1937) 1887 1968 President of the Palaeontological Society, professor of palaeontology, University of Reading, authority on sea urchins
Arthur Negus 1903 1985 Broadcaster and antiques expert
Norman Gash 1912 2009 Historian, professor of modern history, University of St Andrews
John Boulting &

Roy Boulting





Film directors and producers
Horace Edgar "Tom" Dollery 1914 1987 Warwickshire and England cricketer
John Minton 1917 1957 Artist, lecturer and teacher
George William Series FRS (elected 1971) 1920 1995 Physicist, professor of physics, University of Reading
Sir Clifford Charles Butler 1922 1999 Physicist, co-discoverer of hyperons and mesons
Lord Roper of Thorney Island 1935 2016 Politician

Living Old Redingensians (alphabetical order)

Name Year of birth Notable achievements
Paul Badham 1942 Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Lampeter, Director of the Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre
Ross Brawn 1954 Former Technical Director of Benetton and Ferrari Formula 1 teams, former Team Principal of Honda F1, former owner of Brawn GP, former Team Principal of Mercedes Grand Prix and currently Formula One Managing Director of Motorsports.
Mark Field 1964 MPSolicitor-General to HM Government.
Damian Green 1956 Former business editor for Channel 4, MP - mid-ranking Home Office Minister (2010-14), Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (2016-)
Oliver Heald 1954 MP – former Shadow Constitutional Affairs Secretary
Christopher Renshaw 1951 Theatre Director
Andrew Smith 1952 MP – former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and former Chief Secretary to the Treasury
David Warburton 1965 MP, composer and businessman


  • Michael Naxton. The History of Reading School. Ringwood, Hampshire: Pardy Printers, 1986.
  • John Oakes and Martin Parsons. Reading School: The First 800 Years. Peterborough: DSM, 2005. ISBN 0-9547229-2-2.
  • John Oakes and Martin Parsons. Old School Ties: Educating for Empire and War. Peterborough: DSM, 2001. ISBN 0-9536516-6-5. (The stories of Old Redingsians in World War I)
  • A History of Cricket at Reading School, 1987.

See also


  1. ^ Michael Naxton (1986). The History of Reading School. Ringwood, Hampshire: Pardy Printers. 
  2. ^ Phillips, Daphne (1980). The Story of Reading. Countryside Books. p. 42. ISBN 0-905392-07-8. 
  3. ^ Phillips, Daphne (1980). The Story of Reading. Countryside Books. p. 88. ISBN 0-905392-07-8. 
  4. ^ Reading School – "New Landing Site for Air Ambulance". The South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust
  5. ^ Main school building, Images of England reference no. 38922
  6. ^ Lecture Theatre at Reading School, Images of England reference no. 38923
  7. ^ South House, Images of England reference no. 38924
  8. ^ Building to the east of South House, Images of England reference no. 38925
  9. ^ "Grammar boys are simply the best". Reading Evening Post. 2006-03-30. 
  10. ^ Andrew Linnell. The Headmaster's Letter. The Old Redingensian, May 2005, p2 (PDF).
  11. ^ Case Study. Video Broadcast over the Network at Reading School (PDF)
  12. ^ "University Admissions by Individual Schools" (PDF). Sutton Trust. 2007. 
  13. ^ "Degrees of Success - University Chances by Individual School" (PDF). Sutton Trust. 2011. 
  14. ^ "Schools of the Year - State Secondary School of the Year 2010". The Sunday Times. 2010. 

External links

  • Reading School
  • Reading School Parents' Association
  • Old Redingensians
  • School overview and profile from Schoolsfinder

Coordinates: 51°26′54″N 0°57′18″W / 51.44833°N 0.95500°W / 51.44833; -0.95500

Retrieved from ""
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia :
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Reading School"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA