Reading School

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Reading School
Reading School logo Official-2021.svg
Reading School Main Building Side View.jpg
Reading School
Reading School
Erleigh Road

, ,

United Kingdom
Coordinates 51°26′54″N0°57′18″W / 51.44833°N 0.95500°W / 51.44833; -0.95500 Coordinates: 51°26′54″N0°57′18″W / 51.44833°N 0.95500°W / 51.44833; -0.95500
MottoFloreat Redingensis
(Latin: May Reading [School] flourish)
Religious affiliation(s)previously Church of England
Established1125;897 years ago (1125)
1486 (refounding)
Founder Henry VII
Department for Education URN 136449 Tables
Ofsted Reports
HeadmasterA M Robson
ChaplainC Evans
Age11to 18
  •   School (green)
  •   County (burgundy)
  •   East (pink/cerise)
  •   West (yellow/gold)
  •   Laud (light blue)
Colour(s)Navy Blue, Silver
PublicationFloreat Redingensis
Boarding houses
  • East Wing
  • South House
Former pupils Old Redingensians

Reading School is a selective grammar school for boys with academy status in the English town of Reading, the county 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. Reading is one of the best state schools in the UK according to the GCSE and A-level tables and has consistently ranked in the top ten. [1] [2]



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. [3]

The Founder, King Henry VII of England Enrique VII de Inglaterra, por un artista anonimo.jpg
The Founder, King Henry VII of England

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. [4] [5]

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 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 Prince of Wales Edward VII, as a freemason, setting the chief stone of the new grammar school at Reading Prince of Wales Laying Reading Grammar School 1.jpg
The Prince of Wales Edward VII, as a freemason, setting the chief stone of the new grammar school at Reading

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 (who also designed the Natural History Museum, London), was laid by the Prince of Wales Edward VII 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.[ citation needed ]

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 in England and Wales, but 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.[ citation needed ]

In 1986 the school celebrated the quincentenary of its refounding, and was graced by a visit by Queen Elizabeth II.[ citation needed ] 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. [6] 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.

School site

Reading School Bird's Eye View 1.png
The Reading School site from above.
Picture of Reading School.jpg
The Reading School Main Building.
The Philip Mitchell Science Centre, Reading School Philip Mitchell Science Centre.png
The Philip Mitchell Science Centre, 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. [7] [8] [9] [10]

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.

Plans have been developed for improved sports and science facilities as part of the "1125 campaign". Work on improving science facilities began in 2015 and was completed in Spring 2017 as stated above. Work on the new sports facilities has begun, with a new fitness suite made on the location of the old squash courts next to chapel, and refurbishments on the gym and changing rooms completed. [11]

The Chapel, Reading School, c. 1873.jpg
The Chapel, Reading School, c. 1873
Reading School Chapel Outside 1.png
Outside The Chapel, Reading School
Reading School Chapel Sun 1.png
The Chapel Interior, Reading School


Notable "Old Redingensians" (former students)

Deceased Old Redingensians (chronological order)

NameYear of birthYear of deathNotable achievements
Sir Thomas White 14921567Founder of St John's College, Oxford and Lord Mayor of London in 1553
Sir Francis Moore 15591621 MP for Reading
John Blagrave c.15611611Mathematician
William Laud 15731645Chancellor of the University of Oxford 1629–1645, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1633–1645, beheaded in 1645 during the Civil War
John Kendrick 15731624Elizabethan/Jacobean merchant and philanthropist
Daniel Blagrave 16031668 MP for Reading, Regicide (signatory of the death warrant of Charles I in 1649). Escaped to exile in Aachen at the Restoration in 1660
Sir Constantine Phipps 16561723 Lord Chancellor of Ireland (1710–1714)
Henry Vansittart 17321770 Governor of Bengal (1759–1764)
Francis Annesley 17341812 MP for Reading (1774–1806), First Master of Downing College, Cambridge
Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth [12] 17571844 MP, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1801–1804), [13] Chancellor of the Exchequer (1801–1804), Lord President of the Council (1805, 1806–1807, 1812), Home Secretary (1812–1822)
Henry Bright 17841869 MP for Bristol (1820–1830)
Thomas Noon Talfourd 17951854 MP for Reading (1835–1841, 1847–49), Judge and writer
Admiral Sir Charles Elliot KCB18011875British Royal Navy officer, diplomat and colonial administrator. Chief Superintendent of British Trade in China (1836–41), first Administrator of Hong Kong (1841), Governor of Bermuda (1846–54), Governor of Trinidad (1854–56), and Governor of Saint Helena (1863–70).
Horace William Wheelwright 18151865Lawyer, hunter, naturalist and writer
Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt 18171893Politician and a father of the Canadian Confederation, Member of the Canadian Parliament (1867–72), Inspector General of Canada, Canadian Minister of Finance (1867), Canadian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (1880–83). Founder of the Alberta Railway and Coal Company and founding president of The Guarantee Company of North America.
Captain Hastings Harington 18321861Awarded the Victoria Cross as a lieutenant with the Bengal Artillery for conspicuous gallantry in the relief of Lucknow, 1857; died at Agra having achieved the rank of captain.
Joseph Wells 18551929Warden of Wadham College, Oxford 1913–1927, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford 1923–1926
Robert Hedley 18571884English soldier and footballer, who captained the Royal Engineers team in the 1878 FA Cup Final. He was a centre-forward and was called up to the England squad against Scotland in 1878 and 1879.
General Sir Havelock Hudson GCB, KCIE18621944 British Indian Army officer, commanded 8th Infantry Division during World War I. Member of the Council of India.
Lionel Cripps CMG18631950First Speaker of the Parliament of Southern Rhodesia
Sir Hugh Percy Allen 18691946Director of the Royal College of Music, Professor of Music in the University of Oxford
Herbert Leader Hawkins FRS (elected 1937)18871968President of the Palaeontological Society, professor of palaeontology, University of Reading, authority on sea urchins
Major-General Charles Fullbrook-Leggatt CBE, DSO, MC18891972British army officer who served in both World Wars. Commanded the 61st Infantry Division
William Costin 18931970President of St John's College, Oxford, Proctor of Oxford University.
Major General David Tennant Cowan CB, CBE, DSO & Bar, MC18961983British Army Officer in World War I and World War II. Led the 17th Indian Infantry Division during the Burma campaign.
Dom Christopher Butler O.S.B 19021986A Benedictine Monk of Downside Abbey, Languages Scholar, Historian, Scripture Scholar, Theologian, Catholic Priest, Abbot of Downside, Abbot Primate of the English Benedictine Congregation, Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Westminster, and the most prominent English reformer at the Second Vatican Council.
Arthur Negus OBE19031985 Broadcaster and antiques expert
Malcolm Fewtrell 19092005Detective Chief Superintendent who led the initial investigation into the Great Train Robbery in 1963.
Norman Gash CBE19122009Vice-Principal of the University of St Andrews (1967–1971). Historian, professor of modern history, who wrote a two-volume biography of Sir Robert Peel.
John Boulting 19131985Film director and producer known for a popular series of satirical comedies in the 1950s and 1960s along with his brother, Roy Boulting.
Roy Boulting 19132001Film director and producer known for a popular series of satirical comedies in the 1950s and 1960s along with his brother, John Boulting.
Horace Edgar "Tom" Dollery 19141987England national cricketer and Warwickshire county cricket captain.
Basil Lam 19141984Early Music scholar, harpsichordist, Head of Classical Music for BBC
John Minton 19171957Artist, lecturer and teacher
George William Series FRS19201995Physicist, notable for his work on the optical spectroscopy of hydrogen atoms; Professor of Physics, Reading University (1968–1982)
Sir Clifford Charles Butler FRS19221999Physicist, best known as the co-discoverer of hyperons and mesons, Vice-Chancellor of Loughborough University (1975–1985)
Sir Douglas Lowe GCB, DFC, AFC19222018Pilot, Air Chief Marshal in the Royal Air Force
J. L. Ackrill 19212007Professor of Classics at the University of Oxford. Philosopher and classicist, specialising in Ancient Greek philosophy.
Sir Richard Body 19272018MP (1955–1959, 1966–2001), President of the Anti-Common Market League
Lord Roper of Thorney Island 19352016 MP for Farnworth (1970–1983), House of Lords Chief Whip, Liberal Democrats (2001–2005).
Sir Clive Sinclair 19402021Entrepreneur and inventor.
Lord McKenzie of Luton 19462021 Member of the House of Lords (2004–2021).

Living Old Redingensians (alphabetical order)

NameYear of birthNotable achievements
Paul Badham 1942Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Lampeter, Director of the Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre
George W. Bernard 1950Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Southampton
Roderick Campbell 1953Lawyer, Former MSP (2011–2016)
Ross Brawn 1954Former 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.
Jonathan Davies 1994International middle and long distance runner. Double 2017 Universiade medalist (1500m and 5000m) and 2019 European Cross-Country champion (mixed relay).
Mark Field 1964Former MP (2001–2019) – Shadow Minister for London (2003–05), Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury (2005), Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport (2005–06), Vice Chairman (International) of the Conservative Party (2016–17), Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific (2017–19).
Damian Green 1956 MP (1997–) – Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Skills (2001–03), Shadow Secretary of State for Transport (2003–04), Shadow Minister of State for Immigration (2005–10), Minister of State for Immigration (2010–12), Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice (2012–2014), Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (2016–2017), First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office (2017) [14] Chairman of the One Nation Conservative Caucus (2019–)
Sir Oliver Heald 1954 MP (1992–) – Shadow Leader of the House of Commons (2003–05), Shadow Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Justice) (2004–07), Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (2005–07) Solicitor General for England and Wales (2012–2014), Minister of State for Courts and Justice (2016–17)
Ben Loader 1998 London Irish Rugby player, England U20 International
Robert Ladislav Parker 1942Geophysicist and mathematician, Professor Emeritus of Geophysics, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California
Christopher Renshaw 1951Theatre and Musical Director
Andrew Smith 1952Former MP (1987–2017) – Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury (1994–96), Shadow Secretary of State for Transport (1996–97), Minister of State for Disability and Employment Rights (1997–99), Chief Secretary to the Treasury (1999–2002), Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (2002–2004)
David Warburton 1965 MP (2015–), composer and businessman
Nigel David "Sharkey" Ward DSC, AFC1943Former Royal Navy officer and fighter pilot who commanded 801 Naval Air Squadron during the 1982 Falklands War.
Edward Young 1966 Private Secretary to the Sovereign (2017–), Deputy Private Secretary to the Sovereign (2007–17), Executive at Barclays Bank and Granada PLC.

Notable headmasters

Dr. Richard Valpy by Samuel Dixon, St Laurence's Church, Reading (Roche Abbey stone) Dr. Richard Valpy by Samual Dixon, St. Lawrence Church, Reading, England.jpg
Dr. Richard Valpy by Samuel Dixon, St Laurence's Church, Reading (Roche Abbey stone)

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. [17] 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.

In 2005 the school was awarded the 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. [18] 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. [19]

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". [20] In July 2011, the school was further identified by the Sutton Trust as the third highest 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. [21]

Reading School was given the "State School of the Year" award by The Sunday Times newspaper in 2010 and 2019, in recognition of the school's academic achievements and community orientated ethos. [22]

Subjects taught

SubjectTaught at KS3 Taught at KS4 Taught at Sixth Form
Ancient History
Classical Civilisation
Compulsory [1] YesYes
Art CompulsoryYesYes
Biology CompulsoryCompulsoryYes
Chemistry CompulsoryCompulsoryYes
Computer Science CompulsoryYesYes
Theatre Studies
Economics NoYesYes
Electronics NoYesNo
English CompulsoryCompulsory (GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature) Literature only
French Compulsory in Year 7 [2] Yes [3] Yes
Geography CompulsoryYesYes
German Compulsory in Year 7 [2] Yes [3] Yes
History CompulsoryYesYes
Latin Compulsory [1] [2] Yes [3] Yes
Mandarin Chinese Yes [2]
Mathematics [4] CompulsoryCompulsoryYes (A-Level Mathematics and Further Mathematics offered)
Music CompulsoryYesYes
Religious Studies
Compulsory (as Religious Studies)Compulsory [5] No
Physical Education CompulsoryYes [6] Yes [6]
Physics CompulsoryCompulsoryYes
PSHE [7] CompulsoryCompulsoryCompulsory
Spanish Compulsory in Year 7 [2] Yes [3] Yes
Floreat (Student Leadership) [7] CompulsoryYesNo

1. ^ ^ Latin is compulsory until Year 9, where the lower sets do Ancient History instead. Those who didn't choose to do Latin for GCSE can choose to do Ancient History instead, for the remainder of Year 9.

2. ^ ^ ^ ^ French, German, Spanish and Latin are compulsory in Year 7, while Mandarin can be chosen to replace a language except Latin. In Year 8 students must take 2 modern languages and Latin.

3. ^ ^ ^ ^ At least one ancient or modern language must be taken for the GCSEs.

4. ^ Additional Maths is taken by some students at the same time as their GCSEs. Further Maths is optional at A Level, with some students being able to take it in one block with Maths.

5. ^ The top half of the year take an externally-assessed AS-level Philosophy exam at the end of Year 10. Those who score a B or higher can either opt-out of the subject, continue onto the A2 or redo the exam the following year. Those who didn't score a B or higher can redo the exam the following year. The rest of the year will take an externally-assessed GCSE short course RS exam at the end of Year 11, though some exceptions can take the AS Philosophy exam instead.

6. ^ ^ 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.

7. ^ ^ Not examined.

See also

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  2. "Parent Power 2022: Best UK schools guide and league table".
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  7. Main school building, Images of England reference no. 38922
  8. Lecture Theatre at Reading School, Images of England reference no. 38923
  9. South House, Images of England reference no. 38924
  10. Building to the east of South House, Images of England reference no. 38925
  11. Student
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  19. Case Study. Video Broadcast over the Network at Reading School (PDF) Archived 13 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine
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Further reading