to Reading School
Reading School situated in the heart of Reading, is a selective grammar school for boys aged 11-18. A long and distinguished history provides the backdrop to a dynamic and forward thinking approach to modern day education.
Principal, John Weeds
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It is my pleasure to introduce you to Reading School. This website tries to capture what is special about the School. We have many features that we feel make us exceptional. Our antiquity distinguishes us. We are also one of the thirty state-maintained boarding schools. However it is the quality of what occurs within the School and the nature of our students that make us really proud.
We are conscious of our long and distinguished history. We try to protect and celebrate this, whilst sensibly implementing the best of current educational practice. We see the School as a specialist environment for the very able. In it we manage a process of teaching and learning that is designed to secure personal growth for all our students. Each is encouraged to develop and attain their potential. All members of the School community feel they have a key role in building an educational environment that stretches and stimulates our students without over-pressurising them.
We have a wide curriculum of examined and additional activities. The Teacher:Pupil ratio is good and classes are purposeful. The pace of teaching and learning is brisk and enjoyable. The School encourages learning without being precious or artificial and as a result the atmosphere in the School is positive and supportive.
These aspects of Reading School have received particular praise in our last inspection report. The full Inspection Report can be accessed on the OFSTED website via links on these pages.
I hope that you enjoy finding out about Reading School and that you can see what we have to offer and why we are proud to be associated with it. Please feel free to explore our website and if you still have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.
Mr John Weeds
Reading School is a selective state school located in Reading, Berkshire. We have around 800 pupils, whom are a mix of day boys and weekly boarders.
Find out about Reading School, past, present or future.
School policy documents are available to the public from the main school office.
Foundation of the School
On June 18th 1121 a delegation of eight monks from Cluny, France, arrived in Reading to begin preparations for the foundation of a new Abbey. On April 15th 1123, the first Abbot was appointed to oversee its construction, and the Foundation Charter was signed at Rouen two years later. It is the date of this Charter, 29 March 1125, that has been taken as the date for the foundation of Reading School. The School is proud to find its roots in the educational activities of the Abbey, which make Reading School the 10th oldest school in England.
Reading School has several times benefited from royal patronage. For King Henry III, the School was the ideal choice for a royal ward. His namesake, Henry VII, was enthusiastic about the Abbot's plans to convert the School into a Free Grammar School in 1486, and granted him a ten pound annual stipend. The same was granted by his son Henry VIII in Letters Patent issued in 1541. The seizure of Church lands and the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 had left Reading School in the hands of the Corporation of Reading, which refused to pay the Master of the School. It was Henry's love of learning that moved him to be one of the School's most important benefactors.
Another important benefactor was Henry's daughter, Elizabeth I, who was more than willing to honour the commitment to her father. The Queen granted Reading one of its most important charters on 23rd February 1560. The charter contained 62 clauses, two of which dealt with Reading School. They made the Corporation liable for the Master's salary and gave it the power to appoint him. This charter governed the School for the next three hundred years.
The Plague and Civil War
Less than a hundred years after Elizabeth's charter was granted, the country was struck by the plague. By 1625, the government had moved from London to Reading, and the School became the Court of Augmentations, giving the pupils an extra holiday. They had another extended break in 1642, when a Royalist army captured the town during the Civil War. A garrison commanded by Sir Arthur Aston prepared for a siege, and commandeered the schoolroom for use as arsenal and powder-magazine. Reading School, it seems, has always taken the sign of royalty, wise as to on which side its bread is buttered.
The School in the 18th and 19th Centuries
The School prospered in the eighteenth century under the leadership of its Master, R Valpy. In 1790, disgusted with the conditions in which he was expected to teach, Valpy used his own money to provide the pupils in his care with a new schoolroom. His skill in oration, and his commanding presence contributed to the School's fame, and in 1792 the number of pupils reached a peak of 119. Speech Day galas and celebrations to mark the triennial inspections became the highlights of the School year, the latter featuring plays which were adapted and directed by Valpy himself. However, Valpy often quarrelled with the Corporation and succeeded in alienating the town, leaving Reading School in decline. Numbers of pupils fell steadily until in 1866 a team of inspectors found only three pupils present. The School was closed down before the end of that year.
In 1867 the School rose again; the Reading School Act was passed. This legislation laid out, in 52 clauses, how a modern grammar school should be administered and funded. The new trustees of the School met to decide on a new site, and selected Erleigh Road, where the School remains today. Alfred Waterhouse, the architect who designed Manchester Town Hall and the Natural History Museum, was commissioned, and Queen Victoria was asked to become the School's patron. Unfortunately the queen declined, but the Prince of Wales agreed to lay the foundation stone. Reading School was back in business.
For further information, and a more detailed history of Reading School, visit the Old Redingensians website.
The School Day
The school works a five day week, beginning at 8.20am and ending at 3.25pm, with some games fixtures played on Saturday afternoons.
There are eight lessons per day - six before lunch and two after lunch.
Reading School is probably the only state school in Great Britain to have its own consecrated chapel. It was built and designed by the prominent Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse in 1874, and is used daily for an act of corporate worship. The Chaplain is a member of the teaching staff.
Gifted and Talented
Reading School has a strong commitment to all students and all are treated as Gifted and Talented. The school curriculum encourages excellence in all subjects and those who wish to pursue their gifts in a wider role are encouraged to join in extra curricular events and even the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth at Warwick University. (NAGTY)
The following pages show more details of the provision and policy of Reading School towards the Gifted and Talented. This is always being updated as new initiatives become available.
There is also available on the web page, a Gifted and Talented presentation, which you can access, which gives a history of the Gifted and Talented Strand in England and details examples of the Reading School Curriculum and how it enriches all students. Mrs Margaret A McDonald delivered this presentation on request of the Japanese Institute for Educational Research in Tokyo, in January 2003.
We have a number of pupils who are members of the National Academy. We send home a letter, via boys, which gives all parents more information.There is a copy of the September 2003 letter at the end of this section.
If you wish your son to be considered for NAGTY please contact Mrs McDonald, Director of Teaching and Learning for more information.
NAGTY website: http://www.nagty.ac.uk/
Reading School offers a broad curriculum, and is unusual in that it offers three separate science subjects instead of the combined science courses offered by many other schools.
The curriculum offered includes:
"Teaching is very good overall. At its best it is excellent, with well-structured lessons incorporating a variety of challenging tasks which ensure that the students are working to capacity."
OFSTED Report, November 2001
Reading School is extremely proud of the wide range of additional activities and societies which we offers to all of our students. Many of the clubs are run by the pupils themselves, and are designed to benefit all sections of the wider school community.
Reading School is a state maintained boarding school, where parents pay for accommodation only.
Boarding offers boys who live outside the school catchment area the chance of a place at the school with extended opportunities beyond the curriculum.
We create a caring and friendly environment in which boys can develop a sense of social, moral and cultural well being. We achieve this by nurturing a sense of responsibility amongst the boys for themselves, their environment and the people who live close to them.
With numbers of approximately 70 boys we are able to concentrate on the individual while having a cross section of interests and backgrounds for them to form friendships within. By generating a positive family atmosphere where the boys feel comfortable to find their own character we send well rounded boys in to the wider world and encourage all of our former Boarders to input back into the houses.
We have two boarding houses, East Wing and South House, both of equal size. Please feel free to browse the pages and gain a feel for the houses, environment and atmosphere.
Welcome to the East Wing!!!
At East Wing we aim to ensure that every boy is confident and secure in his surroundings and relationships, so that academic work can flourish and his personality develop.
Living in a boarding house offers exciting and challenging opportunities to expand your thinking and activities. On this page you will find a small sample of life in The Wing combine this with The section on life 'Under The Wing' and you will begin to gain understanding what a fun and exciting adventure boarding in the modern context can be…but there is no better way to get a feel for a place than to visit. You may also find it useful to read some accounts of life in East Wing from some present boys.
Please feel free to call the admissions secretary at the school and make an appointment to come and visit us at East Wing.
The '05-'06 tribe at our summer waterski trip.
I hope you enjoy this snap shot as much as the boys did taking it...
A Year 10 student East Wing
I have lived in East Wing for nearly four years now, and it has helped me in life in many ways. Some of the experiences boarding has given me cannot be had any other way. The communal atmosphere and care shown by the boys to each other is unique and reflects on the hard work put into the house.
There are many activities and clubs available exclusively to boarders, which allow our free time to become a much more enjoyable period. Sports such as football, rugby and basketball are a regular occurrence and help bring the boys together whilst having fun. There are also cooking lessons and musical clubs on offer; so the overall package has a lot to give.
Boarding has also proved very character building for me and my peers. We all feel we have grown a lot since year 7, and that, largely, it is East Wing which has aided this.
One of the main things that people tend not to realise, but just take for granted, is the system by which we do our homework. In my first year I was not particularly prompt with doing my homework. But in boarding an hour and a half is set aside for this purpose. This means that younger ones are able to receive help from older boys if they need it. This process is very effective in helping you, and soon I was handing my work in on time just like the others.
A critical aspect of boarding is the teachers. They, along with the boys, are the foundation of the house. Whenever anyone is feeling down or upset, you can guarantee there’ll be at least one member of staff able to comfort them and make sure everything is alright. They take time out of their own lives to help us in and around the boarding house; whether it be by running a club or just socialising with the boys, they are always there.
Overall, I would strongly recommend boarding at Reading School; it offers great pastoral care and an extra opportunity to form special friendships with your fellow peers. The kind of friendships that will last beyond university. It is a unique experience, one which I cannot fault.
A Year 9 student East Wing
For me boarding has been a great experience so far, and I believe this will definitely continue.
In Year seven, I was scared that I wasn’t going to fit in, but this was not the case as the whole wing makes you feel at home as soon as you arrive. I have made many close friends which I wouldn’t have made outside of school or even as a day boy. These are people you can call ‘loyal’ friends.
The general atmosphere around the house is always lively, and this tends to take your mind off being away from home. The activities throughout the year are fantastic; they range from Sports, to even Cooking!
In the winter our Housemaster organizes visits to Bowling and Ice-Skating, everyone enjoys it! In the summer we have many different clubs outside in the evening, all of which are very enjoyable.
There is a set ‘prep’ time. Without this, I would find it hard to get down myself, but with all the house doing it at once, it motivates you to do it, freeing up time to do the extra curricular activities.
I would recommend boarding to anyone who wants to make the most of their time at school as it helps to develop your independence and prepares you for your adult life.