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Reading School is a grammar school in the town of Readingmarker, Berkshire, Englandmarker. It is a single-sex boys' school, which selects incoming students on the basis of examined ability, usually at age 11, with a few entrants at age 13 and 16. It is state-funded, so there are no fees for day pupils, and boarders only pay for food and lodgings, not schooling. The current headmaster, since Autumn 2006, is John Weeds, replacing Patricia Daniels, who was acting headteacher for one year, and also the first female headteacher in the 882-year history of the school.

Reading is a foundation school, and an OFSTED report 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. 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). It has recently become a DFES specialist school for the Humanities, specialising in English , 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. Reading School has had a partnership with Akhter Computers in Harlowmarker, 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. In 2007, the school was identified by the Sutton Trustas one of only 20 state schools among the 100 schools in the UK responsible for a third of admissions to Oxfordmarker and Cambridgemarker 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".


A view of Reading School from the drive
Reading School was founded as part of Reading Abbeymarker. The date of the Abbey's charter, June 29 1125, is taken as the foundation date, making it the 10th oldest school in Englandmarker, although there are hints that there may have been a school running in Reading before this.

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. 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 Londonmarker 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 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, Kendrickmarker) 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.

Reading School
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 Sloughmarker, or to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxfordmarker 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. 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

A photo of the School, covered in snow, taken on 8 February 2007.
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.

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, 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 re-named 'Middleton room' (ICT suite) and Religious Studies department.

The Science block, situated on the south-east of the site, contains a workshop for Technology classes, three Physics labs, three Biology labs, three Chemistry labs and a lecture theatre.

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 Technology labs (Graphics and Electronics), three Mathematics rooms, the main Mathematics office and an ICT suite.

The John Kendrick building, opened in 2002, is to the west of the site, housing the Library (formerly the Learning Resources Centre), 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 at Reading School
The chapel is where the school's Christmas 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, an ICT suite, a hall (used for orchestra and choir practices) and four smaller individual teaching rooms (used for individual music lessons). The school is developing an arts area in the unused part of the building. The building is situated at the far end of the drive, on the left of the main entrance.

An outdoor eating area has recently been developed on the school site, which is situated close to the tuck shop.

Subjects taught

Subject Taught at KS3 Taught at GCSE Taught at A level
Ancient Greek No Yes No
Art Compulsory Yes Yes
Biology Compulsory Compulsory Yes
Business Studies No Yes No
Chemistry Compulsory Compulsory Yes
Drama Compulsory Yes Yes
Economics No Yes Yes
English Compulsory Compulsory Yes
French Compulsory Yes Yes
Geography Compulsory Yes Yes
German Compulsory from Year 8 Yes Yes
History Compulsory Yes Yes
ICT Compulsory Yes (DiDA) No
Latin Compulsory Yes Yes
Mandarin Chinese No Yes No
Mathematics* Compulsory Compulsory Yes
Music Compulsory Yes Yes
Physical Education Compulsory Compulsory Compulsory**
Physics Compulsory Compulsory Yes
Religious Education*** Compulsory Compulsory Offered in special cases
Spanish No Yes No
Technology Compulsory Yes Yes
*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 AS-Level. Those that do not do this must still take part in games weekly, though this is not examined or graded in any way. ***Unless of a non-Christian background.

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, Oxfordmarker 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 Oxfordmarker 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 Aachenmarker 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 Lucknowmarker, 1857; died at Agramarker
Joseph Wells 1855 1929 Warden of Wadham College, Oxfordmarker 1913–1927, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxfordmarker 1923–1926
William Norman Rae 1886 1964 Professor of Chemistry, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Herbert Leader Hawkins 1887 1968 Fellow of the Royal Society (elected 1937), President of the Palaeontological Society, Professor of Palaeontology, University of Reading, world authority on sea urchins
Arthur Negus 1903 1985 broadcaster and antiques expert
Norman Gash 1912 2009 Eminent historian, former Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrewsmarker
John Boulting 1913 1985 Film director and producer
Horace Edgar "Tom" Dollery 1914 1987 Warwickshire and England Cricketer
John Minton 1917 1957 Artist, lecturer and teacher
George William Series 1920 1995 Physicist, Professor of Physics, University of Reading, Fellow of the Royal Society (elected 1971)
Sir Clifford Charles Butler 1922 1999 Physicist, co-discoverer of hyperons and K-mesons

Living Old Redingensians (alphabetical order)

Name Year of birth Notable achievements
Paul Badham 1942 Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Lampetermarker, Director of the Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre
Ross Brawn 1954 Former Technical Director of Benetton and Ferrarimarker Formula 1 teams, former Team Principle of Honda F1, currently owner of Brawn GPmarker
Tom Burrows 1985 Hampshire County Cricket Club 1st Team
Mark Field 1964 MPShadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury
Cris Freddi 1955 Author
David Gold 1979 England International Bridge Player (World Championship Silver Medalist 2008)
Damian Green 1956 MPShadow Minister for Immigration
Oliver Heald 1954 MPShadow Constitutional Affairs Secretary
Haydn Middleton 1955 Author
Christopher Renshaw 1951 Theatre Director
Lord Roper of Thorney Island 1935 Liberal Democrat chief whip in the House of Lordsmarker
Andrew Smith 1952 MP – Former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and former Cabinet Minister
Sandeep Baliga 1966 Economist – Professor at Kellogg Graduate School of Management and author of Cheap Talk


  • 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.


  1. Andrew Linnell. The Headmaster's Letter. The Old Redingensian, May 2005, p2 (PDF).
  2. Case Study. Video Broadcast over the Network at Reading School (PDF)
  3. Reading School – "New Landing Site for Air Ambulance". The South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust
  4. Main school building, Images of England reference no. 38922
  5. Lecture Theatre at Reading School, Images of England reference no. 38923
  6. South House, Images of England reference no. 38924
  7. Building to the east of South House, Images of England reference no. 38925

See also

External links

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