One of the leading state schools in the UK, there’s fierce competition for places at this all-boys grammar school in Reading where a boarding education costs just over £13,000 a year.
Reading School is ranked the top state school in the South East. This is an academic powerhouse that attracts some of the county’s brightest boys. Unashamedly selective, Reading is focused on academic excellence, continuous improvement, and a respect for tradition and history. It's a school that is hugely proud of its 900-year-old history and its strong track record in GCSE and A Level results, and it’s very ambitious.
“Our vision for Reading School is that we should become a flourishing world-leading institution developing academic excellence and building good men,” says Headteacher A.M. Robson.
Reading is principally a day school, but it does have just under 100 boarding places. As a state boarding school, an education at the school is free; parents pay only for the cost of boarding, which is around £13,000 a year – nearly two thirds less than the cost of a boarding education at a UK independent school. The school has up to 80 weekly boarders aged 11-18 in its two boarding houses.
While competition for boarding (and day) places can be fierce at state schools like Reading, if you have a UK passport you qualify for admission.
Note: If you are eligible to hold a full UK passport, or have the right of residence in the UK you can also apply. Families with British National (Overseas) status can apply for the new Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa. If the visa application is successful, families who move to the UK can apply for their child to attend a UK state boarding school.
The school follows a broad, traditional curriculum it calls “The Reading Way” which is designed to challenge and grow all students. In line with all UK state schools, Reading follows the National Curriculum for England, and students take GCSE and A Level exams. While the school is very focused on academic success, it does value “developing young men” and it has designed its own holistic curriculum that goes beyond the national curriculum in several ways.
Languages are very strong; every student studies four languages from a choice of French, German, Spanish, Mandarin and Latin. Year 9 students are encouraged to take the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) combination of GCSE subjects – English, Mathematics, at least two Sciences, a Modern Foreign Language and either Geography or History. In Sixth Form, students study a range of traditionally academic A Levels, as well as the Extended Project Qualification. There are other enrichment courses that help to prepare students for university.
There’s a focus on building both grades and character at the school. The annual Belonging Weeks are held either side of the May half term for all students in Years 7-10; this involves a week of structured examinations and a week of enrichment activities ranging from residential trips and leadership challenges to work experience. In the Sixth Form, students are encouraged to academic mentor their peers, and many give up their time to teach local primary school students as part of a Future Stories initiative.
Class sizes vary between 20 and 30; this is normal for a state school but larger than you’d expect at an independent boarding school where fees will be considerably higher.
The school has a broad extra-curricular programme which offers over 50 activities and clubs – stretching students academically, in sport, creatively and supporting their wellbeing. The Combined Cadet Force is very popular even though it is not compulsory or timetabled.
The school is consistently in the top 10% of state schools for GCSE and A Level results, and every year over 20 students are consistently offered places at Oxford, Cambridge or international universities. Over 90% go on to top universities, as well as many students securing places for medical-related degrees.
In 2021, 54% of grades at GCSE were grade 9, 83% were 9-8, and 95% were 9-7. At A Level, 45% of grades were A*, 84% of grades were A*-A and 96% were A*-B.
For 2023 entry, there will be 150 places in total comprising of 12 boarders (maximum) and 138 day-boys (minimum). The main intake is Year 7 but places are available in Year 9 and again in the Sixth Form.
Reading is a selective/grammar boarding school so all boys must first sit the Entrance Test set by the school, which consists of three elements: English, Maths and Creative Writing. This will typically take place in September and/or January in the academic year preceding entry, and the results for this are published in mid-October.
Day places are awarded according to the Local Authority criteria of looked-after children, siblings and distance from school. Boarding places are awarded according to 'boarding need' and there is no catchment area for boarding candidates. However, both day and boarding students must achieve an eligible score in the entrance test before they can list Reading School as one of their preferences on the Common Application Form (CAF).
Admissions for day and boarding school places are made through the Common Application Form (CAF) to the local authority, and students must apply in Year 6 for a Year 7 place. The deadline to submit the application is October 31 in the year preceding entry. There is a high demand for day places, and you’ll need to be living less than two miles of the school to stand a chance of getting a place.
Annual boarding fees are £13,293, which means an average termly cost of £4,500. These fees will typically cover every aspect of boarding life including meals and break-time/ evening snacks, evening activities and weekend excursions.
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