Rugby School Review

Now offering the choice of A Levels or the IB, Rugby School is a co-ed secondary school with a reputation for innovation, an education that extends far beyond exam results… and, of course, rugby!
At a glance
School type
Private
School phase
Secondary
Inspection rating
Excellent
Availability 2020/21
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Availability 2021/22
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Annual fee average
GBP 23,000
Annual fees
GBP 23,088 - 23,088
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
1567
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mr Gareth Parker-Jones
Owner
Rugby School Group
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom
Main student nationality
United Kingdom
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Rugby School
School type
Private
School phase
Secondary
Inspection rating
Excellent
Availability 2020/21
close
Availability 2021/22
close
Annual fee average
GBP 23,000
Annual fees
GBP 23,088 - 23,088
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
1567
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mr Gareth Parker-Jones
Owner
Rugby School Group
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom
Main student nationality
United Kingdom
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Now offering the choice of A Levels or the IB, Rugby School is a co-ed secondary school with a reputation for innovation, an education that extends far beyond exam results… and, of course, rugby!

Just the mention of Rugby School in the heart of England can bring several notable achievements to mind. As well as having a renowned sporting history – it is the birthplace of the rugby game – Rugby School has a reputation for its pioneering and innovative approach to secondary education, as well as its independent thinking. This is the school that was the first to teach science as part of the curriculum; it launched the Extended Project, a free-standing dissertation-style qualification taken alongside A-levels; and it recently decided to withdraw from taking part in any national exam league tables.

With such a drive for innovative thinking, it’s hardly surprising that Rugby School is such an academically strong school, as well as a top performer in sport and the arts. A high percentage of students at this co-ed day and boarding secondary school (Years 9 - 13) achieve top grades at GCSE and A Level; in 2019, almost one in four grades were A* in A Level and more than a third of entries scored a 9 at GCSE.

In the true spirit of its tradition of innovation in the curriculum, Rugby will offer the IB Diploma Programme at sixth form from 2021; the school joins a small number of private schools in the UK to offer students the choice of A Levels and IB at Sixth Form.

As a selective school, Rugby School has much more of an academic focus than non-selective schools. In its own words, “High expectations will be set and a love of learning developed.” However, it also says that, “the end result of a Rugby School education is so much more than exam results”, and there is plenty of talk about success in sports, creative arts and music. This is a school whose mantra is ‘The Whole Person is the Whole Point’, so you can expect your child to be aiming to reach the best of their potential is all subjects, while also learning about character development, moral values, and social manners

Whether students are boarders or not, the school focuses strongly on pastoral care. There’s family-style dining at all meal times, a strong house system, and the support of House Parents and House Tutors. There are two houses for day students, allowing them to stay on campus until 6.30pm and have the same sense of belonging as boarders do. And the school has a tutor support program, where individual tutors support students to reach their goals, discuss their career ambitions, and offer tailored university preparation.

While the Rugby has the heritage of being one of the oldest independent schools in the UK, it definitely has one foot in the 21st century. It’s also an exciting time for the school has it branches out globally, which opens up various opportunities for students in the UK. Following the success of its Rugby Thailand campus and with Rugby Japan due to open in 2022, there are plans to create an enrichment campus in Hokkaido which will run skiing and other activities for all Year 9 students in the global Rugby family.

Rugby School was rated Excellent in its most recently available ISI Educational Quality report (2014).

The curriculum

One of the strengths of an independent school is that it can draw upon the best of the National Curriculum for England and supplement it with additional courses and bespoke learning programmes. And Rugby does just that.

Rugby School offers a very solid, intellectually challenging and creative start to your child’s secondary education. In addition to timetabled lessons, all students in F Block (Year 9) study ‘academic enrichment’ courses. This might be working on a mission to Mars before heading off for the day to the National Space Centre with the physics and chemistry departments; investigating the history of coding and encryption with the history, mathematics and computing departments before attempting to resolve the July 1914 crisis and then breaking out from an escape room; or exploring disease and its spread with the biology and geography departments. It’s a fine example of how Rugby embraces the cross-curricular learning that makes the IB so strong; it also encourages independent learning and collaborative work by asking all students to complete individual and group projects for presentation at the end of this academic year.

After such a strong start, students continue to study for their GCSEs. All students study a core of subjects that includes English (Language and Literature), mathematics, and all three Sciences (Biology, Chemistry And Physics), as well as a Modern Foreign Language and a choice from options including Art, Classical Civilisation, Computing, Design & Technology, Drama, French, German, Geography, Greek, History, Italian, Latin, Music, Philosophy & Theology, PE or Spanish.

Then, for A-Levels, students can choose from around 30 subjects; you’ll find that the arts (Fine Art, Design and Technology, Textiles, Photography and Graphic Design) are just as popular and strong as more academic options such as Mathematics and Further Mathematics. And, of course, students can also take the Extended Project qualification, which was developed here at Rugby.

For students looking for more breadth in their studies, they can now choose to study the IB Diploma Programme instead of A Levels; as the IB will only launch in 2021, we are yet to know how large the cohort will be. Whatever the numbers, both courses will be given equal time and resource, and students will be encouraged to mix within the school’s new dedicated Sixth Form facility. As well as giving college students their own study space, it features a scaled-down House of Commons, complete with green leather seats and a university campus-style common room.

As you'd expect, sport is very strong and competitive here – and not just rugby. Sports including, cricket, tennis and hockey are just as strong and popular at the school, and the offerings of sport are as varied as fives, fencing, gymnastics, tai chi, clay pigeon shooting and sailing. With the saying ‘no-one on the bench’, there’s a genuine feeling that sport is for all here. Rugby School gives all kinds of physical activity, “a major role in school life for every child”, and facilities include 12 rugby pitches, polo fields, crickets squares and tennis courts. As well as having some truly enviable sporting facilities, the school has “top quality sports coaches”.

The school also encourages creative talent with its promise of music lessons, an annual programme of concerts, bands and ensembles, choirs, and dance and drama workshops; a highlight in the Rugby school calendar is a ambitious but very well-executed annual arts festival. And with facilities including a purpose-built recording studio, four fine pipe organs, and not one but several grand pianos, it’s not surprising that a growing number of students are choosing to study at least one subject in the arts faculty to GCSE or A Level.

Academic results

In 2019, 63% of A Level students at Rugby School UK were graded A* to A and there was 100% pass rate. In its GCSE results, 77% of students received an A* to A, and there was 98% pass rate. Results for 2020, which were based on centre assessed grades due to the cancellation of all exams, have not been published. 

Rugby is one of many leading public schools in the UK to withdraw from the league tables system, so do not expect to find them listed in any results tables. Headmaster Peter Green explains the decision saying:

“League tables provide no indication of the standard of music, drama and sport that is taught, or any of the intellectual, artistic and community-based activities that contribute to the development of the whole person to which Rugby is committed. League tables say nothing about the ethos of a school; its social mix; its location or place in the community; the commitment, generosity and aspirations of its staff; its range of co- curricular offerings.”

Beyond the classroom

Rugby lives by the ethos whole person, the whole point, and goes to great lengths to ensure that students find their passions and grow in sporting prowess, worldly values, community spirit, and artistic flair. This is supported by the school’s extra-curricular activities, which are part of the timetable every day.

During their time at Rugby School, the school promises that every student will participate in a theatrical production either on or behind the stage, serve in the CCF for at least one year, complete their Bronze DofE, sing on stage in front of an audience, and be a spectator at a minimum of one sporting event each year. So, whether your child seeks the limelight or needs to nurture a quiet confidence, you should expect them to be given every opportunity to explore a new path, follow a passion or challenge themselves.

Campus and facilities

Just 50 minutes by train from London Euston, Rugby School is located in the heart of Warwickshire and surrounded by countryside and market towns.

Throughout the school there are inspiring spaces to learn like peaceful libraries, historical buildings such as the Edwardian concert hall seating 800, and outdoor spaces including more than 50 courts and pitches for sports. Much of the school is situated in period buildings fully equipped with modern, state of the art facilities and technology.

Admission and fees

Rugby offers various boarding options – day boarding for up to three nights per week; weekly boarding from Monday to Friday; and full boarding for the entire term. Boarding facilities are in single sex, Victorian houses, each a 10-minute walk from the school campus in Rugby’s market town centre.

Annual fees are £36,678 for boarders and £23,088 for day students.

Applications for Year 9 are welcomed from Year 7 students, who are expected to pass the Common Entrance with an average of at least 55%. Many students join Rugby from its sister school, Bilton Grange Preparatory School; however, the school's rigorous admissions process remains the same for all prep school pupils applying to join Rugby School.

Best for

• Choice of IB or A Levels
• Well-rounded education with strong focus on the whole child
• Innovative approach in education
• Sport, particularly rugby

Not for

• On-campus boarding facilities
• Anyone looking for a city-based, urban education

 

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