Leighton Park School
Day and boarding school
|Deputy Head||Eddie Falshaw|
|Founders||Dame Elizabeth and George Cadbury|
|Houses||5 (4 Senior, 1 Junior)|
|Colours||Blue, Gold, Brown|
|Campus||64-acre (259,000 m2) parkland campus|
|Former Pupils||Old Leightonians|
Leighton Park School is a co-educational Quaker independent school for both day and boarding pupils. It is situated in the town of Reading in Berkshire, in South East England. The school was founded in 1890, following the closure of Grove House School, also a Quaker establishment.
The school is based in a parkland estate setting just south of the town centre of Reading, adjacent to the Whiteknights Park campus of the University of Reading. The school is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. The school offers both the International Baccalaureate and traditional A Levels at Sixth Form.
In January 2013, Nigel Williams was appointed Head. Nigel has served over 18 years at the school in a variety of senior roles, including Head of House (Field), Assistant Head and Deputy Head. He took over from Alex McGrath who, prior to Leighton Park, was the former deputy head of Trent College.
The teaching of young people has always been a priority for Quakers; from the late seventeenth century onwards, many were involved in establishing schools for their own children and others in need. In this light, Leighton Park was opened in 1890 by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), as a public school for boys, with the specific aim of preparing academically able boys to enter university, to think for themselves and to develop self-reliance.
Nicknamed 'the Quaker Eton', Leighton Park has sent a high proportion of its pupils to Oxford or Cambridge. To this day it retains academic prestige, being described as a school that possesses "outstanding teaching, facilities and excellent academic results [that] give it the qualities that parents seek in a school" by ISBI schools.
Leighton Park grew from 4 boys in 1890 to 103 in the 1920s. By 1970 the school had 300 pupils, and in 1975 girls were admitted to the sixth form. In 1993 the school became fully coeducational. Today the school is home to 500 pupils drawn from over twenty different countries.
In 2006, 'Oakview', the new central-dining facility was introduced instead of traditional in-house dining. The facility was officially opened by Sir Steve Redgrave.
Traditions and routines
Leighton Park, due to its Quaker faith, has marked customs and traditions which differ from those in Anglican schools. Some of these traditions are:
- "Collect": The daily routine meeting similar to that of assembly in other schools, where the school gathers for presentations and talks. Every collect is then finished with a silence lasting several minutes to reflect on the topic addressed in the meeting. The distinct difference between "Collect" and other similar meetings in Anglican schools is the omission of hymn singing.
- "Meeting for Worship": A weekly event which replaces "Collect" on Thursday, similar to Quaker meetings across the country. The meeting is held in silence to reflect on thoughts and feelings, with a free forum for anyone to stand up and break the silence by speaking about the issue on their mind. "Meeting for Worship" currently lasts 20–25 minutes, reduced from longer lengths over the years.
- "Monthly Meeting": A meeting held once a month which gives the chance for the pupil body to air grievances on any matter (such as dress code, lunch queues etc.). It is usually clerked by the Head Boy and Head Girl, alongside a member of staff who takes the minutes. The school senior management are usually present to respond to grievances. This form of response differs from other, more traditional, forms of Quaker Monthly Meeting. In its present form, senior staff respond directly to issues as they are raised. Traditionally, issues are not just considered by the senior management, but by the meeting as a whole. Such a method of consensus problem-solving reflects the quaker value of Equality.
There are five houses at Leighton Park: four senior and one junior. Each senior house has an average of 100 pupils, and the junior house has approximately 80 pupils. The first house established was named 'Grove', after Grove School, which Leighton Park has historical links with. The junior house, 'Fryer', houses pupils aged 11–13. All houses are mixed sex, and all have facilities for day and boarding pupils.
|House||Type of House||Housemaster|
In early 2012, plans for a change to the house structure were considered and approved by Governors and the Senior Management Team. On announcement to the school and Old Leightonians it received concern and has since been suspended. Any future proposed changes will be subject to wide consultation.
The school has a floodlit astroturf sports pitch and 22 tennis courts, along with four main sports fields. The school's sporting strengths lie in athletics, cricket, rugby, hockey and netball. Many other sports are catered for including football, tennis and swimming. The school awards scholarships for talented and capable sportsmen and women.
The school hosts an annual cross-country competition: the race is over 2.5 km long. There is also a house 'Road Relay' race where 12 pupils, teams of four from each senior house, race to complete one lap of the kilometre-long road track. The results of the road relay count towards the annual House Cup, awarded at the end of each academic year. There are also other regular house sport competitions: rugby, football, athletics, hockey, tennis and swimming.
Leightonian Funto Fabunmi-Alade was English Schools Athletics sprint champion in her age group for several consecutive years. In April 2011, student Charlotte Turner qualified for the UK National County Cross-Country Championships while in Year 10.
The school recently hosted a Super Six Rugby Sevens Tournament, a spin-off of the 'Super Six' rugby XV cup competition that the school founded and takes part in with five other schools. It has won the cup on several occasions. The school also participates in the Daily Mail Cup rugby competition.
Music and drama
The current[when?] Head of Music is Rosemary Scales. At Leighton Park many instruments are taught, with opportunities being given to all students should they wish to learn. The school also has a fully equipped specialist recording studio. Leighton Park gives scholarships for dedicated and talented musicians.
Leighton Park is known for its annual House Music competition. The competition involves many students - from House 'Big Group' (where pop songs such as Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' and Shania Twain's 'Man! I feel like a woman!' have been performed), to solo artists (Old Leightonian Laura Marling competed live in 2007, but lost out in her category of "Original Song"). The house music competition's final standings award points to Houses, which go towards the annual House Cup.
The school offers Music GCSE and A-Level, as well as Music Technology.
The Drama department is headed by Geraint Thomas, and supplemented by several other teachers. Leighton Park's Main Hall theatre is the home of school productions. It is also often hired by local choral and drama companies. There is usually one main School production per academic year, alternating between a musical and a play. The production usually takes place in the Spring Term and has a high reputation: it is normally fully booked every night.
In the past, the school has put on Our Country's Good, Evita, The Crucible, West Side Story, Grease and Much Ado About Nothing, as well as several other well known dramatic pieces. In the 2012-13 academic year the production was Miss Saigon, which featured a full-size helicopter on stage.
Younger students at Leighton Park have the opportunity to perform in the "Fryer Festival" in the summer.
The school offers GCSE Drama as well as A-level Theatre Studies.
Leighton Park has featured in the press most recently in light of the BBC Politics Show, which was hosted at Leighton Park in December 2010.
In April 2005, Quaker-based Sunday Worship was broadcast live from Leighton Park on BBC Radio 4. Heard by an estimated 1.75 million listeners, the sequence of readings, music, ministry and silence "reflected the essence of Quaker values to the wider world."
Leighton Park also featured in the press in 2005 for the introduction of a music workshop by ex-child soldier turned musician, Ben Okafor.
The school is mentioned in the play and film, The History Boys, by Alan Bennett. The headmaster mentions schools he would like to emulate regarding high pupil entry to Oxford; among them is Leighton Park — 'or is that an open prison?', he adds.
Notable old pupils include:
- Sir John Adye, former director of the GCHQ
- Tony Baldry, MP
- Quentin Bell, Bloomsbury Member, Artist and writer
- Eliza Bennett, actress
Steven Tsui, Consultant Surgeon, Clinical Director of Transplant Services at Papworth Hospital
- Michael Binyon, journalist
Owen Bowcott, Journalist
- Sir John Birch, former ambassador
- Jim Broadbent, Oscar-winning actor
- Lord Caradon, former ambassador
- Nathan Crowley, Oscar nominated Art Director in Film Industry
Henry Priestman, singer/songwriter (The Christians)
Richard G Wilkinson, social epidemiologist, author and advocate.
- Leonard Doncaster, Geneticist
Helen Cadbury, Chair of Barrow Cadbury Trust, poet, author, educator
- Jason Durr, Actor
Po Shun Leung, artist
Lance Clark (retail; founder of Soul of Africa)
Owen Edwards, pioneer of Welsh TV broadcasting
- Peter Litten, Film Director
- Laura Marling, singer and Award-winning songwriter
- Nathaniel Parker, Actor
- Sir Roland Penrose, artist, historian and poet
Crispin Aubrey, campaigner
- Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, composer and jazz pianist
- John Ryman, former Labour Party MP
- Julian Stallabrass, Art Historian, Photographer and Lecturer
- Ian Stillman, missionary
- Stuart Zender, musician
- "School House and Attached Laboratories at Leighton Park School, Reading". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
- "Leighton Park School, Reading – The Good School Guide". Goodschoolsguide.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-07-09.
- "Leighton Park School on www.isbi.com". Isbi.com. Retrieved 2010-07-09.
- "Leighton Park School – BriefHistory". Leightonpark.com. Retrieved 2010-07-09.
- "Leighton Park School – Home". Leightonpark.com. Retrieved 2010-07-09.
- The OL reaction group can be found on Facebook at the link supplied - https://www.facebook.com/groups/315353721866705/ - accessed 18/05/12
- "Leighton Park Facilities". Leighton Park. 2011-05-01. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
- "Charlotte Turner placed 1st for Berkshire". Leighton Park. 2011-04-05. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
- "BBC Politics Show at Leighton Park School". Berkshire Life. 2010-12-06. Retrieved 2011-04-29.
- "Worship". Leighton Park. 2011-05-01. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
- "UK | England | Berkshire | Pupils meet former child soldier". BBC News. 2005-06-21. Retrieved 2010-07-09.
- The Leightonian [school magazine] (pub. 1895).
- The Park [school magazine] (pub. termly).
- Old Leightonians Club. A list of names and addresses of the old boys of Leighton Park School (pub. 1945, 1957, 1973, 1990).
- Brown, S. W. Leighton Park: A history of the school (pub. 1952).
- Leighton Park School, Leighton Park: The first 100 years (pub. 1990).
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